With many businesses shutting down and many others slashing budgets, these are certainly tricky times for marketing and PR agencies.
In order to survive, you need to have a strong retention strategy in place that’s focused on adding value to existing clients and building long-lasting relationships.
What’s more, let’s not forget that finding new clients is a time-consuming process.
From doing research and networking to reaching out to prospects and pitching—a lot of work goes into it. In fact, finding a new client costs 4x the cost of retaining an existing one.
Long story short: don’t get so caught up in getting more agency clients that you overlook the importance of nurturing your existing relationships. Let’s take a look at how you can retain agency clients for the long term.
1. Work with the right clients
Client retention starts with investing in the rightclients. While you might be tempted to say ‘yes’ to every client that comes your way, that mostly never goes down well and ends up eating into your valuable time because you need to start from scratch with every new client.
Define your ideal client profile so you know which prospects are worth targeting and spending time on. This will also help you personalize content creation and PR outreach, helping you attract and appeal to the clients that are right for your agency.
Your client profile should include the following:
- Company revenue
- Number of employees
- Marketing budget
You can obtain this information by speaking to your sales team and surveying your existing clients.
2. Understand their goals and objectives
It’s not enough to just do what the client says. Act as a partner and take a genuine interest in the client’s business in order to offer valuable insights and actionable advice, according to Forbes.
The only way to do that is by getting a comprehensive understanding of their business goals and objectives.
Start with doing research on the client’s industry and the ecosystem the company is part of. Ask questions such as what is the current state of the industry, where is it headed, what are the industry trends, who are their top competitors, etc.
Subscribe to industry blogs and thought leadership content to keep yourself (and the team) updated on the latest industry happenings.
It’s also important to study the client’s business model, their product or service offering, value proposition, business KPIs, goals and target audience.
Gathering this vital information will help you identify underlying problems and offer relevant solutions to meet their business needs.
3. Maintain open communication
Like every other relationship, communication is key to a successful agency-client relationship too. From onboarding and setting clear expectations to keeping each other informed and offering constructive feedback—there is no such thing as over-communication here.
It helps to establish a single point of contact and create a project communication plan that outlines the frequency of communication, goals and responsibilities of both parties. For example, you can have weekly calls to discuss updates and roadblocks and conduct monthly meetings to present reports and plan next month’s agenda.
A lot of communication happens over email which might tend to go unnoticed. To prevent that, you can use a collaboration tool that facilitates open dialogue and keeps all the team members in the loop.
You might also want to improve your agency’s workflow by automating certain mundane tasks that take up too much time.
For example, instead of maintaining a to-do list or manually creating tasks, you can automatically create tasks in Trello from Gmail to improve internal collaboration and productivity.
4. Deliver in-depth reports
Most agencies create client reports but very few do it well.
Don’t treat reporting as just another task because it plays a critical role in retaining clients. This is your opportunity to demonstrate the value you bring to the table and it’s important to make the most of it.
Whether you’re presenting a project status report, a budget report or communicating the results of a campaign, you need to create a business report that accurately reflects your work and presents it in a visually-appealing way.
Here are some tips to create effective reports:
- Identify the metrics you plan to report
- Gather the data you want to present
- Visualize data using charts, infographics, graphs and maps
- Dedicate one topic to one page or one slide
- Use icons to highlight key points
- Use more visuals than text
- Maintain consistent branding throughout the document
Here’s an example of a digital marketing report that communicates the information with tables, bar graphs, doughnut charts and icons, making it easy to understand and digest. It also uses accent colors to highlight important points in the report.
5. Offer value-added services
Offering added value is a great way to boost loyalty, build trust and retain clients. The idea is to come up with value-added services that would be beneficial to your clients without taking a hit on your bottom line.
Look at how you can go beyond your scope of work and offer pro-bono services. For instance, as a PR agency, you can look at conducting regular workshops or seminars on strategic communication strategies, crisis communication, managing media interviews or other areas of expertise.
You can also leverage your database and connect your clients to discuss possible partnership opportunities.
So, if you want to keep your clients happy and have them stay, you need to stop thinking like a third-party vendor and more like a partner. These tactics will help you solidify relationships, improve collaboration and add value, thereby increasing client retention.