In late January, we were awarded a contract for SEO, Adwords and digital marketinginitiatives that immediately place this new engagement in the top three on our client roster in terms of volume. This is an especially big deal for us because we were bidding against some major players in our industry – many of whom dwarf our operation in terms of resources and annual revenue. In fact, of the eight proposals that the client gathered, only one was from a firm smaller than MoxieMen Inc. Price-wise, from what we gather the total value of our proposal was about average compared to that of the other firms.
At around the same time, we were also informed by another potential client that our outstanding proposal had not been selected and that they had gone in a different direction. Instead of working with us, they chose to go with a much larger agency and they too had gathered several proposals.
You win some, you lose some.
A Tale of Two Proposals
There are many similarities between the two situations. Both companies in question are roughly the same size in terms of gross sales ($3-5m), both operate ecommerce sites and both needed help in the same areas of digital marketing.
Both were also coming off of recent bad experiences with their previous service providers, which unfortunately is something we are encountering more and more of these days.
While it’d certainly be nice, it’s usually not realistic to expect to learn why we were not chosen. But upon acceptance of our (at the time) most recent proposal, one thing was made clear: our new client is expecting the superior level of service and priority that being at the top of the client roster should afford.
This is especially true considering the poor experience they’re trying to leave behind.
There is a lot of inherent value that comes with being an agency’s highest paying client.
It’d be nice if we lived in a world where all clients and customers are created equal. But unfortunately, that’s not realistic or practical. In many cases, the untimely departure of a key client can mean layoffs, or even worse, the closure of the firm. In fact, it applies to virtually all types of commerce, not just the consulting industry. Credit card companies offer their most profitable cardholders all sorts of perks such as airline miles and points systems that can be used on everything from groceries to vacation getaways.
Retailers like Best Buy and Starbucks have rewards programs designed to keep people buying in their stores as opposed to their competitors. And those are just a couple of the hundreds of obvious examples of blatant favoritism toward high-volume customers and clients. There are more subtle examples too. Bartenders and waitstaff are always much more likely to provide premium service to the most generous tippers. Amusement parks often sell ‘VIP’ tickets at a premium price to those who don’t want to wait in line. The list goes on and on.
While most agencies have a diverse enough client roster that the loss of a single client won’t devastate their bottom line, every firm has at least one or two engagements that would leave a significant hole to be filled should they leave. And the truth of the matter is those clients are going to receive a higher level of service and support than those that represent a smaller percentage of their book of business.
So the question is this: Would you rather be someone’s highest paying client? Or just another cog in the machine?