I recently wrote about an often-overlooked part of the marketing communication process: account management. When you land a client and commence a project, it’s easy to think the most important aspect of the road ahead is the great marketing that will be done. And of course, that’s the whole point. But no matter how good the marketing, there’s always another critical thing that looms just as important – keeping the client informed, happy and engaged with the effort.
The attention to the client relationship just can’t be over emphasized. Think of your relationship with a doctor. He or she may be the best, most knowledgeable medical professional around, but if the two of you can’t communicate…if you’re not on the same page regarding the treatment…if one party doesn’t feel at ease with the other…if there is a misunderstanding…the relationship may not work.
So it is with marketing firms and their clients. My next few posts will focus on a few tips I’ve learned about account management through the years. The first one is this:
Always present ideas, creative briefs and plans in person. With phone, e-mail, Skype and the myriad of other technologies available, it’s easy to opt for less time intensive ways of interacting. But nothing beats meeting face to face especially at the start of a project.
I once had a client that was a 3-hour drive from my office. Normally, I always went there at the start of each project. One time, we were both busy and had trouble finding a meeting time that worked for all. Since we’d worked together and knew each other well already, we decided I’d send a strategy document via e-mail, and we’d follow up on the phone. We did that. But later, part way through the project, I realized we weren’t on the same page with things. I came to realize much of it was because we’d skimped on the meeting.
Why does face time matter? Think body language. Think about the ability to see if the client is engaged and focused. In person meetings usually last longer than phone calls, so there’s more opportunity to interact. It became clear to me that in the quest to save time by not traveling to the client’s location, I actually wasted time because it took longer to get the project off the ground. It was then I realized that face time is key (and I don’t mean FaceTime, as in that app from Apple).
Think of the doctor visit again. Sure, you can receive medical advice from afar, but for the really critical things, wouldn’t you rather actually meet with the doctor in person?
Next time: Be careful when sharing opinions about a client’s current marketing efforts.