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Remarkable relationships

With the DBA’s focus on ‘Small Giants’ this year, I’ve been up and down the country hosting events, helping members recognise and develop the seven ‘Small Giant characteristics’ that Bo Burlingham identifies in his book, so that your business can flourish in ways other than its size. The next Small Giants discussion event is in Brighton on 10 July.

Most recently I was in Leeds and it was refreshing to hear Elmwood’s founder Jonathan Sands declare that ‘Life’s too short’, when talking about making the decision to end two particular client relationships in the past. The crux of the reasoning being that there was fundamentally ‘just no bond’. 

Jonathan’s comment cropped up in a discussion around Trust and just how implicit it is to fruitful client-agency relationships. We were exploring how Small Giants forge relationships that aren’t just ‘solid’, they strive for great relationships with their clients; strong and trusting ones. Ian Thompson, Owner and Creative Director of Thompson Brand Partners, has a firm belief that despite the client-agency relationship naturally being a buyer-seller one, trust can be developed even to an unconditional level, and he talked about how much work you can gain when your client trusts you. You can listen to what Ian and Jonathan had to say on the subject here:

thinkIn the recently launched 2018 What Clients Think Report, based on 500 client interviews, when it came to questions slanted around relationships, 89% of clients said that they ‘look forward to meetings’ with their design agency and 93% of clients believe that the ‘personal chemistry’ with the people at their agency is either ‘good’ or ‘very good’. In a world of deadlines, squeezed budgets and increasing pressure, as an industry you most definitely make a positive mark.

If you haven’t already looked at the What Clients Think report developed by Up to the Light in association with the DBA, make sure you do – it’s stuffed full of valuable insights to help you enhance your interactions and relationships with clients. Take a look here.  

It’s worth remembering that despite best efforts, we are all still human and mistakes do get made. Something the What Clients Think Report highlighted was that clients have long memories for mistakes, so we asked Shan Preddy, DBA Expert and Partner at Preddy&Co and author of How to Run a Successful Design Business what steps should be taken to manage any mistakes and minimize the long term impact of these, to maintain thriving relationships. Her valuable advice can be read here. 

9-1024x512Shan is also delivering a Client Relationships Skills workshop for the DBA next week, on how to turn ad hoc accounts into long-term fruitful relationships. All places on the workshop have now sold out, but if you would like to register your interest for the next running of the course please email or visit our Events & Training Calendar for other forthcoming dates. 

Trust isn’t simply important to your client relationships. Small Giants also build great relationships with their suppliers too, reaping long-term benefits as a result; this is evident in the case of Sail Creative’s alternative approach to design practice (read more on their story here) and for Cornish agency, Absolute Design.

Absolute Design's work for Killerton Kitchen
Absolute Design’s work for Killerton Kitchen

Absolute was struggling and on a gradual slide to a hand-to-mouth existence. Owner, Helen Stephens recognised the need for external help and turned to the DBA who were able to point her to one of the DBA Experts, Ralph Ardill. Read how her agency was transformed as a result, increasing its monthly, retained income five-fold. 

At the DBA we realise that bringing someone into your business for an external perspective can be a difficult decision to make. That is why we make it as easy as possible by reference checking and accrediting all the consultants on the DBA Experts Register. So you can be confident that they can hit the ground running in supporting your bid to be a Small Giant.

Full details can be found in the DBA Experts Register, but if you have any questions or need further guidance, feel free to drop me a line on or call 020 7251 9229.  

Image credit: 

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash



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