Adam Binder is the Founder & Creative Director of Creative Click Media, a full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in New Jersey.
Famed entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said: “A few simple disciplines can have a major impact on how your life works out in the next 90 days, let alone in the next 12 months or the next 3 years.”
It may not seem like much time at all in the grand scheme, but the impression you make, victories you achieve, and the rapport you build with a client during your first 90 days together will set the stage for the trajectory of your professional relationship moving forward. This certainly adds a great deal of pressure to the already intimidating task of making a positive early impression on a client, but it makes sense. After all, how many of your personal relationships would you still pursue if you hadn’t formed a meaningful connection after three months?
The number one way to set yourself up for a long-term and mutually beneficial agency-client relationship is to demonstrate the value your agency’s team can provide to their business. One of the most effective ways to ensure you are on your way to a successful day 90 and beyond is to track your progress with benchmarks at each phase of your first three months.
Before Day 1: The Learning Phase
Okay, I’ll admit it: The first 90 days of your relationship with a client are actually longer than that. This is because a client is unlikely to sign a contract that kicks off day 1 if they do not see that your company has put in the work to understand their business, their audience and their goals.
As soon as you first make contact with a potential client, you and your team should be learning as much as you can about who they are, which challenges they’re facing and how your agency could add value through your services. Meet with your client to learn this information from them directly, in addition to doing your own research into industry insights. Doing your due diligence ahead of time will demonstrate that your agency has a vested interest in the success of your client’s account, and the information you gather will provide you with the roadmap you’ll need to carry you through to the next phase.
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By Day 15: The Listening Phase
A large portion of your first few weeks working with a new client includes creating your first round of marketing materials — design mockups, keyword strategies, copy drafts and so on. This also means you will be faced with your first rounds of client feedback.
Revisions are inevitable as agencies and clients learn how each other thinks, operates and visualizes the potential for their account. When you receive this initial feedback, the most imperative thing to do is listen. Pay attention to the marketing elements that you and your client do not see eye to eye on, and be sure to ask them what about it does not work for them. This will enable you to get on the same page regarding style and expectations before you move onto the next — and possibly most important — phase of the first 90 days.
By Day 30: The Implementing Phase
By the end of your first month, you should have a clear and comprehensive plan in motion for the trajectory of your client’s campaign. You might also have some early data available to you, enabling you to begin tracking your performance to-date. The previous phases were focused on planning — from here on out, it’s all about doing.
Share your marketing approach and progress with your client, either in the form of face-to-face meetings or a monthly report. Being able to provide your client with tangible evidence of your company’s success will strengthen your relationship and build on your trust, both of which will be critical heading into the final phase of the 90-day benchmark.
By Day 90: The Building Phase
By the time your client’s account reaches day 90, you should have a consistent communication process in place, a wider array of measurable results, and hopefully a few wins under your belt as well. From here on out, your mission is to build on the relationship you’ve formed and look for additional ways to add value moving forward.
Meet with your client to assess the vitality of their campaign in its first 90 days, highlighting strengths and identifying areas to focus on moving forward. Deepening your client’s trust in your team by providing proven results opens the door for an upsell, whether that be through a re-engagement campaign, additional services, or a larger budget.
The strategy you create, successes you achieve and bonds you build during your first 90 days with a new client will determine the strength and longevity of your working relationship moving forward. Make the most of this critical timeframe by setting benchmarks, tracking your progress and celebrating your wins.
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Author: Adam Binder, Forbes Councils Member