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Most agencies focus on the beginning -- the courting of a new client, the competition of the pitch, and the celebration of a win.
But the ending, which is inevitable, is just as important as the beginning.
How you breakup shows what type of agency you really are.
There are a lot of reasons why agencies and their clients breakup, such as:
- They want to move the work in-house.
- They want to consolidate their marketing and advertising activities and have chosen another firm.
- They are unhappy with the results or working relationship with the agency.
- A new executive team or CMO wants to work with an agency she has a prior relationship with.
- They are cutting the marketing budget and no longer can afford your services.
- You've fired the client (and sometimes you should, read here).
Be the agency the client regrets breaking up with by following these steps:
1) Create a transition plan.
Depending on the reason for the break, create a transition plan that outlines the stages of moving the work from your firm to the client-side or another agency.
2) Deliver a project/relationship highlights.
It’s a good idea to review the relationship and provide the client with a document outlining all the “wins” of your relationship. If you collected benchmark data when you first began the relationship, you can compare what the client’s brand and its online presence look like now in comparison to the early days of your relationship.
3) Collect assets for transfer.
Even if the relationship only lasted one year, you've gathered a ton of information and assets that are the client’s property. Organize all creative files, stock photos purchased, strategy documents, contracts or SOW information, fonts, logos, monthly reports, etc. Include any account login information for web services used during the relationship.
4) Conduct a client survey.
When’s the best time to get so-true-it-hurts feedback? After the breakup. This is when people feel like they can be honest.
This will help you to close the loop between how you perceive the services you provide to clients and the reality.
5) Ask the client to do a case study.
If the relationship led to positive results for the client and they are leaving on good terms, ask if they would be involved.
6) Conduct an agency post-mortem
The post-mortem will be a point of reflection for the entire team on the agency-client relationship. Especially if this was an important relationship or long-lasting one, you will want to understand what went wrong, what could have been better, and what your team can learn from the experience. This type of reflection can help your staff learn from mistakes made, reinforce positive behaviors, and reconsider how things are currently being accomplished.
Losing a client isn't the worst thing.
Take it as an opportunity to find a new account or to review how your agency works. Learn from the experience so that the next "beginning" makes for a longer, more profitable relationship.