In-house agencies have spent enough time trying to convince clients that they’re as good as their external counterparts. It’s time to stop talking and show them what you’ve got.
Leverage your business acumen.
Get involved in solving problems by initiating conversations with clients regarding their business objectives and marketing strategies. Stop talking about being a partner and start acting like one. Institutional knowledge, product and marketplace acumen, consumer insight—these things are no longer optional for in-house agency personnel. For too long, internal agencies have focused on brand expertise at the sacrifice of participating in deeper, more meaningful ways with their clients. Know the client’s business as well as, if not better than, the client does. And know the business of advertising and marketing communications too. At that point, you’re no longer just doing the work; you’re a true asset to both the client and the corporation.
Present unsolicited ideas.
Don’t wait for clients to ask you to do something. If you have a good idea, share it—in fact, shout it. External agencies have been doing this for years. And you’d better believe they’re doing it now given tighter marketing budgets. I’ve had so many in-house folks tell me, “We don’t do strategy, our clients do that.” If you know the client’s business, the consumer and the brand, and you know what’s going on in the world of multi-channel marketing, why sit on the sidelines and let your clients do all the thinking? Set-up forums within your own organization that solicit ideas from anyone and everyone. Brainstorm messaging and outreach strategies. Explore new ways of engaging consumers. Develop the ideas that have merit and share them with your clients. And don’t just do it once, do it every time there’s an idea worth sharing. Make this a way of doing business.
Change the client dynamic.
Both of these points lead to the same end—that is, arriving at a new way of being and working with your clients. It not only requires deeper business acumen and sharing unsolicited ideas, it requires confidence—that and a belief that the old model of 51/49, where your client has 51% of the vote and you have 49%, is no longer valid. It’s not about who gets the final say; it’s about the best ideas ultimately getting executed. Changing the dynamic with your clients starts with changing your behaviors first and trusting that your clients will follow.