Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the collaborators are his.
You only have one chance to make a good first impression. In marketing, this opportunity is the incorporation process, where you welcome a new customer to the fold and start setting the wheels in motion for a successful campaign. A well-designed incorporation process will help you set expectations for both your team and the client, while a poorly planned process could strain client-agency relationships.
The secret? Make it simple. In just three phases, you can successfully incorporate a new client, ensure a successful campaign launch, and consolidate yourself as the agency they will stay with.
Related: 5 ways to facilitate the incorporation of new customers
1. Define the terms of the campaign before you begin your work, without exception
I usually have two or three meetings with a potential client before they sign in. The first is a standard introduction, and the other one or two are longer discussions about their own business goals and how I can help them achieve them. Then, I take everything I’ve learned and write a proposal with a campaign that I think would serve them well. Before I go any further, I have them thoroughly review the contract and accept the terms.
You do not want to run a campaign without the established terms of service. Failure to do so could allow a customer to leave for not meeting unreasonable demands. Your customers may be business experts in their field, but they are not salespeople. You should be the one to define the terms of the campaign: select the best social networking platforms for them, whether they need long content or not, generating ideas for advertising and more.
My advice while planning your proposal: think big, start small. Get them with a simple start-up campaign, and then make appropriate additional sales when it’s time to renew them. For an initial campaign, my favorite are two social networking platforms (content and advertising) and a digital service such as email marketing or podcast production.
Whatever you choose, present them, consider the adjustments they suggest, and get a signed contract. If they’re on the fence, say, “It looks like you need a little more time to think about it. I’ll leave this contract with you and come back in a few days.” Get in touch in five days or so, and if they don’t respond, it shouldn’t be, at least not yet. However, I have had many clients who have phantomed me for a few months and then returned when the time was right and signed the contract.
Related: Eight customer incorporation practices that you should give up right now
2. Have a pre-campaign meeting to set needs and deadlines
Once a customer has officially registered, the first thing I do is introduce them to the team that will be working on their campaign. It is important to make these presentations and establish these points of contact at the beginning of the process. Otherwise, the new customer will address you for any questions no matter how trivial or easy to resolve.
With relevant team members and customer contact points together in a Zoom call, we begin to set campaign goals, define what each side of the other needs, and when they can achieve it. The following is a list of results that were set during the typical pre-campaign meeting:
The account manager and the customer decide for a moment to meet and establish access to all social media profiles, the backend of the customer’s website, their email marketing program, Shopify and anything else. .
The creative team and the client choose a time to have what we call a “storytelling meeting,” basically a long interview with the client to get an idea of the desired visual and verbal presentation. This meeting usually lasts about 90 minutes.
Make sure they have access to our communication tool: we use Basecamp, because it has a separate internal side and a client. I recommend training the client so that they only communicate through Basecamp, Slack or whatever you use. It is much easier than email.
Finally, I explain to the client what my team will do over the next few weeks: a website analysis, competitor analysis, keyword research, a SWOT analysis, the first round of creativity, and more.
Once this meeting is over, I send them a report and a welcome email that includes the same information. One, because it’s just a polite, professional thing, and two, because if they start sending you emails asking “where’s X, where’s Y?” you have the calendar agreed in writing.
Related: 5 Ways Your Agency Can Improve Your Customer Experience
3. Take between three weeks and a month to gather your research and initial content
I try to advance a month in all campaigns, give my team time to do all the meetings mentioned above, gather all the data and generate the reports that will create the customer presentation and create all the content in time to improve and refine if necessary.
In the past, my method was to get things done as quickly as possible, so that the customer had the pieces of the campaign in front of them instantly. But no one does their best job in these conditions, and all they do is give customers the idea that we will struggle to move mountains whenever they ask for it.
Quality takes time: I recommend that you don’t sacrifice that time just to impress a customer who has already registered. When the work is produced in an unnecessarily tight timeframe, it is usually shown in the final product.
The incorporation process is important. Set customer expectations, present them to the team, set goals for the campaign, and result in the first impression your team is capable of. Reducing it to these three relatively simple steps will eliminate room for mistakes or clutter and ensure that all customers start their campaigns knowing that you are an efficient and productive agency that cares about your business.
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