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January 24, 2013
Client Relationships Take Effort and Time
After spending more than 15 years on the agency side, I have experienced all types of client relationships. Some, for whatever reason, never developed the way I had hoped.
But others, and the ones I remember and like to mirror, were extremely rewarding. They are partnerships built on a foundation of respect and collaboration, many of which have flourished into lasting relationships…or maybe I should even call them friendships. 

To ensure that client/agency relationships are set up for success, it is critical to have an open dialogue and ongoing reviews to determine:
  • Is each side fulfilling the role that was promised?
  • Are all parties delivering value to one another?
  • Does each party understand and support the other?
In my current position at DKI, I am exposed to relationships at all stages. Some are brand new and develop on a weekly basis. Others have been in place for over a decade. 

As relationship management experts, our marketing goal is always to build and strengthen relationships with our healthcare targets: patients, caregivers and HCPs. As a new year is upon us, and we are making New Year’s resolutions, I wanted to highlight the most critical tenants in building and maintaining healthy client relationships. 

1. Respect. This is a two way street. It may take time for an agency partner to earn the respect of its clients, but the opportunity needs to be there. Motivation is derived from having a goal and taking steps towards it. 

2. Trust. The brand’s best interest should be the primary focus for all – not someone’s ego or career on either side of the business. The ultimate goal is meaningful education and support for the healthcare community. 

3. Cooperation. It takes a team – often multidisciplinary in nature, to develop meaningful marketing. No single person will have all the answers. Only a team working in lock-step will reach the point of collaboration where impactful marketing is developed. 

4. Transparency. We all need to cut to the chase and be specific about our requests. If something was done to create dissatisfaction, speak up so it doesn’t happen again, and when something is done well, celebrate. 
If you don’t ask, you don’t know. In my organization, I am proud of our annual client satisfaction survey where we give clients the opportunity to share the good, the bad, and even the ugly with us. In our 2012 results, I noticed one dramatic outlier. Interestingly enough, our organization didn’t have a developed relationship with this particular client. I decided to approach this client and, luckily enough, he was gracious enough to take a meeting. It turned out that this client had mixed up my agency with another agency with a three-letter name. Luckily for me, their evaluations were based on their experience with another agency. 

At DKI, we take the same diligence and pride in establishing relationships with patients/caregivers and HCPs that we do our clients. The result is long-lasting relationships that deliver value beyond the expected for client and agency.

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Greg Lewis joined DKI in 2010 and brings to DKI 14 years of experience at three large agencies. He has a keen understanding of the fundamentals needed to drive brand growth in today’s marketplace and has led multiple cross-functional marketing campaigns, including all on- and off-line professional promotion, medical education, and DTC efforts. Greg lives in Summit, NJ with his wife Lauren and his two children.
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