Communicating Value To Clients

Many times, I’ve heard media planners at interactive agencies lament the difficulties they have in communicating the value of their Internet campaigns to clients.

Sometimes it’s very difficult to explain Internet marketing as it relates to a client’s objectives, especially if a client is new to the business. Planners have a tough enough time keeping on top of it themselves. And it becomes even tougher when you have to bring someone else up to speed as well.

Have you seen the movie “Contact”? Remember the scene in which Jodie Foster’s character explains why the message received from space was mathematical in nature? “Mathematics,” she said, “is the only true universal language.” Maybe the reason why it is often tough to communicate value to clients is that we’re not using the right language. In my experience, some clients are technology savvy and others are not. But they all understand the following concepts.

  • Budgets — Whether they’re being spent efficiently or inefficiently, how much they’ve spent and how much they’ve got left.
  • Goals — Where they are in relation to these goals, where they’ve been, where they’re going and whether they have a shot at meeting those goals.
  • Organizational issues — How they’re contributing to the success of their business by managing the client/agency relationship.

Given that any client contact you’re working with will understand the above, the key in explaining your Internet efforts is to concentrate on these three concepts. At K2, for example, we provide weekly reports to clients that explain the campaign’s performance, both on a weekly and on a cumulative basis. Performance spreadsheets are attached so that clients can see the actual data behind the campaign, but what is truly important is the analysis that goes into each performance report. Planners can find compelling stories in the data within the framework of the three concepts above.

Clearly spelled out in each report are the performance vs. campaign goals, updates on where we are vs. business goals, and effective cost (what has been spent so far). Each vehicle on the buy is also evaluated with regard to its contribution to the campaign and to the business goals. We demonstrate how these buys are getting the client closer to where s/he needs to be, both in terms of budget and goals. This takes care of the information the client needs in order to report to his or her superiors.

The third concept is a little tougher to address. It is always best to help the client to be a “hero” at his organization by constantly suggesting new marketing and media ideas, and improving the efficiency of your campaign.

At this point, I must call on another movie analogy to demonstrate the agency’s contribution to the client’s business. Think of yourself as “Q” to your client’s James Bond. If you remember correctly, Q was the mad scientist who sent Agent 007 into his next big mission with the latest in technology and tools. You want to be evaluating new tools and concepts constantly, so they can be given to the clients, bringing them closer to their business goals.

Remember that when you want to demonstrate value to a client, you have to speak in terms s/he can understand. In this sense, your job is similar to that of a journalist. All good journalists have a way of distilling data into impactful information by asking the question, “What does all of this stuff mean to people?”

If you are able to put yourself into your client’s shoes and remember what’s important to him or her, you will be able to show the value of your agency’s contribution to the relationship.

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