Keep Small Things Small and Big Things Big
The cornerstone of success for every ad agency is the ability to establish, build and maintain mutually beneficial long-term relationships with clients. We all know the pursuit of new business is a constant challenge for every agency. So when you win an account it's extremely important to take good care of that relationship. The life blood of the working relationship is financial. Hence, my philosophy of keeping small things small and big things big. The client has selected your agency to help grow their business and increase profits, and expects the agency to stick to the annual budget. The agency should do everything they can to use that budget as a guiding light throughout the fiscal year. Showing genuine concern for the budget and marketing plan is an endearing quality that clients really appreciate. With that said, the agency’s challenge is to stick to the budget and make enough money to cover payroll, overhead, benefits, technology and make a profit. Easy, right?
In an agency of record (AOR) relationship, both the client and the agency know that a wide variety of projects -- small, medium and large -- need to be produced out of the budget. The client wants an agency partner to help manage how the budget is spent. And it's the agency’s job to show they're responsible stewards of the budget. An experienced client has a general idea of what things should cost, so when the agency gets a request from the client for a small project, I've found that it's wise to show you're a team player and are considering the big picture. The idea of keeping small projects with a small price tag helps eliminate the risk of the client getting upset about the price of something they perceive as small.
An example of my philosophy at work, of keeping small things small, is when you're working with a client's request for an order or reorder of business cards. If you were to account for all the time it takes your staff to handle the client's request through delivery of the cards and working with a margin on the print order, a simple order of business cards can end up costing a few hundred dollars, taking into account your agency's hourly rates and vendor margins are market competitive. Clients have a tendency to “freak out” when they see the cost of the business cards. I’ve been witness to clients saying, “Wow that’s expensive. My business cards cost a dollar a piece, that’s outrageous.” That’s when they begin to look for alternative resources to satisfy their needs for a more cost efficient solution. And that's not good for the relationship. “Alternative resources” muddy the water.
When the big projects come along, that's when you work with bigger budgets and you have the opportunity to make good money. Your client expects to pay you a fair price when they utilize your team's true talents, skill sets and ask to source your professional expertise. They want your help on the important highly conceptual branding work, websites, social campaigns, TV/video production, media strategy & planning, and large-scale logistical production projects. Usually the bigger the project, the bigger the budget is and the greater opportunity to make good money from it. The reason you handle the business card order for your client is to keep the water clear so the client only sees you as the go-to resource for all their advertising, marketing, design and production needs. You really don’t want to muddy the water by letting other vendors come around, giving your client options. In a good relationship, you want to be the only option they think of for everything they need. So remember, keep small things small and big things big, and with that you should be well on your way to winning big in this wonderful industry of ours. And as a final note, there is no better form of advertising for an agency than a satisfied client referring your firm to another client.