At GroundFloor Media, we often have team members work in house with clients to support crisis situations, provide interim solutions between new hires or to help cover maternity leaves. Sometimes it is just one day per week and other times it has been three plus days per week. I’ve had the opportunity to work in house for several clients over the years and what I like about being in house is not only learning about the products and services at a deeper level, but celebrating success on both sides. In addition, I believe it makes our agency team more aware and empathetic as to how to navigate the internal challenges our client contacts face everyday.
Here are a few key tips to share:
• Experience the product or service first hand. When you are in house you have an opportunity to attend a variety of meetings, including regular staff meeting, department and manager meetings and/or trainings and workshops. Attend every meeting you can to learn more about products or services and operational processes. This valuable information will help the agency team to really hit the ground running during brainstorms with new strategies for product introductions and how to differentiate services that link to larger business objectives.
• Get to know the experts. There is no substitute for firsthand information. Ask as many questions as possible about what keeps an expert or executive up at night, what he/she is most proud of, how the product/service is solving problems, what would success look like for a communications program, and what’s next for the company/brand.
• Build relationships at all levels. Every person has a story and a connection at an organization – from the front desk to the C-suite. Use this valuable time to network, learn about work styles and how to move projects along faster.
• Embrace Your Inner Ambassador. You will get to play a vital role by managing communications between the agency and the client. If a project has slowed down due to internal processes on the client side it is helpful to be able to translate this to the agency side and help come up with solutions to move things forward.
• Be okay with being a pseudo team member. Some clients embrace agency contractors as team members and others do not. Learn to play nice in the sandbox then go out for lunch or coffee with your agency team members to reset as needed.
• Don’t underestimate internal challenges. You may assume the CEO ultimately has the final say in a project or at least the VP of marketing but that might not be the case. It could be someone in government affairs or a development director. Find out who owns the budgets, or the reporting dotted line, so you can determine how projects need to be pitched and reviewed. Then adjust timelines accordingly.
If you’ve been in house with a client please share more tips! After all, being in house is a huge opportunity to expand the team and build long-term client relationships. And that’s good business.