Okay, full disclosure…I’ve been working in digital marketing for a long time. And there is one thing that I have discovered is a common practice of other agencies. It’s expecting the client to spoon feed you what they want you to do. This has never made any sense to me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have worked with really, really intelligent clients through the years. They are without question experts in their fields. But why on earth would these intelligent people have hired me if they had all the answers? If they could do what I do themselves?

If I had a dime for every time a new client has told me “Wow, this is nothing like working with my old agency! They expected me to tell them what to do.” The story I’ve been told by clients goes mostly like this:

  1. Client chooses a digital marketing company to redesign their website.
  2. First meeting is set up and the new company comes in and asks “Okay, so what do you want in your website?”

Seems to make sense, right? Wrong.

I like to think of it like this: the client is the subject-matter expert in their business. I am the subject-matter expert in understanding how to get people to do things online. You need to bring both these sets of expertise to the table to get the best results. And that is what your client is paying you to do.

“An agency’s job is to understand the client’s problem space and provide recommendations for how to make things better.”

Discovery meetings with Ike run a lot differently. Sometimes we don’t even talk about what the redesigned website is going to do. Really our first, and most important, job when working with a client is to dig deep to understand how they do business. What role does the website play in the the sales funnel? What are the business problems that the new site is going to fix? Who are your best customers? What wastes your time and/or money? What today is actually working well?

Once you truly understand your client’s business problems, then you can help them uncover solutions. An agency’s job is to understand the client’s problem space and provide recommendations for how to make things better.

And this holds true for new clients and existing long-term clients. The better you know your client the better equipped you will be to provide effective strategies and ideas that help them grow their business, and make them look like heroes in the eyes of their company.

Don’t be so precious about your ideas. Share your ideas freely with your clients. (And by freely I’m mean specifically ‘for free.’) You never know when a random thought thrown out in conversation will become your next big project.

An agency should be an idea-generating, idea-sharing partner. If you are not doing that for your clients I guarantee you are making them do the thinking they are paying you to do. That’s not cool.

Like what we’re saying? Read more of Ike’s Rules of Client Service.