The Richards Group – A Teachable Moment
No, I am not going to comment on Stan Richard’s big mistake that had The Richards Group, the leading Dallas agency, quickly lose major accounts including Motel 6, Keurig Dr. Pepper, HEB, Motel 6, The Salvation Army, and The Home Depot. These are huge account losses that could destroy virtually any agency – in weeks.
But, What About Your Agency?
I was interviewed this week by ADWEEK’s Doug Zanger for my take on what the future might hold for The Richards Group. Specifically, what could they do to hold on to existing accounts and if and how they could find and land new business. I suggested that job #1 is for the agency to work hard to maintain the accounts they still have. Here is my quote:
What it might take to get back in the game
According to agency business development consultant Peter Levitan, the first step is to look inward.
“A part of business development that many agencies don’t understand or spend time and energy working on is growing existing accounts,” said Levitan. “In the case of The Richards Group, they have to save as many accounts as they can, and be totally upfront in dealing with the problem. There are sharks in the waters circling the accounts, so the pressure is on holding what remains.”
Your Agency – The Learning
I counsel my advertising and digital agency clients that the single best, and most efficient source of new business, read that as incremental profits, comes from existing client relationships. Why? Well, you already have the client in-house; you are well beyond the initial cost of pitching; you know their business; objectives, and opportunities inside and out; and, I assume that they love you.
Also, note that account retention is critical. In our land of doing specific projects vs. long-term agency of record relationships, it is imperative to be a client’s ideas and tech go-to leader. Keep the client’s marketing moving forward. Happy clients stay put.
This is clearly logical. However, I need to point out two recurring agency fails. One is complacency. You have the account, think that it will stay put and leadership moves their focus to landing that new account.
The other fail is the universal issue of not training agency account management. When I started in the business, I was trained in how to run accounts, how to communicate with clients, how to build long-term relationships, how to think of new ideas, how to present those ideas (and sell them)… Sadly, too many 2020 agencies do not stop to train their account managers. Believe me, the cost of losing an account is much higher than a few hours of training.
Back To The Richard’s Group
As I stated in ADWEEK, The Richard’s Group should, today, have a total focus on retaining the remaining clients. A well-trained account services team and involved media and creative departments should be having the right business-growth conversations and be perceived as brand builders. Agency staff will need to reinforce the reasons the client works with the agency in the first place and be looking future-forward. Client’s can be like lemmings willing to join others and jump off the cliff. While the team focuses on the future, agency management should allay any client concerns. Proactivity is critical. Split up the duties.
OK, one more …. the agency has to make sure that everyone is on message. “We are all sorry about what Stan Richards said and it does not reflect our agency culture”… and, on. Get on the same page and get on with business as usual.