As a marketing or advertising account manager, your job is never easy. Clients can be demanding, unclear, hard to reach, argumentative, confusing – the list goes on. Even the most easy-going clients have their moments.
But one of the biggest challenges you might find yourself facing is a client that is afraid of trying new marketing strategies. Changing the mind of a client who is stuck in their ways can be daunting. Often, an account manager will end up overcompensating and putting in extra hours, only to find the client still isn’t willing to budge. The end result is a client who is frustrated because they aren’t seeing the growth or return-on-investment they were hoping for, and an account manager who is very close to burning out.
Luckily, there is a better way. These five tips will help you bring even the staunchest hold-overs into modern marketing times, saving you precious time and energy and promising a happier client-agency relationship.
1. Tread slowly. Even if you think the client’s current marketing strategies need a major overhaul, don’t bombard them with too many new ideas at once. Instead, start with the idea that will have the greatest ROI and show impact the fastest. Once you win over their trust with your initial plan, you should have better luck convincing them to explore new programs going forward.
2. Do your homework. Even though you’re the expert, a client may be wary to simply take your word that some trendy new marketing strategy is the way to go. Before presenting your plan, do some research and consider putting together a well-thought-out presentation. Include plenty of data and authoritative sources.
3. Share a success story or two. One of the best ways to connect with a client and show them that you understand exactly where they’re coming from is by providing testimonials or customer success stories from companies just like them. If you can put a human face to the story – in a short video, for example – that always helps, although more traditional case studies or a poignant quote could work, too.
4. Consider a proof of concept. Let’s be honest, a proof of concept (POC) is not always the most efficient use of your energy or resources – in essence, you are putting time and money into a project that your client may not sign off on. However, this method does have a few big advantages. For one thing, it will demonstrate to the client that you are so confident in your plan, you went ahead and got the ball rolling. You’ll also be providing them with them tangible evidence that your new marketing strategies are not just feasible, but also really cool. For many clients, seeing is believing. Wow them with your presentation, and don’t be surprised if you seal the deal.
5. Get excited. While it’s true that enthusiasm alone may not be enough to change the mind of an old-school client, it can be a valuable tool in helping you get your point across. There’s a reason they say passion is contagious. Keep an optimistic attitude and you might just inspire your client to come on board with your new marketing strategy – no matter how resistant they were to begin with.
Above all, remember this when you’re working with a client that doesn’t want to try new marketing strategies: Fear of the unknown is most likely what’s holding them back. Empathy is a necessary skill for anyone working in a client-facing role. Once you’ve put yourself in their shoes, you’ll find you have a much easier time communicating with clients and making them feel comfortable in the midst of change.