As a content agency it is important that we are in partnership with brands. It’s vital that we are not just seen as a faceless vendor, or a freelancer on steroids who simply knocks out copy. It is important not because we have big egos and want recognition, but because strong partnerships create better results.
We are a strategic part of a brand’s communications strategy. As such, we need to be embedded with clients in the same foxhole. There needs to be a sense of comradeship, not distance.
Funnily enough, sometimes you can sense whether that tight bond will develop in the very first meeting.
Oiling the Hinges
I was having a beer recently with colleagues and we were talking about first meetings. We laughed about meetings we had been to where we are never offered a glass of water. The client team might have flasks in front of them while we, unfortunately, sit gasping through the meeting as our lips crack.
We need to be embedded with clients in the same foxhole. There needs to be a sense of comradeship, not distance.
At the end of that project we look at how our relationship with such a client has developed, and there is a sense of distance that leads to less effective content.
Contrast it to meetings where we’re offered a cup of coffee or tea, asked if the air-conditioning is too cold, etc — and there’s a definite correlation between being offered a glass of something and a strong relationship that is collaborative and positive.
Strong Bonds Start with Small Gestures
It comes back to that point that brands who see us as simply filling their content platforms tend to also be the ones that are less collaborative from the start. The relationships that work are the ones where a company genuinely values Novus Asia as a proactive partner. They realise we know what we are doing and can take their content forward, and what it takes to make that journey together.
Clients who get that concept naturally seem to treat you more warmly from the get-go. They invest their time in making us better — by putting us in touch with the right executive, or offering us useful data. Or, in that first meeting, simply by making sure we’re not dehydrated.
It might seem quirky, but it is a rule that seems to hold true. For the price of a glass of water you can start a really strong, beneficial long-lasting relationship.