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September 4, 2019

4 ways to manage client expectations for creative agencies

by Louise Cunnah posted in Quick Tips.

DropTask | 4 ways to manage client expectations for creative agencies
Whether you’re a design, branding or marketing agency, managing client’s expectations and their projects to a tee will be the bread and butter of your business. However, with every client having a different requirement and set of goals for each and every project, it’s vital that they are carefully managed in order to exceed their expectations.

The way to do this? With thorough planning, skin-tight organization, seamless communication and more than a dash of creativity. Each of these elements should be utilized to deliver and manage their expectations from the get-go. After all, your reputation is everything, and it could make the difference between future customers choosing you over a competitor.

So, what should you be doing to ensure that each of these ingredients are added to the mix?

1. Do your homework

One of the best ways to manage client expectations? Find out what these are likely to be. Although every creative project should involve an initial kick-off meeting before anything is put into action, you can give yourself a head start (and seriously impress them) by asking them about their competitors and doing some research into what they are doing. If what their competitors are doing is working, chances are your client could expect similar work and results to be produced for them.

While looking at a client’s competitors, you should also research their industry if it’s one you’re not already familiar with, as well as their customer base. This is particularly important when it comes to marketing; after all, the potential customer of a women’s clothing brand will need to be targeted in very different ways to those of a provider of business accountancy software.

Collating this information in a visual document such as a presentation or Mind Map will help you find the information you need at a glance when meeting with the client for the first time, as well as make it easier for them to digest.

2. Find out what they actually want to achieve

Your kick-off meeting is the time for you to really drill down into what your client expects. They will already have their own targets and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) determined, so ask them what they hope to achieve by working with you. Then be honest about whether you can achieve these goals. If they’ve asked for you to get them a thousand new Instagram followers and you know this isn’t possible with the resources and timeframe you’ve been given, let them know straight away – but make sure to come back to them with a more achievable target.

Another useful way to determine expectations is to find out what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past. If they’ve previously used other creative agencies for similar projects, ask them what they achieved, what they were happy with, and why they decided to choose someone else this time. This information could provide some valuable insight into which areas you can offer results that they have been missing in the past.

3. Don’t promise them the Earth

In a similar vein to our first two tips, be clear about what you can deliver (and what you can’t) from the offset. A useful way to set expectations is to use past examples of similar projects you have worked on, so point them in the direction of case studies. If you don’t have any available, then now is a good time to start working on some.

When it comes to what you can deliver, customers respect honesty; this has been proven time and time again. According to Label Insight’s 2016 study, 94% of consumers would be loyal to a brand that offers them complete transparency, and almost 40% would switch to a brand if they appeared to be more transparent than their competitors. This applies to consumers of all types of businesses, including marketing, design and branding agencies.

Is your team great at creating compelling and successful advertising campaigns, but lack the skills and resources to build a website from scratch? That’s okay; if your client is after both of these things, point them in the direction of a great design agency that will be able to do this for them so you can focus on what you do best.

two people having a discussion in a meeting

4. Establish regular conversation

Don’t let communication drop after the initial kick-off meeting. Instead of waiting until report day to say hello, check-in with them on a weekly basis to ensure they’re still happy. Plus, if you know a part of a project is going to be delayed, you can give them a heads-up as soon as possible. Keeping things organized in an online system (such as Task Boards in Ayoa) will make it easier for you to keep track of who’s doing what, when tasks should be done, and any things you’re waiting on.

Additionally, the more input you get from clients, the happier they are likely to be with what you produce for them. This applies whether you’re helping them to rebrand or creating a content marketing calendar for the next quarter. Though many people send documents back and forth to get feedback, the likes of Google Docs and task management software make it easier for you to keep clients up-to-date with the status of projects and get their commentary.

Want to start better managing your client expectations and their projects? Ayoa’s visual Task Boards and Mind Maps give you a central hub to organize actions per client and project, making it easier to keep track of what needs doing and when. You can also share these with clients for easier collaboration. Discover more about Ayoa or try for free for 7 days.


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