Is Your Agency a Vendor or an Advisor?
In the scramble for business, many agencies forget that their specialty positions them to serve as an experienced advisor. Instead, like a small-time vendor fearing the competition, the agency’s marketing materials may inadvertently reflect the attitude of a common client begging for a contract in a lean market. Its writers may be trying too hard to please, rather than connecting from a position of knowledge with the customer to make sure they understand the purpose and expectations of each assignment. Yet clarification, especially when it comes to website content services, trumpets an agency’s expertise better than almost anything else can.
One of the key roles of an advisor is to help the client understand what they’re asking for more clearly. The more vague the job request, the more necessary the clarification. When agencies understand the client’s expectations fully, they can assign the right professional content writers to projects and instruct them accurately.
In my off hours I lead a nonprofit environmental group. Last week a leader from the local chapter of an international group approached me with a particular method for running meetings. I wasn’t sure exactly why he was telling me this, so I started asking questions. This resulted in a followup email and phone call while he tried to figure out, from my probing, what it was he really wanted to do and what he wanted from me. By the end of it, he was treating me like an advisor.
If I had just been eager to please, I might have nodded that first time and agreed with whatever he’d said, and that would be it. Instead, we agreed to cosponsor a gathering of local nonprofits, using his meeting methods, to brainstorm new ways of ameliorating climate change. Although I had never worked with him before, he and his partners now see me as a key leader and advisor in the environmental movement here. And all I did (beyond leading my own group) was ask for clarification.
You can do the same with your agency. By asking for clarification from new clients or prospects so you can assign the right writer expertise to their projects, you will automatically begin to establish your agency as a leader in the field—an advisor agency, not just another vendor.
Susette H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.