The Art of Winning Old Business
Winning old business? At Fluro, that’s what we call being given incremental work from an existing client. Did you know it can cost five times more for a design agency to bring in business from a new client than it does to secure more work from a client you already have? It’s not hard to work out why.
The cost of pitching
On top of the marketing costs that went into attracting the client’s attention in the first place, there are invariably pitching costs, covering both time and materials. If everything goes according to plan, you’ll also be faced with the added expense of setting up a new team to manage the work.
So, how can you ensure your client comes back for their next project instead of working with a new design agency?
We view client relationships a bit like a marriage. If we do things right, understanding and trust will naturally grow over time. However, while familiarity is a good thing in many ways, it’s also something to be wary of. You can’t afford to take your partner for granted. You’ve always got to make sure there’s more “for better” than there is “for worse”.
Building long relationships
We’d like to think we’re quite good at building successful long-term relationships at Fluro. We’ve had repeat business from Brooks Running Shoes for eight years, Gartner and Tangent Link for seven years and the National Film and Television School (NFTS) for four.
Gill Woods, Events & Alumni Manager at the NFTS looks for a range of qualities from her agency. “I came across Fluro whilst tendering for a design agency to work on the conceptual development for our annual Gala event. I’m delighted to say our relationship is ongoing. I find Fluro really proactive, collaborative and creative and overall. They’re an absolute pleasure to work with.”
We would say Gill has hit the nail bang on the head with the qualities she values (and we’re flattered she’s attributed them to us). Be proactive, collaborative, creative and a pleasure to work with and most clients will keep coming back for more.
You might think a client is ‘your client’, but that won’t stop other design agencies going out of their way to try and get a foot in the door. That’s what you’re up against and all-singing all-dancing spontaneous approaches might well be what you’re being judged against.
To compete you need to be proactive too. Keep an eye on tactical opportunities and what’s going on in the market. Maybe you could even prepare a presentation to share with your client explaining what’s new in the world of design. Not only would that inspire their thinking, it should also help develop your relationship.
Most clients really enjoy being an integral part of the process. We like that too because ongoing collaboration eliminates the stress of a do-or-die unseen final presentation. It also ensures our thinking stays close to the mark throughout the process.
Working in stages and taking the back off the watch to expose our thinking and scribbles helps the client to shape things as we go. While it’s always good to keep some surprises up your sleeve for the final reveal, it’s bound to keep your client relaxed and boost your confidence if you know you’re already half way there.
Creativity is the key quality that any client will look for in a design agency. After all, the creative product is ultimately what they’re paying for.
It’s funny though – some clients will tell you they want brave creative solutions but, when it really comes down to it, they prefer to stay in their comfort zone. That’s why we like to present more than one solution. Offering alternatives allows us to take risks with one of the directions. It also means feedback like “I love it, but we could never run with that”. But that doesn’t mean our creative presentation is automatically over.
Be a pleasure to work with
The fact is, people like doing business with people they like. That means we strive to be positive, even in the face of negative feedback .
Be trustworthy, transparent, reliable, courteous. Try not to tell your client to get stuffed when they tell you the budget is not as big as it was for the last project. Oh, and treating your client to the occasional long lunch will never go amiss!
Every long-lasting relationship has to start with a first project. If you’re interested in seeing what makes Fluro a ‘keeper’ with many of our clients, please give one of the team a call on 01628 525449.