Yearly Account Development Plans
I’m working with a lot of creative agency account managers at the moment and they are developing their client development plans for the coming year.
Ending a year is a great time to look back at what went well and what challenges you had with a view to identifying which accounts you will focus on growing the coming year.
Growing existing account is cheaper and easier than pursuing new business so taking the time to step back and assess the agency’s accounts is worthwhile.
If your clients have shared their strategic plans for the year then this will enable you to identify where the agency can add the most value and how much resource is required.
Criteria for account growth
Despite the agency wanting to grow it’s not always appropriate to spend time and effort growing all the clients you have in the agency.
It’s really important to have a criteria when you’re selecting which account you should be growing.
One criteria you can use is the “four Ps” approach:
1. Is it Profitable?
If the account is not making any money for the agency then it’s not the kind of account that you want to grow bigger. So the first step is, is it profitable?
If the account has been negotiated based on an unprofitable hourly rate and you cannot raise the rate (often the beginning of the year is a very good time to put up your rates so if you’ve overlooked the potential to do this don’t forget to review your rates annually!), again this may not be the account you want to grow.
2. Does it have Potential to grow?
Does it have potential to grow? Now hopefully your client would’ve shared their brand plans for the following year, and in which case you’ll understand how fast their business is accelerating and how much opportunity there is to work together next year. So does it have the potential to grow?
As well as asking for a client’s brand plans, you can do your own desk research on the company to see how fast their market is growing and any information the company has published publicly about their growth plans e.g. on their website, their report and accounts, in the press etc.
3. Do they have a Problem you can fix?
The third P is do they have a challenge you can fix easily? i.e. does it fit within your core skillset? Is it your expertise area? Can you easily solve this client’s communication problem?
The more narrowly focussed the agency is in its positioning, the more power they have in the sale, the less vulnerable they are to competitors. Those agencies who claim to be able to do everything often are not perceived by the client as an expert and therefore are commoditised.
If you can demonstrate a wealth of expertise and experience in a specific field you are well placed to deliver an excellent service for the client with minimal friction and delay.
4. Is the account a Perfect fit?
The fourth P is, is it just a perfect fit? Have you been working with them for a while? Have you done some great work? Are you culturally aligned? Do they love working with you? Have they referred other people to you? Is there more opportunities to work together where it’s just an ‘easy’ relationship?
Unfortunately it’s not always great working with some clients for a multitude of reasons. So if there is natural chemistry and cultural alignment and you enjoy working with them things are easier and you can look forward to being energised and enthused about working with them.
So those are the four Ps for criteria for selecting which accounts you’re going to grow. Is it a profitable account? Does it have potential to grow? Does the client have a problem that we can easily fix and is it just the perfect fit?
What do you look for in an account that has the potential to grow? Please share your thoughts below.