Four Easy Steps for Successful Communication Between an Agency & Client
Successful communication is a skill that can be hard to learn and harder to teach but is extremely valuable. Good communication between two parties can help make tough situations easier and good situations great. This is especially important when communicating between an agency, like Granular, and a client. Both parties have different backgrounds and different levels of knowledge of digital advertising and the client’s business. Neither party can be successful if there’s not open and clear communication.
Let’s discuss a few quick tips for mastering communication from both the perspective of an ad specialist at Granular and the client.
#1: To be a good communicator, you need to be a good listener.
Good communication is not all about how you speak or even what you say. In order to communicate effectively, you need to listen more than you speak, because you’ll never be able to properly address the other party’s concerns unless you fully understand them.
The Agency: Always give time during a meeting for your clients to express their opinions and ask questions. This is your opportunity to hear directly from them about any concerns they may have and gives you a chance to understand their point of view. After fully listening to what they have to say, you can circle back to address any questions. To avoid interrupting a client’s train-of-thought, jot notes down as you listen so that you don’t lose track of what they’re asking and how you want to respond.
The Client: As a client, you might fall on either end of this spectrum: your eyes may gloss over when the agency starts getting into the Granular-ity of it all, or you may absolutely drink in every bit of information. To the agency, it’s not important that you understand all of the inner workings of an account, but it is important for you to know that your account is in good hands. Listen for key words and questions that are important to you: Is the agency addressing your KPIs. Do their goals align with yours? Listen for your buzzwords to ensure you’re all rowing in the same direction.
#2: Ask the right questions.
If you’ve mastered the skill of listening, it becomes much easier to ask the right questions. Open-ended questions give you the opportunity to learn more about the other party’s perspective and gain additional insights that you otherwise may not have. Listening when others speak and asking questions based on their statements is a great place to start.
The Agency: Chances are that your client contact loves to talk about their business, so give them the opportunity to expand your knowledge of their business by asking open-ended questions. For example:
- What are your overall business objectives?
- Describe your ideal agency relationship.
- What single change do you think would impact your business the most?
- How does lead volume feel from your perspective?
The Client: When working with an experienced agency, it’s not important to know all of the inner workings of your business’ ad account, but you do need to make sure that everyone is moving toward the same goals for your best business outcomes. Some examples of good open-ended questions for agencies are:
- How will we be keeping a pulse on our KPIs?
- When can we expect to see performance improvements?
- What changes do you feel are most important to make right away?
- What new strategies could we implement to grow business?
#3: Be clear and concise.
It is possible to get information overload, especially when starting a new client relationship. Clients have varying levels of knowledge of advertising and the agency may only have an entry level understanding of the client’s industry. Therefore it’s important to leave out jargon to make the message as clear as possible.
The Agency: Always start by assessing the client’s comfort level with marketing jargon. If your contact is a marketing director, they may be familiar with terms like RSA and CPA. However it’s best to start conversations with everything laid out in clear terms. Avoid jargon and take the time to explain any new concepts to the client. It’s ok to ask “are you familiar with how RSAs work?”. It’s also a good idea to have an explanation of common terms planned in advance. Some aspects of marketing can be complex. If you can find a way to explain things like Impression Share in 1-2 sentences, your client will be grateful and will walk away with a better understanding.
The Client: As author Brene Brown says, “clear is kind.” The clearer you can be with your expectations, the more likely they are to be met. If you have specific goals for your business, make sure to explicitly state them for the agency to understand. If you want to have a certain type of communication within your agency relationship, make that clear. It’s also a good idea to have the other party confirm to you what they have heard to ensure everyone is on the same page. The more clarity there is between parties, the more comfortable and successful everyone will be.
#4: Don’t forget to make a connection.
It’s no joke that between listening, asking questions, and being clear and concise in your responses, you might start to feel overwhelmed and the human aspect of conversation may fall away. As you get more experience, things will become more comfortable. Try to find opportunities to make a joke or ask a personal question to learn more about each other on a human level. If all else fails, you can always start with the weather.
Ultimately, people like working for and with people they like. When you accomplish clear and successful communication, you’re more likely to forge lasting, trusting relationships.