Today marks my two year Jellyversary and throughout the past 730 days we’ve gone through our fair share of strategies surrounding client attraction and retention. I remember walking into my first day at Jelly and being introduced to an impressive roster of 50+ clients, with 5 more to onboard in the coming week. It was overwhelming to say the least but with no agency experience behind me, I thought this was a usual practice for a small but mighty team of 10. Little did I know that within the following year, implementing a philosophy around the art of simply saying “no” to some good work gave us the capacity to produce some really great work instead.
Good vs. Great
Just as we look to hire great people for Team Jelly, we do the same with the brands that we bring on board. It’s easy to think that when we say we only work with great brands, it means that they’re big names that everyone has heard of or have large budgets. At Jelly, that’s far from the case.
- Great humans – it may seem simple, but as anyone who works in the service industry can tell you, unfortunately, it’s not always the case. We look to work with companies that see value in hiring great people with similar values as our team. Our ideal client is not just a client to us, instead, they’re welcomed into the Jelly family as a valuable member of our team. The brands that we hope to work with are lead by people who believe in partnership and have a desire to grow our relationship over time.
- Believers in digital – while we love to teach our clients about the wonderful world of digital, it’s always beneficial to have a new client with a basic understanding of the benefits of digital marketing. Having this initial buy-in allows us to begin to work on more advanced strategies from the start of a campaign, rather than coaching our clients in the first few months of our partnership.
- Excited and passionate people – as you can imagine, it’s much more satisfying to work with people who are just as passionate about promoting their brand as we are. More often than not, we find that these people are more likely to allow us to use our creative minds to come up with out of the box campaigns that will get people talking about their brand.
- Marketing minds – we love working with brands that see value in having a designated marketing team or person with a passion for digital to work alongside us. Having one go-to person who is dedicated to ensuring that all areas of marketing are taken care of are often readily available and committed to allowing our campaigns to keep moving at a great pace rather being held up in the dreaded approval stage.
Chasing the Dollar
It’s common in agency life to simply chase the dollar. There was a time in Jelly’s history when we said no to any retainer under $5000 per month. Again, at the time it seemed like it was a great practice to move forward with, but in the end, it ended up hurting us. You can read all about it in one of our previous posts here.
Chasing the dollar is dangerous in the world of marketing (and arguably in most areas in life, too). We’ve been tempted by having a large brand’s name plastered on our website on more than one occasion, but our experience has shown us that chasing brands for vanity alone has never served us well. We’ve found that small to medium sized brands with more modest budgets are highly organized, excited, and eager to work alongside our team to create great results and love receiving the experience of our boutique agency. As our relationship grows, their budgets often do, too, creating a balance that works for both parties.
While chasing the dollar, it’s also easy to take on work that you’re not an expert in. Over the years, I’ve watched our team take on projects that we’re not experts in: branding and web design. With experience and maturity, we realized what we needed to focus our efforts on what we know we’re really good at, rather than spread our efforts thin causing the rest of our work to suffer.
Quality over Quantity
Since decreasing the quantity and increasing the quality (and therefore, greatness factor) of our client list we’ve seen a huge increase in our results for clients. Our social media team is able to execute in depth strategies unlike anything we’ve done in the past. Our PR team is able to dive deeper into our client’s stories, pitch them with multiple angles and produce solid earned media on a much more regular basis. Our digital ad and SEO team is the strongest it has ever been and together we’re able to integrate our efforts like never before. All of this allows our Account Managers, to articulate our team’s fantastic results and nurture relationships with our clients on a much more personal level than ever before, leading to increased client morale and retention.
The art of saying no – it’s still not easy for us to practice and it’s a struggle each and every day. I’ll never forget the first time I sent an email to Darian saying “This is a bad idea, and here are the 8 reasons why we should not bring this client on board…” I sat in front of my computer, reading the bullet points over and over again and hovering my mouse over the send button. It felt wrong. Why would we ever choose to pass up business and bringing on a new client?! It may sound silly to some but it works for us and over time, we’ve learned to listen to our gut. If it doesn’t feel like a great fit, it probably isn’t.