Does Your Marketing Agency Have a Client Retention Problem? Jonathan Herrick As an industry, marketing experiences a lot of ups and downs. When the economy is in good shape, companies are willing to spend more on marketing efforts and try new approaches to sell their products and services. When the economy takes a downturn, though, these same companies are more watchful and expect greater results for the same marketing spend. If a company isn’t satisfied with its marketing or ad agency, they may take their budget elsewhere in search of better results. Even when things are going well in the economy, many companies are finicky when it comes to marketing budgets. Is this a problem that your agency is facing? It’s not always easy to tell if client turnover is just a fluke or part of a bigger problem. Fortunately, if you do have a turnover problem, there are ways you can deal with it before it spirals out of control. Do You Have a Problem? Has your agency been losing clients lately? If so, that’s obviously a problem … but it may not be a sign of an ongoing turnover problem. Look at the last few clients that have left your agency and consider how long each was a client for. Look back into your records at previous departures and check how long each of those were clients as well. Has the number of departures increased over time, especially in comparison to the number of new clients? Are you losing long-term clients, or are they primarily short-term clients that seem to just be testing the waters? Losing a few clients as isolated incidents doesn’t mean that you have a major client retention problem. It’s not ideal, but it’s something you can recover from. However, if you’re starting to notice patterns in your losses or an acceleration of losses over time in comparison to new client onboarding, then you may have a major issue developing. Why Do Clients Leave? There are a few different reasons why clients may choose to leave your marketing agency. Common reasons for turnover include: Lack of Connection: The client’s wishes and the agency’s process just don’t jive, and the client isn’t getting exactly what it wants from your agency’s strategy.Lack of Communication: If a client doesn’t feel like an agency sees them as a priority, they may keep looking until they find an agency that does.Lack of Consistency: While an agency’s first marketing push may knock things out of the park, most clients won’t stick it out if there isn’t a well-designed follow-up.Lack of Quality: Few things can kill an agency faster than producing low-quality work that reflects badly on a client’s image. There are a number of other reasons that clients may choose to part ways with agencies as well. A lot of them even fall on the client’s side of things, relating to internal decisions or changes in corporate culture. Since you can’t do anything about client-side issues, take a moment to focus on what you can do on your end to improve client retention. Possible Solutions to Your Turnover Woes If you do discover a client turnover problem within your agency, it’s not too late to take steps to correct it. Assuming your marketing agency doesn’t have a specific problem that can be addressed directly, examine how your agency interacts with clients and what you can do to improve the quality of those interactions. Every client should feel like they’re your most important client. Don’t let one client overshadow another, no matter how large or small. Maintain frequent communication, even between major initiatives, and make sure you never come across as distracted or uninterested when on a call or doing any other work with a client. As far as the client is concerned, in the time they have with you, they should be the only client on your roster. The same applies to the work that you do. When your team is on task, there are no “small clients” or “big clients,” but each and every one should receive the same effort to connect to their core brand and deliver results within their budget. The best way you can fight a client turnover problem is to show your clients that they matter, regardless of the size of their budget or where they are in the marketing cycle. Looking to the Future Once you have a handle on how to approach potential issues causing turnover for your agency, it’s important to keep from falling back into old habits. A renewed focus on your clients is a great place to start building a reputation as a high-quality agency that puts its clients first. Even difficult clients deserve your best effort, and the more often you put forth that extra effort, the more often you’ll be recognized as an agency that really cares about its clients’ needs. Even if you don’t have a turnover problem, it’s not a bad idea to examine how you come across to your clients and whether that image could be improved. The work you put in now will pay off significantly down the road, especially if the effort is proactive instead of reactive. Even big clients want to feel special, and when they leave other agencies, they’ll be looking for someone like you to fill the gap.