The creative agency space is competitive. Not to mention it’s facing added pressures from cheaper overseas outsourcing options. How can you ensure you’re continuing to deliver great value to your clients without it actually affecting your bottom line?
Here are 6 value-adds you can implement in your agency to create a memorable client experience that will keep your customers loyal:
Let your clients in on best practice secrets that you have gleaned from other clients or through your own experiences. If you’ve recently attended a course or heard an interesting speaker then share your experiences and the insight you gained from the training.
Dan Ditzler, creative director at Newton Associates has this advice: “Everyone in the agency should always put themselves in the shoes of agency clients 24/7. When you read or view anything of potential interest to them from a branding, new business development or new market niche standpoint, capture it and share it with the client. It might trigger nothing at the moment, but at least it is triggering conversation and additional thoughts and could lead down another pathway.”
Provide on-going support and educational sessions for clients where relevant. The cost of providing a seminar or webinar is minimal to you compared to the value to your client and the potential it has to bring new clients through the door. “Spec work only costs money if it isn’t strong enough to move the client. If it does its job, then you are delivering added value, over and above, whatever you’ve been doing”. says Ditzler. You’ll also establish your name as a knowledgeable voice in the industry and leave no doubt that your services are worth paying for.
2. Be a connector
It’s likely you interact with a broad range of businesses from varying industries. When you spot potential synergies between clients, provide a referral - pass on contact details or send an introductory email to connect the two businesses.
Keep a database of related suppliers that you can call on if your clients require a particular service. For example, you might be a web design firm that doesn’t offer copywriting services but you know a trusted freelancer that you can recommend. Think about asking these contacts to set up a deal or special rate for clients that you can send their way.
“Even the fullest of full-service agencies don’t do everything in-house. When a new strategic partner associate or firm is engaged for one client, it can make sense to introduce that partner’s capabilities to other clients in the interest of offering solutions presently not being considered”, says Ditzler.
Dave Davis, CEO of digital marketing agency RedFly, implemented a ‘Beyond Value’ initiative in his business to offer extra value that didn’t impact on his company’s bottom line. This approach that has seen them decrease their client churn by 400%, losing only one client since the program’s implementation five years ago.
As part of this, he encourages his team to take a similar approach to Ditzler, “Each account manger should assist, within reason, with help in areas where they don't hold specific expertise. This means using our own professional networks to help clients resolve pressing issues that are not in our work scope.”
Show your support for your clients’ business by helping to spread the word through your own online marketing. Many business owners I know have a ‘businesses I recommend’ section, or feature a ‘website of the month’ in their company newsletter. Link to their social media pages, blogs, website, campaigns or competitions to help them get momentum going.
3. Be a trusted resource
Put together some helpful collateral such as implementation guides, useful checklists or offer your clients access to a client-only library of blogs, white papers, presentations or support videos.
For example, you could offer:
- SEO checklist
- a social media guide
- a DIY website audit
Julia Angelen Joy from PR agency, Z Group PR, calls on the knowledge she has gained through her experience in varying business roles to deliver added value to her clients, “One way for me to put the "trusted resource" idea in action is that I create and provide for my clients a FYI communications program where I basically look at their business and all the issues that they are facing (even if they are not part of my PR consultation) and find resources, training and materials to help address those issues.”
4. Upskill your team
Your biggest asset is your people, and this is where you have an opportunity to offer the most value. Ensure your staff have access to training, resources and professional development opportunities so they can continue to deliver the most up-to-date advice.
A tip that Ditzler recommends: “Create Google alerts or RSS feeds that deliver current news and events on a range of industry topics, client and competitor names, etc. By staying informed, and getting timely content, you’ll be better informed and better able to help the client strategically and preemptively on a range of issues from PR problems to new business opportunities to changes at competitors.”
5. Keep it personal
Think about when you go and see your hairdresser. If they’re anything like mine, they remember all the details of what was going on in your life last time you had an appointment two months prior.
Whether she’s keeping a dossier on my life or just has a really impressive memory, the personal touch that this adds each time I see her doesn’t go unnoticed. She is ensuring that each of her customers feels valued, it strengthens their connection with her and maintains a loyal customer base. It should be the same for any professional services company. Keep track of correspondence, milestones and news. It will delight your clients when you remember what’s important to them.
As part of the value-add strategy at Redfly, Davis stresses the importance of keeping things personal. “In the digital age, something as simple as acting human can be enough to differentiate you from your competitors who are in a race to systematize and dehumanize their businesses. Agency work is about people more than ever. Communication and showing you care, in person, goes much further than most people think.”
“At Redfly, every account manager writes a handwritten note after each major milestone or meeting with the client. We made the decision to double the contact rate with each client - even if it’s just for an informal chat. I take clients out for an informal lunch once per month and we talk about the client’s industry challenges”.
6. Have strong company values
Take a leaf out of HEROfarm’s book. HEROfarm is a marketing and PR agency that pushes its social mission in all that it does, a philosophy that has become a huge part of its branding.
They regularly offer pro-bono assistance to worthy not-for-profits and give back by assisting on various marketing boards and organisation communication committees. Director Shaun Walker says “Connecting your work with a worthwhile endeavor makes it meaningful not only to those who work on it, but it also becomes more appealing to those who view or experience it”.
“As an old saying goes ‘In seeking happiness for others, you find it for yourself’. We truly believe that, which is why our experience over the years has geared us toward making it our mission to give back - and potential clients see that. They know we are about more than just the bottom line and trust us more with their hard earned money”, he adds.
What other ways have do you offer added value to your clients? Share your ideas below! And if you want some helpful advice for charging for your true value, sign up for our upcoming webinar by clicking the link below.