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How we build successful long-term client relationships

James Trowman

At The Frameworks, we believe in developing and growing long-term client relationships.

They provide a stable financial platform for our business. They are an opportunity for us to showcase our expertise and, in turn, to help us recruit new clients and new employees. Strong relationships can last a whole career through client promotions and job moves and provide recurring opportunities to work with people we know and understand.

But it takes work.

Here are a few things we do to build and strengthen our client relationships:

We deeply understand the challenge before we begin the work

We first need to fully understand the challenge and our role to do the best work.

We research the brief to get an in-depth understanding of who we are trying to help or influence. Then we go the extra mile to ensure we’re delivering the best piece of work.

Showing enthusiasm and passion for the work builds a strong level of trust with our clients as the relationship develops.

We invest time in relationships

Every one of our clients has their own personal career objectives. As a consultancy, we are in a solid position to support their career goals in a way that creates joint success.

Successful work helps people get recognised within their business, which supports and aids promotion opportunities.

We are proud of our clients and their work, as well as the work we do for them. We celebrate them – we’ve sent gifts or taken clients out for  drinks when we’ve secured a big win.

We invest in excellent work and a supportive relationship. So, when clients move into other positions or new businesses, we are often their first point of contact when they want to win again.

We share what we’ve learned 

As an consultancy, we’re always interested in the projects and activities other agencies have carried out (our subscriptions to Campaign, Creative Review, Advertising Week, and others attest to that). Clients are no different, particularly when it comes to a shared challenge.

Sharing insights or examples from successful pieces of work (as long as they are not confidential) tends to delight clients. It helps broaden the base of trust in our strategy and design approach and execution.

We build a deep understanding of our client’s business direction and reporting structure

Focusing on our client’s business journey is crucial for efficiently and effectively delivering a project.

We always think beyond the task that’s immediately in front of us. Our research illuminates the bigger picture to understand our client’s strategy, values, and broader objectives.

Especially with larger companies, we know from experience that reporting structures change, which means we adapt quickly.

Knowing who is responsible for what and who reports to whom helps guide us on where our own time and efforts need to be spent developing new relationships and new opportunities.

We continually promote our skills, expertise and new working approaches 

It’s not just the work we produce that keeps client relationships strong; how we approach the tasks and challenges are essential too.

We invest our time in looking at new collaboration tools, for example. Platforms like Slack have worked well to bring us closer to our clients, especially as many of us are working away from the places we used to meet.

Still, there’s every chance a client won’t know all of the services we can offer beyond what we’ve just done for them.

So, we tell them. We share examples from the rest of our portfolio. And sometimes, we find they’re actively looking for a new agency partner for a project and simply didn’t know we could help.

We keep on top of how our work performs

Sometimes it can be hard to know how well our deliverables have performed. So, we’re not shy to ask.

Toasting success or learning together from jobs that didn’t perform as well as planned are bonding experiences and critical opportunities to learn for the future.

And if a project has been done well, we celebrate it. We enter awards. We tell other clients.

We promote the client relationship internally

...And we tell each other. We must be all aware of our clients’ challenges and the great things we’re doing together.

We keep our teams appraised of what’s being delivered, received and how the project and client businesses perform.

Maintaining a long-standing client relationship is not down to a couple of people; every Frameworker plays a part.

Because, we know that the work of building and maintaining strong client relationships helps drive our own quality of work and builds a foundation of success for future projects and collaborations.

Versions of this article first appeared in Mediashotz and Advertising Week in August 2021