The Howff – 26.3.2015
THE BENEFITS OF CHOOSING REPUTATION BEFORE MONEY
When we celebrated our 3-year anniversary recently, I reflected that our greatest success was client retention. We started with nothing, and by our third birthday we’d worked with 20 different clients across media, politics, campaigns and branding.
They’re a mix of retained clients and project work, so we don’t work with all of them all of the time (we typically work with fewer than 10 at any one time, to maintain our dedicated service). But we’ve never been sacked by a client. That was the idea behind our founding ethos: don’t be ‘that agency’ which sends directors to do a pitch, makes juniors do the work, bags the money and then moves on unabashed when the client dumps you for poor service.
But we have resigned a client – during the first year of our company. Now, we’re not precious about clients taking our advice every time – advisers advise, clients decide. But this client persistently refused to listen and we felt they were an accident waiting to happen. Their reputation, and by extension ours, was about to suffer. So we walked away (and yes, shortly thereafter the accident happened!).
It was a relatively high-paying client, so it was a defining moment for us. Do we chase the money (which would have come in handy so early into a new venture) or do we put our reputation first. I know plenty agencies who’d chase the money. Not for us. Because message matters.