4 MINUTE READ | June 23, 2017
The Fifth Date: Successfully Onboarding a Client
Congratulations, you’ve just signed on a new client! But wait, the fun has just begun. As any agency knows, winning new business is only half the battle. A successful onboarding is the key to a long and prosperous relationship between client and agency. Like our very own Nick Drabicky, Head of Agency Strategy says, “Onboarding is like a fifth date. You are both interested in being exclusive but still have some work to do.” Onboarding goes beyond the fancy dinners and first impressions because all relationships whether personal or professional, are built on a foundation of communication, organization and execution. If any part is missing, trust will be lost and the relationship will fail.
Like any relationship, communication is the most important thing. Many times, promises and initiatives are made during the pitch stage that are not then communicated to the account team. It is important to funnel all information from the pitch stage to the account team so that a proper launch plan is created and synchronicity remains. Agencies must always remember that the client is taking a business risk by changing their digital partners, so it is up to the agency to provide a cohesive and unified front to build trust. Don’t leave anything up for assumption and continuously ask questions to understand the “why” behind what the client is asking for to make sure you are on the same page. Keeping that strong path of communication intact will speak volumes to how much the agency cares about the client’s success.
In a world filled with tight deadlines and last-minute requests, staying organized is the generator that keeps everything moving as issues come up. It’s no secret that problems will arise throughout the relationship with the client, but having an action plan ahead of time will gain trust with the client as well as save time. For example, having a news blacklist readily available provides the agency with a quick response to any major tragedy that may occur and give the client greater peace of mind. It’s moments like this that show the client the agency’s attention to detail and their investment in the client’s success.
In the end, a successful onboarding comes down to performance. The client has chosen a new agency to entrust their future with, and it’s up to the agency to deliver. Understand the client’s KPI’s from the start to ensure that the proper strategies are being implemented and the right optimizations are being made. Additionally, the success of digital campaigns is largely dependent on a successful build. Building campaigns can be a mundane task, but without proper creation and implementation, performance will suffer. Bringing everything together, reporting is very important to all clients, especially new ones. It’s important to understand the client’s communication style – are they more of a big picture person or do they prefer a granular look at the details – and build reports to fit their needs. All the client wants is for the agency to never lose sight of goals, and to always be transparent with results.
Beyond these foundational items, there are a couple practices at PMG that help make the onboarding process smoother.
Our day to day leads have a seat at the table during the pitching process. Though it isn’t feasible to have the full team defined during the pitch process, we want those key players involved during the first dates to contribute to the communication and trust foundation.
We have additional onboarding support members to help supplement the team with the heavy lifting. Onboarding can be the most taxing time of a client/agency relationship. These additional resources provide the extra hands to condense timelines where possible and ensure that best practices are upheld across the board.
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The initial months of any relationship are the most important, and this stands true for the client-agency relationship. While winning the business is important, maintaining it is even more valuable. Successfully onboarding a client is never an easy task, but with proper communication, organization and execution, an agency can build a strong and healthy relationship with no end in sight.
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