Client Growth Workshops, Your Key To Building Business Organically
- Have a specific agenda. I recommend exploring these three specific potential growth areas: a) Initiatives that build on current agency PR/social media programs; b) Client business-reputation-relationship issues, currently handled by other marketing discipline(s), that a PR/social media initiative could help solve and c) Client business-reputation-relationship issues, not currently being addressed, that a PR/social media initiative could help solve.
- Don’t limit the workshop to your senior team. While these leaders are experienced in understanding business issues and developing strategies, be sure to also include team members at all levels. Lower level staffers should have the ears of lower level clients, and therefore a real street side knowledge of how the client views certain marketing and business challenges. In addition, bringing them into this type of setting as early in their careers as possible will expose them to importance of growing client business, and the strategic process your agency uses to do so.
- Don’t limit the workshop to the client account team. Although the account team has the greatest in-depth client knowledge, those from other teams bring something that’s impossible for the account team to provide: objectivity. And that’s something that the can be invaluable in your quest to build business from existing clients.
- Don’t limit the workshop to your agency. Now’s the time to tap your network of marketers, consultants, freelancers and advisors, who bring even more objectivity, because they don’t see things through your agency’s prism, and may be familiar with best practices from different business categories. Their particular insights and approaches may help you find solutions to your client’s most vexing business and marketing problems, which you might not have generated on your own.
- Don’t limit the workshop to public relations pros. Clients have always been willing to pay for solutions to their toughest problems; they’re more open than ever to ideas that don’t necessarily fit neatly under the public relations umbrella. So don’t limit your solutions? Instead, look at your client’s issues holistically. To do so, your workshop must include participants who can see and solve problems using all the communications solutions at an integrated marketer’s disposal, including digital, promotion, branding and advertising.
- Don’t try to lead the session yourself. The results of this workshop are critical, because if you don’t grow your income from existing clients, you’ll have to do so via generating new clients, which is a much tougher task. So don’t leave them to chance by attempting to lead the session yourself. Hire a facilitator* who’s trained in maximizing session output, managing the politics, bringing out the best in your introverts, and assuring that the creative output is based in strategy and achieves the session’s goals. Another advantage of doing so is that, you’ll be able to add your valuable contributions to the session, something you cannot do if you’re trying to facilitate. (If you execute enough workshops, it might be worth training an employee in brainstorm and workshop facilitation.)
- Book ample time, and require participation, including your own. Building more business from existing clients is critical to your agency’s survival. Treat it accordingly. Book ample time to delve into client issues and generate solutions in each of the areas mentioned in #1. Get it on everyone’s calendars early enough to ensure a large, but manageable group. Require that those who commit to attending do so, including you. Remember, the more time you spend in building business organically, the less time you’ll have to spend in pursuit of new clients, or worse, the RFP hamster wheel!
Do you regularly schedule new business growth workshops for your current clients? What successes and challenges have you had in doing so? I’d love to hear your experiences.
* Disclosure: Jacobs Communications Consulting leads client growth workshops.