Week 176 – On Client-Relationships

A metaphor for how we like to work with our clients

It’s been some time since I’ve reflected on our work with one of our favorite clients: 3A Composites. We’ve now been working with this company for over 1.5 years, so it feels like a good time to take stock. I can’t go too deep into details of their goals and our strategy for non-disclosure reasons, so let me put this into a metaphor.

Instead of doing individual projects, I like to think that we take our clients on journeys. And this is the prototypical example of it. The client gave us a broad goal that defined a rough destination (“We want to see America”). As strategy consultants, our job is “figuring out the best way to get from here to there” as our friend Mike Arauz put it. So we planed a nice journey that would take them to their destination. Good, solid planning work. But here’s where it gets interesting.

A journey to the future

The client is the business leader of its market. They also want to remain the innovation leader and so they want to explore a destination that nobody has been to before: the future. And you know how it is with the future when you want to put it on a map and plan a journey to it: lots of ‘Here be dragons‘ areas.

We constantly check in with other explorers to hear about their observations of those unknown territories. Therefor we have a more detailed idea about what might await us there. But it wouldn’t feel right to just give our client a journey plan and some guidelines how to best behave once they’ve crossed the border to the unknown. No, when our client wants to (boldly) go where no-one has gone before, there’s only one thing for us to do: shoulder our Mission Workshop backpacks and join our client on the journey.1

Joining the journey

Lets forget about bloomy metaphors about the future as the destination for a moment. The reason to join our client on this journey is of cause that it is impossible to define the “best way” at the beginning of the journey. This is essential when the landscape is shifting perpetually like it does in the digital world. Another reason is that goals not only might but will always change when you’re on the journey. We want to be there with our clients when that happens. We even want to be able to anticipate the changes before they occur and have alternative routes ready when our client needs them.

The best part about this is the reward we feel from seeing how the journey evolves, where we were right and where we were wrong and, to finally jump the shark with this metaphor, how the journey changes the traveler.

On a journey with our client 3A Composites

Ok, to sum up: It’s been a great time with Alucobond so far. Here are a few milestones of this journey so far:

  • We set up one of the first tumblrs by a b2b-company.
  • We learned that you can reach 520,000 impressions in a niched target-group with just 800€ worth of Facebook ads.
  • We are about to launch a beautiful Ipad magazine, designed and implemented by our friends at MoreSleep.

But the best reward is a happy client who seems to enjoy the journey. For us, this client-relationship has become a role model for how we prefer to do this. And it already rubs off on new client-relationships.

  1. That’s right. We think of ourselves as the Gandalf to our client’s Frodo. Deal with it. 

Author: Johannes

Johannes is a strategist and consultant for digital communications. His work is informed by his experience of working with brands like Deutsche Telekom, MTV, Postbank, Maggi and Nike and by his insatiable appetite for finding the bigger patterns behind current developments in technology and science. Holding a diploma in Media System Design, Johannes is a regular speaker at web and marketing conferences like Republica and the Social Media Summit.