Clients have their own internal clients
“Well, you marketing people would think that”.
The workshop we were running for our clients had not started well. We were working with our marketing client to deliver an internal programme that had many moving parts across their entire business. To deliver it successfully we needed input from their sales teams, distribution people, finance and, IT – whom the head of made his opinion about marketers quite clear. As representatives from each division sat around the large boardroom table, the silos were clear from the get-go.
As we let the conversation run around the table, I realised we were witnessing something agencies don't see enough of each day – our client's internal client relationships.
So often the world with our direct client becomes quite insulated. We form strong relationships with them, deliver great work and often provide an outlet for them to off-load their frustrations. But the question is, how well do agencies know their clients' internal clients? How deeply do we understand what it takes to make their business succeed? Not to mention, be aware of the pressures that fill our clients' days.
"I realised we were witnessing something agencies don't see enough of each day – our client's internal client relationships"
What's essential is to not just recognise your client’s pressure, but understand why it happens. The best way to do that is to get to know your client's clients. This can be as simple as asking your client if you can meet different people within the organisation. Ideally together, so that you can watch and listen to how they talk about their business. The different perspectives are often startling and can lead to unveiling critical insights. It will also help you ask questions about your client's business that they may have forgotten to brief the agency about.
This invariably leads to stronger results for your clients. Because once you're back in the agency, you can use this knowledge to deliver the right solutions. That great packaging the team are designing may just not fit with what you know Sue in manufacturing said about the conveyor struggling to pack anything that isn't rectangular.
The above is just a small example. Your client needs to be aware of every issue that makes up their final offer. So based on that, how can we make sure that offer is enhanced – not disrupted – by us?
"The different perspectives are often startling and can lead to unveiling critical insights"
Ultimately, the answer for that is to pave the way for our marketing client to easily sell our ideas and solutions to the broader organisation. That takes a deep understanding of what’s essential to the wider business. We also need to give clear direction on how we got to where we did, so our client can readily answer any internal questions.
Creating every-day tools is also a must for smooth internal client relationships. Developing comprehensive approval and sign-off processes must be in place. Tight adherence to internal deadlines and providing well-managed asset libraries, template systems and the like, all help our client work well with all of theirs.
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