I Want All the Brains: A Non-Zombie Approach to Client Success

Your account managers seem to be perpetually on a client call. Your developers are always wearing headphones. And your creative team is—ugh—all the way at the other end of the floor. You have the feeling you should be chatting more, throwing around ideas, but you can’t seem to make it happen.

Sound familiar? Even if you hold regular meetings with members from different teams, those meetings will invariably lack some key players, and they’re most likely meant to serve a very particular purpose. You want to make sure the house isn’t falling down—you want to check in, check out and get back to work.

We started thinking about how to do things differently (that’s kind of our thing). We wondered: how can we better serve our clients? What about calling a company-wide meeting? Get everyone together in the cafeteria, or outside on the grassy knoll. Hell, sit on the floor of the hallway if you have to. And take the whole afternoon. Obviously, if your firm is 200 people, this will prove difficult, and not necessarily all that productive. But if you’re a smaller agency, then you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

A large gathering is nothing innovative in itself, and we’ve had plenty of those in the past. But we needed a fresh approach, so we decided to be clear about one thing: this agency-strong effort is not simply an expanded update on client campaigns and their successes. It’s not an opportunity to pat yourselves on the collective back (which is important, to be sure, but not over the course of several hours). No, this is a chance to dig deep into pain points, to discuss forthrightly some of the challenges you’re facing across different channels and with your different client partners. Be relentless. Be unforgiving. Don’t leave the room until some truly terrific ideas are on your notepad and in your noggin.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision, whether you’re a project manager, an account manager, or a designer. You’ve been nurturing the same campaign or overhauling the same website for so long that your mind is firmly rooted in the box. It needs to step outside. When people who have never touched your project come to it with fresh eyes, they’re going to surprise and delight you. After all, you’ve got a supremely talented team of digital marketing experts. They’re curious problem-solvers by nature. And you want all their brains.

Tossing around strategies for your boutique pet store client may trigger something when you begin discussing the university you’re working with. Or you recently saw some success in paid social when you tried something for client A, and you just signed client B, who targets a similar audience—might not that same strategy also produce fruitful results? At some point in time, two or more projects have probably been stalled under similar circumstances, but these projects never formally shook hands. We need to improve communication in this regard to ensure that we continue to move forward, with angles we hadn’t previously considered.

At our inaugural collection of the brains, we came up with a great idea for streamlining our responsive design work. We hammered out some legality issues (yes, non-lawyers contributed). Above all, we reaffirmed our commitment to client success through cross-account knowledge sharing and company-wide input. That’s why we’re here, after all. We work so that clients can meet and exceed their goals.

How has your agency struck down the status quo? Drop us a comment and fill us in.