In my latest video, I break down how swimming teaches us the importance of these relationship-building efforts and the specifics of what we as leaders need to nurture with our teams.
In an effort to simplify the decision-making process, we're sharing some of the trends we've seen with gifting over the years. We're even sharing our best seller and why that gift had such success.
Last year we had the opportunity to work with one of our clients in the travel and tourism space to design an experience that delivered their highest engagement yet.
Starting this month, we’re launching a series of discussions around the challenges and successes that agencies face when it comes to building relationships with leads, existing clients, and all their other supporting business relationships.
Our first conversation was with Katie Keating of Fancy, a strategically minded creative agency run by, for, and about women! As with most agencies, for Fancy, relationship building is an area that calls for continuous improvement and re-invention. At the time we spoke, Fancy’s leadership team was currently exploring how to make intentional improvements to their relationship-building and sales processes.
Of the three categories of relationships that The Expressory advocates, nurturing lead or prospect nurturing is generally something most companies intend to do, but struggle to maintain (existing clients and the supporting relationships in your ecosystem are the other two categories). Katie expressed, “Lead nurturing is the hardest thing that we do.” With a background in creative directing, Katie shared that she and her co-founder “are great at that, but this is a lot of flexing of different muscles.” This challenge is one that is probably familiar to most agency founders and leaders who typically excel as practitioners, but find that they have to develop additional strengths when building a business.
So what do you do when lead nurturing doesn’t come naturally? You build processes and systems to keep you on track, which is just what Fancy has begun to create. Their goal is to define what the touchpoints will be each time they identify a new lead, worthy of investment. Once they know the touchpoints and they select timeframes, they can build in automation so that their system works the process each and every time - all of this leading to faster conversion rates!
For those who think a lead nurture system is either not worth it, or too complicated to put in place, we get it. We see companies struggle with this all the time. The reality is, Fancy is on the right track. They identified a weakness and are building a system around the idea of “if we could do this for every client every time, it would be great!”. And because systems are consistent, they can test what works and change what doesn’t in a way no one-off lead nurture activity ever could. The dividends are huge, and it's not as hard to put in place as most people think. Now, when you manage to work through all of that, what could possibly become the next roadblock?
It turns out one of the biggest challenges Fancy had was asking for an address. During covid, this became an even greater obstacle. In the past, you might be able to avoid asking for an address by looking up the company’s information. With remote work, it becomes more of a necessity to ask a person for the best mailing address. When it comes to people you already have a relationship with, that’s not a problem. “If it’s somebody that we don’t have that good of a relationship with, it just feels very strange,'' said Katie. As it turns out, this is something that blocks business leaders in all industries from going the extra mile with their relationship building efforts. We hear it all the time. The reality is, it’s a lot easier than most realize. In today’s world of digital and surface relationships, people will gladly share a lot of information to receive additional value.
Tell the contact that you’d like to send them a proper thank you (for meeting with you or for sharing something with you - However you met) and ask for their address to do so. Don’t look at it as ruining the surprise, think of it as adding suspense!
Tell the contact you came across some information (an article or book) that they might find useful, and you’d like to mail it. People don’t turn down knowledge sharing.
After you first meet, tell them that you like to have their address on record because from time to time you like to send tips and maybe even goodies!
Tell the contact that you sometimes release research and like to mail that out.
As you’re scheduling a meeting, ask them for their mailing address so that the coffee/snack can be your treat.
For Fancy, the relationship category that is much more natural for them to develop long-lasting relationships with is their existing clients. “We really try to make some time where we’re engaging with them on a human being level, and not just a work transaction. I think that’s one of the things about our agency is that we really are friendly, and we really do connect with clients in a very human way”, says Katie.
At the core of all good relationships is the desire to be seen and heard as a person. In today’s economy we’ve really seen this come into play for businesses as well. Thanks to the internet, consumers have unlimited options for where they choose to spend their money. When you create a relationship at the human level, you are creating an emotional loyalty that is hard to replace.
While this is an area where Fancy excels, it is often a category of relationships that many forget to nurture. Many agencies believe that once they have the business, the very nature of doing a great job at serving those customers will create the relationship they seek. But the reality is, being good at the work we do is just the price of doing business. That’s an expectation. In exchange for loyalty, your clients need to be emotionally connected with you - they need to LOVE you and your team. Your goal should be to have your clients continue to do business with you because they cannot imagine doing business with anyone else - Emotional loyalty.
Account managers generally keep an eye on all things related to their clients. Make it part of their job to watch for at least one occasion to celebrate each client per year. This is different from birthdays. This should be watching for achievements, goals met, future goals set, life milestones, etc.
Create a plan to execute client appreciation, once a year. Consider what items you could give them that would motivate them toward the future you’re working toward on their account.
Make a celebration of the anniversary of doing business together. If you want them to continue working with you, keep them feeling relevant.
Systematic relationship building will be highly beneficial to any business, but it doesn’t happen without a specific strategy to do so. It’s typically best to start with one category of relationships and implement a consistent process before moving on to the next.
Relationships are the cornerstone of what we do at The Expressory. Let's get to know each other and find out if The Expressory can help you grow your brand. Click here to set up a Marketing Strategy Session or click here for your free guide on Creating Emotional Loyalty by Design. Let us show you how a unique experience can set you apart.