Helping your clients in crisis
Helping your clients in crisis

Here in IAPI we believe that you have the creative thinking, talent and agility to get through this with your heads held high. Obviously it’s going to be incredibly tough. It would be very naïve to think otherwise. However, already you’re coming up with solutions, thinking of opportunities, making remote working work and generally being the best that you can be. The trick will be to continue doing so…

With that in mind, check out the following tips on how best to manage your clients during this crisis. They are incredibly practical and easy to follow. They were written by Chris Savage who was part of STW (now WPP) and originally appeared in Mumbrella.

Focus, focus, focus on existing clients
Focus, focus, focus on existing clients

Sounds obvious. Just do it! More than ever before. We need to be terriers on steroids.

Think about your clients and their futures as having three phases:

1. Crisis Management

That’s where we are now. The next 30-60 days (maybe longer – we don’t know, yet): What do we do to evolve fast? How do we slow the decline? How do we maintain as much as possible?

These are the questions clients are asking themselves. We need to be adding value to that. Now.

2. Recovery

As things start to normalise, clients will start ramping marketing again… sharper, strategically.

3. The new reality

Things will not be the same. Our clients will emerge from this with different business models, changed environments, different go-to-market strategies.

Here’s the point. In all interactions with clients, think the Three Phases.

Train all staff immediately around this mindset, tone and focus.

  • How do I add value today to their crisis?
  • What are our ideas and what can we learn about how we can add new and powerful value to their ‘recovery’ phase? What ideas have we been working on these past few weeks that need to ‘pause’ and be part of that Phase Two?
  • What is their ‘new reality’ likely to look like? Keep track of ideas we can develop for that phase.
Key Considerations
Key Considerations

Be their therapist (listen with empathy and care)

Listen to their fears, their stories, their anxieties. Be a strong trusted advisor and friend.

Communicate more regularly

  • We need to know what they’re being told by their bosses.
  • When their bosses say “focus on Blue, nothing else”, we need to know that ASAP so we can focus on Blue too.
  • Our bosses must be talking to their bosses, often.

Play what’s in front of you

  • Do not try to sell work and ideas that are simply no longer relevant for ‘today’ or not a priority given the crisis.
  • Even if you’ve been burning midnight oil on them for weeks. It does not matter.
  • Nothing turns a client off faster than us trying to sell what is now ‘not relevant’ to them.
  • Get very focused on what their drivers and focus are today (not yesterday).
  • Add ideas and value to help them solve those issues – the issues of today!
  • Be proactive in suggesting we evolve, adapt or delay work (to the ‘Recovery’ phase perhaps) that is now just wrong given the market.

Look for work, not budgets

  • Focus on finding things we can solve and opportunities we can leverage, for our clients.
  • Look for the work. Don’t look for budgets.
  • That work might not be the usual services we provide that client.
  • Be very aware of what they need, and how we can provide it.

Get the senior / best talent involved

  • Make sure your very best people are client-engaged. All of them.
  • Now’s the time for the A-team being front and centre with clients.
  • Even if it’s just getting their brains ideating around ideas to help clients move forward.

Be seen as 100% focused on them

  • It is simply not about us. Make it all about them: Our clients.
  • Plan on every key client – and review weekly as a team and with your leader.
  • Shape out a 60 day rolling plan, updated weekly. It’s our plan for each key client.
  • Who engages with whom? How often?
  • Opportunities? Risks?
  • Three phases: Crisis. Recovery. New reality. What work fits where?
  • Their burning issues?
  • What do we need to ideate? What should we take next? When? How?
  • Any warning signs?
  • How do we push through slowness in their approval processes given their remote working?
  • Invoices being paid?
  • New services they need/ we can offer.

Raise your profile

  • Now is the time to drive profile.
  • Send valuable material to clients. For e.g., ‘five top tips’.
  • Spread the insights through social media.
  • Have virtual ‘events’. Lunch and learns for clients focused on how to adapt to this crisis.
  • Drive the PR harder than ever before.
  • This is not about us, but about ideas and insights of real value to our clients right now.

Drive the pipe

  • Review your pipeline list. Prioritise what’s going ‘on hold’, and what’s still live and needs to be won.
  • Include all prospects on your ‘profile’ plan hit-list.
  • Send them your materials. Invite them to your ‘virtual’ events. Add value. Be visible. Be energising.
  • Ideate what they most need to navigate the ‘Crisis’ phase.
  • Send them ideas. Pitch them via Zoom.
  • Send your tips to every single client you have worked on for the past three years, but no longer do. Even those who fired you. Raise your profile.
  • Sharpen your pitching, so the way you sell ideas to existing, former or new clients is sharper than ever.
  • Perfect how you position the business. Be energising and give hope.