Technology is great when it works. A bug in the system did it’s best to interrupt our Digital & Creative Online Meetup. But as they say, the show must go on. 

We overcame the technical glitch to hear a Q&A with Inside Stories founder, Gareth Dimelow, who focussed on “Getting your client to work with you”. 

Gareth used his 20 year agency experience to share his challenges, what questions you can use to ensure a lasting clients relationship, the innovative approach Inside Stories are adopting and more.


Gareth Dimelow Q&A

What is the main challenge when getting your client to work WITH you?

My background is in global agency networks for 20 years across three agencies. It didn’t matter which part of the broader marketing eco-system I worked in, there was always one consistent. There is always something adversary in the relationship between the agency and client if it’s not managed correctly. There’s a lack of understanding where a client is coming from.

When people don’t understand something, they get frustrated. You often find a relationship between an agency and client can become fractious if there is no mutual understanding.

In my role as copywriter was to understand message, narrative and language. I could detect a pain point with the client when they were trying to say something but couldn’t quite articulate it.

I used to spend more time working with the client take a step back from the briefing process and working out exactly what it was they were trying to do.

In bigger projects at the larger agencies I worked with, we were part of a wider team of agencies. There was automatically a territorial competition. Your job as an agency is one thing only: to help your client grow their business or get their next promotion. My role has always been to think how to communicate effectively, not only to market, but to the agencies they’re dealing with internally.

What can people do with new clients at the outset to put key principles in place?

One of the most important things is establishing a shared language and understanding.

One incident in my career stands out with that highlights the importance of clarifying the importance of messaging. We were working with digital agency in Australia to deliver a website for wine brand in UK.

There’d been tension as we hadn’t selected agency it had been allocated. It started to become difficult as they weren’t getting what we wanted. Our Project Lead wasn’t articulating want they wanted. She said it became far too complicated.

The agency said they had to go back to square one. They said they didn’t know there had to create a membership profile.

In the initial brief said ‘login’. That was interpreted as simply going onto the site. For new digital that now means actually logging onto a website. The misunderstanding came from a difference in definition.

We have to test the understanding of the world we’re operating in together. A brief is not a written document. The brief is a physical conversation between people. It’s about establishing a shared understanding. It’s two way between the agency and the client. Taking the opportunity to shape the understanding, vision, ambition, budget etc. All the information you can supplement onto it.

It’s all about telling a story. How can people on this meetup help their own clients?

We all need to get better at listening. Your expertise needs to be challenged. Don’t wear it as a badge of honour. The client needs to be heard and understood. We spend a lot of time to find innovative ways of questioning.

Every marketing journey for a client is a continuum. There are ongoing opportunities for you deliver your best work throughout. Found your place within that journey.

One thing we encounter when a client has been miss sold is where the end product becomes the purpose of the relationship. If you enter the conversation thinking about everything you can charge them for, you’re doing it wrong. The client needs to be heard and understood to build an empathetic relationship.

What are the right questions to ask?

Firstly, the idea of something being fundamentally unique in 2020 just doesn’t work.

Try to find an emotional selling point. Start to think about the emotional relationship with your consumer. Spending some time thinking about the emotions you want to trigger in the people you’re looking to reach is so important.

Sometimes you need to give them permission to speak in emotional terms. They can wear business language like a suit of armour. Business is personal. If you make them step out of their formal business language and communicate person-to-person, they’ll start to give themselves permission to have more emotional conversations about the relationship they want to establish with the customer. 

Let’s talk about it in networking terms. Someone who uses 5 seconds of dead air to launch into their sales pitch. That’s old school marketing. A more effective way of working is going in and listening. Not needing to be the first one to speak. Think: what can I learn from these people? What questions can I ask that consider what they’ve said?

Invite your client into the process itself so they can see where the ideas come from. The stimulating points. They want to their DNA in the end product whatever it is you make for them.  

What is the Inside Stories apporach? What impact are you trying to have?

What we’re trying to do is to service what we see is an unmet need. To manage the relationship between client and agency. Due to ineffective conversations and knowledge at the beginning, the clients become exhausted.

If the briefing process isn’t effective the work is not what they wanted or envisaged. Then the agency has to start again, which incurs a cost, and the client is unhappy. That doesn’t lead to long term work.

Our role is not to be in competition with established agencies, it was to supplement what they do in a way that didn’t tread on their toes. But to get the client ready to work with them. To ensure every penny is money well spent. A well-articulated brief. Vision. Mission. Purpose. Something that business owners often struggle with.

Our role is to work directly with the client to help them figure out: where they’re going. How they plan to get there What happens if they’re looking to get new investment. Bring onboard new team members. New products, brands, services. How do they ensure the new streams they pursue are consistent with their purpose and agenda.

The storytelling act underpins all of those things.