We talk quite a lot in our game about partnering with our clients and building longterm relationships, but they can simply be weasel words if there is nothing actually in place to make those relationships functional.
So what does a real agency-client partnership look like?
1) It’s honest.
We bring our best brains to the table when we meet, and we give the honest benefit of our experience when you ask for our advice. We are here to help you get the best results from whatever project we are involved in.
On the other side, we expect that you will be honest with us about things like your expectations, your budgets, any major changes ahead that might impact our relationship with you, any aspects of your organisational culture we should be aware of etc.
2) It’s trusting.
We appreciate this can take time to build if the relationship is a new one, but we place our trust in you and your organisation to be honest with us (see point 1), to do those handy things like pay our bills on time in exchange for the effort we put in on your behalf and so on.
We expect you to trust that we are delivering our best work, providing experienced advice, not trying to scam you in any way when we make recommendations, and not overcharging you for products or services.
3) It can weather the storms.
A true partnership is one that will survive the bumpy bits that may happen from time to time. Sometimes those bumps at our end are caused by external factors (like hackers, technology shifts, platform changes) and sometimes they might be caused by the fact that everyone involved is merely human. And sometimes the bumps at your end might be financial issues, changes in management or ownership, changes in strategy within your business or organisation and so on. Occasionally all/any of the parties involved might make mistakes.
The thing is, if points 1 and 2 are in play, it is much easier for everyone to get through the storms. The earlier you can let us know about any impending issues, the easier it is for the issue to be managed effectively. And we commit to doing the same from our end – signalling ahead of time anything we are aware of that could impact your business or your web presence.
4) It uses technology effectively.
We work with a set of tools internally that we often share with our clients during the process of developing strategies, creating and getting signoff on design work, building the development version of new sites and more.
We invite you to use these tools to help with your side of the project too, for example, our content gathering tool is really helpful to clients – you don’t need to gather multiple Word docs and try and work out where content should go on different pages etc. You can simply use the tool we invite you to share.
And our design prototyping tool means you can see your website design online, click on a few links and get the closest possible idea of what the finished site might look like without it actually being a fully functional website.
5) It recognises our respective areas of expertise.
In a true partnership, each partner has a specific role to fill. As the client, your role is to be the expert in what your organisation is all about, what your goals are, why you are engaging with us, what internal dynamics need to be taken into account etc.
Our role is to be the experts in digital strategy, design, website and app building – and to listen of course to your input in those areas. We will push back sometimes if we feel things are heading in a direction that won’t work for your objectives, but there are times when a client feels they know their role and our role better than we do – and then things can get bumpy.
Sometimes that means we choose to part ways, or refer you on to another agency that might be a better fit for you. We don’t give up without putting our best efforts into maintaining the relationship, but sometimes both parties just need to walk away.
6) It can be fun!
We do our best to bring a little surprise and delight to the table – at the very least, you know you won’t be meeting with a team of stuffy suits who don’t know how to enjoy the moment. Our approach to delivering for our clients is a serious as it gets, but the way we engage with you is pretty relaxed. We like having you visit LemonHQ and from time to time we will invite you in for special events, seminars and social occasions.
7) It includes sharing our learning.
We are continuously researching new technologies, approaches and trends, so from time to time we make an effort to share anything significant with our client partners through our social media channels, newsletters, seminars and in person meetings.
We also really appreciate it when you share with us anything that is trending within your sector that we might have missed. Again, we expect you to be the experts in your business, and sharing any developments really helps us to apply our perspective and review how that might affect the direction we are heading in together.
In conclusion …
So that’s a snapshot of what we mean when we talk about partnering with our clients for long term relationships.
We are definitely not in the business of a digital “spray and walk away” approach – we are in it for the longhaul and we greatly appreciate our clients who are committed to being in it with us.