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Metric Masterminds, Episode 103: Megan Young & Daniel Toft Deep Dive On How to Grow Successful Client Relationships

By Scott Ginsberg, Content Manager at Metric Digital

Welcome to another episode of Metric Masterminds!

These weekly chats are digital marketing deep dives from our resident experts at Metric Digital.

(If you missed our last episode, you can still learn about the future of digital marketing.)

Client service has become a critical brand differentiator in the world of digital marketing. Account people have perhaps the largest job description of anyone in the agency. But it’s both an art and a science. Keeping projects running on time and budget, communicating questions and making proactive recommendations is no easy task.

I sat down with two of our veteran account directors, Megan Young & Daniel Toft, to chat about the ins and outs of client services. Topics include:

1. Telltale signs of ideal clients
2. Growing revenue through testing
3. Curiosity as a value proposition
4. Scope creep, boundaries and other joys of client services
5. Mastering the nuance of marketing platforms
6. Handling information overwhelm
7. Lightning round

# # #

Scott: How would you describe an ideal client?

Daniel: There are a wide variety of ideal clients. The first two words that come to mind are organized and interested. That sets the tone of the client relationship and in a lot of cases, the success of an account and their business.

Also, a client who is willing to take five minutes on some calls and not talk about work is a breath of fresh air. We are always intentional about carving out that time because we want to know the people we work with on a more personal level. We are also responsible for supporting clients in a way that makes their work with us easier.

 We help our clients spend less time worrying and more time focused on what drives success.

But for every client that is organized and interested, there are others who need us to bring organization and excitement to the table. Having to do that doesn't make a client less ideal. Frequently you get the read that people are spread too thin, focused on different aspects of the business and need us to act almost as if we are in-house.

Another perspective is that clients know their business so well that they might miss some nuances or insights that we see because of having fresh eyes on the enterprise. In those cases, we bring the organization and excitement to the table. And in this type of relationship, the ideal client relationship is set up to share knowledge. We share what we know from our experience in what we do with fresh eyes on the business, and the client brings their perspective on being in the weeds of other business channels. A lot of times that's when experience congruence.

Scott: What are some words, phrases, moments, tells, in a kickoff call that make you think to yourself, "Wow, this is going to be an awesome client to work with"?

Megan: A few things come to mind when I think about my favorite clients. First, I love working with clients who function more as partners. Feeling like we're a team, even feeling like we're a part of their business.

At Metric Digital, your account manager's spirit animal is a unicorn.

I also love working with clients who are genuinely curious in what we're doing. And if they do not have a real understanding for the ins and outs of Facebook & AdWords, then they're very curious and want to learn from us. That helps inspire me to go above and beyond for them.

Lastly, I love working with clients with big budgets. Big budgets means lots of testing and an eagerness to scale, which is one of my favorite parts about what we do.

Daniel: One is when clients say, “We have a spreadsheet for product launches, promotions and partnerships.” That’s music to my ears. That means they want to be ahead of the game. Google sheets, specifically. I’m harping on organization again, but it’s necessary. Those type of clients sometimes have less wiggle room for us to make recommendations. And I like when a client asks us to make recommendations that can improve more than what we are doing on digital marketing channels.

One more thing on a kickoff call that makes me say wow is, "We have these goals, but we want your help establishing benchmarks with data behind it.”

Scott: Why do you think testing so critical to growth?

Megan: You have to test in order to figure out what works! And there are so many different ways to structure accounts that it often takes a lot of money.

Daniel: Yeah, that’s why being genuinely curious and interested is such an ideal trait. I don’t think a lot of clients realize just how much we can actually do.

Scott: Do you have any favorite questions/language/tactics to use with clients to express that curiosity?

Daniel: Laying out everything that we can do in a Strategy Roadmap helps to portray curiosity, how much we can do, and how it all makes sense to help achieve their goals. We can test everything, but how it’s structured to give us learnings that drip into the next test matters even more.

Scott: Let's talk about everyone's favorite word in client services: "Expectations." What are your insights on setting them from the start, and managing them throughout the relationship?

Daniel: From a personal workflow perspective, it’s important to set expectations that ensure enough attention can be given to an account without giving less attention to another. So calls, meetings, deliverables are mapped out to dates and times where there is enough space to give proper attention to an account.

Metric Digital is pretty in pink. Now get back to work updating ad copy!

Lots of times things come up that you can’t plan for, as life goes. In those instances setting expectations can be two pronged. We want people to know we are reliable, but also not set an expectation that ad hoc requests are ideal. In those instances, it’s important to reset expectations. To take a step back to our last question and instate some sense of organization.

Scott: What are your thoughts on handling clients' ad hoc requests? Or handling or preventing scope creep in general?

Megan: I think it's super important to set realistic expectations from the start. As for handling ad hoc requests, I think this is one of the trickiest parts of client services. in the beginning stages of working with a new client, I'm always eager to go above and beyond so that they build trust with us. And that often includes having to respond to many what we call "one-off" emails. But that can be a slippery slope that can turn into a norm.

The best thing you can do here to avoid scope creep would be to make sure you communicate that you're going "above and beyond" when you're responding to last minute requests. Also, keep reiterating that it is mutually beneficial to both parties when things are organized and timely.

Scott: How do you help clients/brands understand the nuances of the various marketing platforms?

Megan: Each client has varying levels of interest in knowing exactly what we do. But as long as they're open to learning, I usually just provide as much information as possible. For example, when we're first starting off, we send over exports of AdWords builds and explain exactly how we structure our accounts.

Behind the scenes with one of Metric's Adwords campaigns

Daniel: This has been the biggest learning curve. I can remember when I first started, my manager said bluntly, “You don’t know what you’re talking about”

Scott: Ouch!

Daniel: Of course, I don’t receive that sort of feedback anymore. But to answer your question, the goal is to not go too deep into the weeds of how something works. Because you lose people. And the other goal is to not speak at too high a level.

The perfect balance is to express that you know what you’re talking about by extracting the important details of the channels and touching on the perspective of the client you are talking too. I always start by talking about the goal of what we are focused on in the moment.

Scott: Do clients ever get overwhelmed with the information?

Megan: Definitely! So it's important to gauge how they're reacting. A lot of clients initially say they want a lot of information, and then get overwhelmed, so you have to adjust on the fly.

Scott: Okay, I think it's time for everyone's favorite segment of Metric Masterminds, The Lightning Round!

Daniel: Go for it!

Megan: Bring it on...

Scott: I will throw out a prompt, you must respond "Yea" or "Nay," and a brief explanation if need be.

Suggesting innovative ideas for clients
==> Yeah or Nay?

Daniel: Yea. Gotta keep things fun and progressive.

Megan: All the time. It’s why clients keep hiring us, because we turn curiosity into money.

Using emojis in emails
==> Yeah or Nay?

Daniel: Depends on the brand, depends on the content personally. But why not if it fits? Just don’t go overboard. Not unlike exclamation points.

Megan: I :) emojis. You should read my article about do’s and don’ts.

Immediately trying emerging ad platforms
==> Yeah or Nay?

Daniel: Only if it feels like a strong fit for the brand. B2b, try Quora. Under 22, try Snapchat. In short, yeah. Get it while the inventory is cheap! Or at least test it.

Megan: Yeah, but every client is different. Beware of shiny social object syndrome!

Saying that this will only take five minutes
==> Yeah or Nay?

Daniel: Ha ha, always schedule thirty minutes.

Megan: Oh man, five minutes doesn’t exist!

Friday afternoon meetings
==> Yeah or Nay?

Daniel: In general, nay, but we still tend to have quite a few.

Megan: Not my favorite, but if the client needs us, of course we’ll be there.

Thanks guys!

Scott Ginsberg Head of Content, Metric Digital The Metric Digital Blog A Blog on All Things Digital Marketing