8 Tips To Grow Your Client Relationships

As an agency, you’ve found a new client. You’ve established a solid relationship with them. It looks like they’re going to stay. Now, you want to get more of their business — after all, it’s easier to sell additional services to current clients than to get work from new clients.

To find out how other agencies are successfully expanding their services with existing customers, we interviewed 12 agency leaders, who offered these eight strategies.

Expansion Tips for Current Clients

1. Understand Your Clients and Their Categories Inside and Out

In order to win more business from your clients, show that you know their business and their industry to prove you’re a good partner they can rely on. “Have a thorough understanding of complete marketing operation so you both know the role you’re playing to support the entirety of the efforts, but also to gain intelligence to other channels that you could out-perform,” Jason Kenyon, a director of business strategy and development at Goodway Group, advised.

“Deepen your agency’s knowledge of client needs,” said James Arnold, the chief digital officer at Rooster. “Allow digital, creative, media, public relations, etc., to know where the client is struggling. Then, bring unique and targeted opportunities to the clients. Use your many tools to uncover areas where you can help.”

“Once you have one piece of the business, do a thorough audit of all other aspects that could result in more revenue,” suggested Rachel Pakzadeh, a Goodway senior director of client experience. “After, align those aspects with the strengths and weaknesses of your agency. Go after the strength opportunities — ask for the ability to pitch or run a test.”

Soft Selling Instead of Upselling

Approaching your client with these opportunities can be considered more of a soft sell than a straight upsell. “Often, we see ‘soft selling’ work the best,” Kristin Dick, the COO of Tuff Growth Marketing, explained. “Instead of training our growth marketers and account managers to be salespeople looking for upsell opportunities, we’ve trained them on how to fully understand our clients’ businesses and how they operate. When you intimately understand how a business drives revenue and what challenges they’re navigating in the way of growth, it’s much more effective to upsell specific solutions.”

Daniel Myers, a partner, account and media director at Three Sixty Group, echoed these sentiments. “I wouldn’t call it upselling, but more educating,” he explained. “More times than not, your client doesn’t know what they really need — that is our job as the agency. This could mean showing them a new idea or telling them about cool new media tactics they might not be aware of. The latter is one that always helps grow a paid media buy which always helps with cash flow.”

“We’ve found opportunities to offer complementary services that boost the client’s current marketing efforts,” said Ryan Doser, the vice president of inbound marketing at Empathy First Media. “For example, we provide SEO services to several clients and discovered that offering an additional ‘digital PR package’ is a win-win. Digital PR is one of the best strategies to get high-quality backlinks.”

2. Focus on Overarching Business Objectives Instead of Media Metrics

“When pursuing account growth, I prioritize achieving overarching business objectives rather than solely focusing on media goals,” Katie Gresl, a senior director of client experience at Goodway, said. “This can be done through thorough research of the specific brand or advertiser to understand their target audience, media consumption habits, and digital landscape. This will inform our campaign setup and performance metrics, which will tie back to a measurement model that highlights what success looks like to that specific brand or advertiser.”

Katie explained that this approach may involve introducing a new channel to engage the audience differently and effectively while delivering the right message at the right moment. “We can then move away from media objectives (KPIs) and showcase success that ties back to the overall business objectives,” she stated.

3. Know Your Strengths and Complement Them If Needed

Besides specializing in particular verticals, it’s also important to identify your strengths, refine them and execute them as best as possible. “Our philosophy has always been to pick a few tactics and do them well, leaving room to grow in a new client relationship,” Amy Hall, the president of The Barber Shop Marketing, said.

“If we go for the whole pie and fail at something small, we fail at something big by losing trust. We want to be the trusted resource that they come to for advice; if we don’t do the service, we know someone that does,” she continued.

Outside Partnerships Can Make All the Difference

“Certainly, we want to grow into new areas and innovate, but sometimes if there’s a need to get it right the first time, it might be worthwhile to bring in a partner that really can do it well,” Dave Miglin, the chief growth officer and vice president of media and digital services at Strategic America, advised.

“We have also been partnering with other agencies to win business instead of competing,” Amy said. “We all have our core competencies, and pulling in a subject matter expert has been very effective.”

For example, if a client approaches you with a desire to try influencer marketing or advertise on a retail media network (RMN), but you don’t have that expertise in-house, you could consider working with an outside organization, such as a media execution and analytics partner, to deliver this service to your client.

Building partnerships can help you increase your capabilities and complement your existing capabilities — while you stay true to your own expertise and round out your services out with the additional expertise of your partner. You also may be able to access opportunities you weren’t able to before, like betas and alphas with leading tech providers and platforms.

4. Put Data in the Driver’s Seat

Another great way to expand services with existing clients? Leverage data to its fullest.

“So much of what we do is data-driven, so the more opportunities where we can share our data-driven approach, whether from a media strategy or an analytics evaluation, we find there is interest in connecting those dots, and often there are other people within an organization who would like a similar approach brought to what they are deploying,” Jennifer Nugent, the group connections director at VML, advised.

“The more connectivity you have between and among your disciplines, the more you can illustrate the full service of what you can bring to the table,” she continued. “And if a client isn’t ready for all of it, the more they can understand how that integration exists and can be of benefit to them, the greater the likelihood they will want to consider your other disciplines in the future.”

“Data is your one source of truth,” Dave added. “Data will help you be impartial in making recommendations, whether it’s to grow into a new territory, expand service lines or introduce a new product that didn’t exist today. So, we really use data in multiple ways to help our clients grow their business. And as long as we show that we’re good partners in growing their business, they usually turn to us often for other opportunities.”

5. Host Webinars and Exclusive Events for Clients

To build rapport with your clients, consider running webinars for them. “Hosting webinars is an effective way to reinforce the services you offer, retain clients, and show the expertise you bring to the table,” said Rachael Zanni, an events & promotions manager at Goodway Group. “Continuous education is very important!”

But don’t just stop there. “Consider hosting exclusive events tailored specifically to your clients, such as VIP dinners or industry roundtables and events,” Rachael suggested. This is yet another way of showing your clients how much you value them and building that client/agency relationship.

6. Run Organic Growth Workshops and Use “Magic Wand” Conversations

Rachel Pakzadeh advised that agencies consider running organic growth workshops with clients. During these workshops, she outlines her client’s service offerings and customer base to identify opportunities for change, growth and expansion with their own end customers.

Another strategy Rachel uses is having what she calls “magic wand” conversations. During various points of the year, she’ll bring her client team together and say, “Imagine that you have a magic wand. So, budget, time, resources, none of these are blockers. If you had that magic wand, what would you do to deliver business results to your client? What would you recommend?”

“And it’s just fascinating that there are no limitations,” Rachel explained. “All of a sudden, the innovations start flowing.” Rachel uses these conversations to create road maps for their future partnership. “Sometimes you get your clients so excited about what you brainstormed and what came out of the magic wand conversation that they actually sign off on it, and you’ve got your upsell right there,” she said.

7. Talk to Your Clients’ Sales Teams

Just as you need internal alignment between your sales and marketing teams to ensure the profitability of your agency and grow your business, aligning with your clients’ sales teams can be equally important. After all, if your team is helping drive marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) or marketing-qualified accounts (MQAs) for your client, but their sales team isn’t bought into or following up the potential new business you’re bringing, it will be hard to quantify (and prove) how your agency is helping your client move the needle.

Talking with your clients’ sales teams also helps you better understand their end customers and what the buying processes are for each customer. Sales is talking to clients and prospects every day on the front lines; they usually have a great pulse on what matters to potential buyers and the biggest challenges they’re facing.

That’s why Dave and his team at Strategic America actively work to meet with the sales teams and not just the marketing teams of their clients. “It’s important that our clients think of us as an extension of their team,” he explained. “When you actually go out with a sales rep, you hear a lot more about what’s really happening in the industry. You get to understand what’s working, what’s not and where their frustrations are.

“Fundamentally, it’s a relationship business,” he continued. “And the more you can appreciate the world they live in and genuinely show that you’re interested, not just faking it, the more your client will want to work with you.”

By doing so, Dave said, he and his Strategic America colleagues demonstrate that they care about their clients’ businesses as if they were their own. Their clients can see that Strategic America is investing time and resources to better understand the target markets so that ultimately, Strategic America can bring better results to their clients.

With this type of relationship solidified, expansion opportunities can fall naturally into your lap — and you’ll easily identify other services, solutions or capabilities you can pitch to your existing clients that align well with their customers and their buyer’s journeys.

8. Have Managed Service Partner(s) for Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs)

Building your own internal programmatic media practice can give your agency an advantage — and offer opportunities to sell additional services to clients. For instance, if you’re a traditional agency, you can deliver digital offerings via programmatic advertising and take advantage of the cross-channel reach, measurement and other benefits the DSP(s) have to offer.

But you may not qualify for a seat at a leading DSP. Or even if you’re already using a DSP, it’s possible outside help will be needed to get the most out of it. Many agencies are understaffed, with employees wearing multiple hats beyond programmatic traders, so having a managed service partner on-hand can be crucial for success.

“The tradeoff of where to build internally versus partner is often an ongoing and non-linear journey for agencies,” said Mike Wolk, the vice president of growth and partnerships at Goodway Group. “We have found that even the most advanced agencies can benefit from a strategic managed service partner, whether through bespoke market intelligence, additional platform access (self- or managed service), analytics, leading fraud detection or supply path optimization (SPO) practices, or even skilled buyers to support activation in certain platforms, channels or higher-touch accounts.

“Understanding that agencies often need a full continuum of service — including self-service — we have worked hard to lower the barriers to leading industry technology, even for self-service,” Mike continued. “This is why we co-launched ‘The Partner Program’ with The Trade Desk, making their platform more accessible to agencies of all sizes with flexible minimums, hands on-training and ongoing support to set up our partners for success.”

Unlocking Growth: The Path to Client Expansion

Expanding your service offerings with existing clients is a surefire way to foster growth and deepen relationships. By truly understanding your clients’ businesses, focusing on their overarching business objectives, leveraging data insights, hosting educational events, and aligning with their sales teams, agencies can uncover new opportunities and cement themselves as invaluable partners.

Additionally, partnering with experts in areas outside your core competencies can complement your strengths and unlock new avenues for success. Embracing these strategies will not only drive revenue growth but also solidify your agency’s reputation as a trusted and innovative ally.

To learn more about how Goodway can help you grow your existing client relationships, get in touch.

Michelle Philippon headshot

Michelle Philippon is a content marketing manager at Goodway Group. A creative and results-driven marketer with a record for producing captivating content, Michelle loves working with Goodway’s internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to provide useful insights to help agencies power their marketing campaigns to achieve meaningful outcomes. Michelle has over 10 years of experience writing for both business and consumer audiences and previously worked at a B2B marketing agency. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio, where she enjoys reading, hiking through Cleveland’s many metroparks, making jewelry from sea glass and drinking way too much coffee.