Ridgeway’s Simon Cole, explains why there’s much more to the ideal client than their bank balance.
The web is crowded with articles on ‘finding the right digital agency’ but little thought is given to ‘finding the right digital client’. It’s a short-sighted approach given that business is all about building relationships. At a recent peer and partner event, Ridgeway’s Managing Director took part in an exercise with likeminded digital professionals to get to the bottom of the question.
The event was hosted by ConnectMinds and brought together key players from Kentico partner agencies to answer the seemingly simple question of what makes an ideal client? They used a structured brainstorming method called the KJ Technique to tackle the question which can be broken-down into five steps as Simon explains:
Thinking “Armed with a pen and a handful of Post-it Notes we were asked to write down the qualities we thought made a good client. We worked alone and had chance for individual reflection”
Sharing “Next we regrouped and randomly covered the wall with the Post-it Notes”
Grouping “Then the real fun began as we worked together to cluster attributes we believed belonged in the same grouping. Post-it Notes flew back-and-forth as people contradicted each other, and changed their minds, but we soon came to a consensus”
Naming “Once we had agreed on groupings, we were then asked to write a title for each group that encapsulated its core concept”
Voting “The final step was for individual participants to vote on the relative importance of each concept so that we could infer overall group conclusions. Each person was given a number of dots to vote on the concepts that mattered the most, with three dots indicating the greatest importance and one dot the least”.
“It’s a really straightforward technique that produced some thought-provoking results” continues Simon “and the findings sparked a lot of very animated discussions”.
What’s really interesting is that digital agencies place much more value on the willingness of clients to build partnerships than on the willingness for clients to spend, as shown below:
Top 5 client qualities from an agency perspective:
Partnership Client recognises the value of the working relationship and takes a balanced approach
Engagement Client wants to be involved and has a willingness to listen
Clarity Client has a clear idea of what they want with realistic expectations and strong communication
Vision Client has goals and aspirations which they are willing to share with the agency
Investment Client has an understanding that time costs money and a willingness to spend
The fact that Investment is at the bottom of the table might initially be surprising, but KJ-Method findings are often used to draw waterfall cause and effect diagrams (technically known as affinity diagrams) which make it easier to unpick the findings.
Thinking from a cause and effect perspective it becomes clear why digital agencies put such weight on Partnership, Engagement and Clarity; because if you get them right the Investment will follow.
Simon sums up the day “Of course there’s much more to business than the bottom line and the KJ Technique helps provide focus. We use similar techniques for establishing priorities and consensus across the business and often during client workshops. They are a great way to quickly get results and today’s findings give clients insight into what really makes a digital agency tick”.