Agencies spin their wheels trying to find great clients and often miss some critical opportunities. We certainly have! Having the discipline to not pursue everything and ensuring you’re the right fit for the client goes a long way. Here’s our not-so-secret, 10-step sauce for evaluating client prospects, with a dash of client retention thrown in for good measure.
For starters, make sure your agency aligns with the company or organization you are pitching. Is your mission similar to theirs? Can you and your team get behind what they do? In our case, prospective clients must make a truly positive impact on their community to be considered. For example, our client Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation seeks to eradicate childhood tooth decay in Colorado.
Most agencies are businesses, and need to make a fair profit from their work. Make sure that your agency can service the account appropriately within the stated budget. It’s best to determine this before anyone signs the dotted line.
3. Creative Opportunity
We’re always focused on improving our product. If we are reasonably sure this new client wants something new, different, out-of-the-box or just plain memorable, then we see this prospect as a true opportunity to flex our creative muscle.
4. Growth Opportunity
An opportunity to grow comes in many flavors. There’s revenue growth of course, but we also look at growth of a new service offering. If we can grow into a new industry, sector or geography, while giving the client a fresh perspective then the partnership is mutually beneficial.
5. Long-term prospect
The first year with many new clients results in a fair amount of agency time and money being invested. While this is “normal,” it only makes business sense if there is a year two or three to hit your stride. Short-term projects often end up costing everyone more than they are worth and prevents us from helping a client plan their communication goals in the long-term.
6. Client Advocacy
Your agency needs to be prepared and able to understand and address the client’s problems and challenges. Our job is to fight about the work inside the agency, then fight for it outside the agency. Always operate with a win-win mentality because their success is truly your success.
7. Partner vs vendor
We want to make sure that the new client prospect sees the agency as a true business partner and not just another vendor. Take a hard look at your new prospect and decide if they are asking for strategy and planning, or mostly execution.
Do your homework and don’t assume that the client’s product is legit just because they want to put advertising dollars behind it. Advertising will never be able to fix a broken product.
You must ask yourselves, how winnable is this deal? Is there an incumbent whom the client adores? Is everyone in the world pitching this? What are your chances realistically?
Lastly, the early stages of the client relationship provide a perfect opportunity to bond with the client. Establish ground rules and decision makers, how you’ll communicate, receive feedback, and draw together a shared a vision of success.
Before Amélie makes a proposal, we go through this list and give each category a score. The resulting number lets us know if everything matches up and the client prospect is right for our agency. By doing so, we end up with the best clients ever (though we may be biased)! Take a look at some of the work we’ve accomplished on behalf of our clientele HERE.
About the author: Robin Ashmore is the co-founder of Amélie Company, and currently manages the agency’s strategic planning discipline, helping clients target key audiences. When she is not in the office, she enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her children. You can connect with her on LINKEDIN.