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How to retain your clients

In today's episode, we're going super practical. We are talking client retention. How do you retain your clients? This is a question that I get quite often because I always talk about that first piece of the puzzle. How do you get the clients and most people overlook the power of like, well actually, the best way to build a business is to then retain those clients. So I'll be talking my best tips on how to keep your clients happy and make sure that they want to keep coming back.

Read on for the full transcription or listen to the podcast episode here

Okay, so client retention, like I said in the intro, this is a part of business that is often overlooked. But the thing is, it's so much easier to retain clients than it is to go fishing for new clients right?

I'm gonna go down a rabbit hole here, trying to create an analogy but if we stick with the fishing analogy, all the effort and the uncertainty to go out and fish and actually land one decent fish, because you go out there and the fish are flapping around and, some of them are cheeky, and they grab onto the line (I’ve never been fishing, just FYI, you're probably going to be very aware of that. If you listen to this, and you are an avid fisher) but yeah, the fish tried to grab on the line, and maybe some of them do, but then they fall off or maybe you do get one in the end, but it's actually a pretty rotten fish. Maybe it's already a corpse so that's fine and you think how would it hang on to the line? Anyway, you get my point there's no certainty with fishing. But if you caught a fish, and you decided not to eat it, because you're vegan, and you care about environmentalism, but you decide to keep that fish as a pet, which might also have ethical implications, but you get the point. You keep that fish, and all of a sudden, you've now got this fish, and as long as you feed it and water it and keep it happy. And I don't know whether you play with fish, because I've never had a pet fish but you know, as long as you keep it happy, you can. You can keep this fish, alive and happy and you don't have to go out fishing for another fish. Does that make sense? I should probably talk about VR, rather than fishing, shouldn't I? Okay, let's get back on track.

So with your clients, what I'm saying is once you've got a client, and it's obviously important that you enjoy this client, and you're passionate about the work, or you know, you enjoy the work that you're doing for that client. But if you've got someone where actually you get on, and they're a good client, they're not like a total headache, you don't have a heart attack, every time you see their name pop up on your phone, you're actually excited to hear from them, you're excited to do work for them. As long as that is the kind of client you've got maybe instead of spending loads of time looking for new clients, maybe look at how you can best serve that client, could you offer them more services? Could you expand the scope of your current projects with them? Could you have them on a retainer? Could you know, up the level of work you're doing? Could you ask them, if they have any additional things that you could work on with them, there's so many things that you could do once you build that relationship and that rapport with the client.

I think when it comes to retention, especially when you are a 360 and VR professional, there's definitely a few things that you really need to kind of pay attention to because I mean, the number one thing is obviously going to be deliver a great service, deliver value, make sure that you are an absolute delight to work with, your shit hot at your job and you deliver on the goods. That's obviously number one way to retain your client but outside of that, when you're a 360 and VR professional, you've got all of these other challenges that you kind of need to think about. Because the thing is, most clients, when they first start dipping their toes into the water, careful, we might end up on a fishing analogy again here…when they dip their toes into the water, and VR and 360 they're not sure of the outcome, they are taking a chance on this new medium, because you've told them that it's going to be a value and they trust you and they are intrigued enough and willing to take a chance on this. So one of the ways that you can retain more clients and and build a really long fruitful relationship is to make sure that you support them throughout the distribution of that project. This is especially important if you are delivering a VR product. Because the nature of VR technology itself means that there are lots of challenges as soon as you hand off that project and it's in the clients hands (or headset should I say) there is a whole host of new challenges that client face to roll out that experience. So it's all well and good that you deliver an incredible VR training product and you know you show it to them in a headset. You're there in the meeting, you show it to them, they're excited, they're wowed. This is perfect. This is exactly what we wanted. But the second that you leave that building and they are left with that headset, do you know for a fact that they have their distribution strategy set out? Do they know how they're going to implement it in their training sessions? Is the person leading the training? Or is the person responsible for distributing the VR? Has that person been trained? Have you had one on one time with that person to teach them how to use the headset? This is so basic, but it is literally the equivalent of having a Grandma trying to work a smartphone, no shade to the grandmas out there but you're probably going to need a bit of hands on time teaching them the technology before they can get on WhatsApp.

So what I'm saying is, when you go into creating a 360 and VR project, you have to have in mind where that piece is going to go? If it's a 360 piece, for example, if it's 360 photos, if you deliver those 360 photos, does that client know what to do with them? If they are trying to embed them on their website, for example? Do they know how to do that? Or should you be doing that? Should that be a service that you include? Should that be something you up-sell them on? Is that something that you should include in a package? And is that something that you would consider walking them through?

Do you have a follow up strategy, this is another big tip. So not only do you make sure that they know what they're doing with that product when you've delivered it, but making sure that you're going to follow up with them and support them if they need it. So for example, with a client of mine, we have an app that hosts quite a lot of different VR experiences for them. We give them the headsets and then we have a six month kind of routine that we follow, which is our support package, basically. And what that is, is once we deliver the experience, so we deliver the app on three headsets per client site, we will then have a half day intensive training session with anyone that they think needs to be trained on the VR headsets. Usually they call them, you know, something along the lines of like the VR champion, or is sometimes the head of training, or whoever it might be, that is responsible for implementing that. We have a half day hands on training session, where we go through everything, the basics of VR, getting them comfortable with the headset, teaching them what the buttons are, just silly things that when you're in VR, and you're in 360, you don't really think about these things, because you've been doing it yourself for so long. For example, with 360, you showed someone a 360 video on your phone and how you, you know, you turn it landscape and then you can move around with your phone and that that blows people's minds. I've seen so many 360 YouTube videos where the first 10 comments are just - “well, this was just an image of a floor the whole time” and it's because they were holding their phone parallel to the ground and they didn't realise that it was 360 and that they needed to move their phone around in order to see what was happening. That's how basic some of this stuff is but we forget that, that is not common knowledge to most people. So make sure that they know what to do, like a hands on training session and then a couple of weeks later, you will follow up to make sure that they have now started to implement it. So if it's for a particular event, if it's being used at an exhibition, if it's being used in training, I will follow up with them personally and be like - “just want to check in, make sure you've not had any problems and let me know if they do need some more training“. After the two week to one month mark, that's when we will do some kind of recap training. Usually this will be done remotely or maybe we'll send them some screen captures or just little video demos or even some clients like a kind of a written manual just so that they can print it out and leave it with the kit so that if anyone has trouble, they don't need an internet connection to be able to see how to fix it. So you know, speak with your client, work out what's going to work best, work out what a support package might look like for them and if you are delivering something that's a little bit more one off and a little bit less technical, technically difficult to integrate into a company for example, a virtual tour or some 360 photos or a one off 360 video for social media, those things are a little bit easier because obviously because you can just leave them a video. But even so, you still want to make sure that you're following up with your client. If your client said that they're going to use these 360 photos to upload to Google business listings to promote their SEO and get them listed higher, make a note to follow up with them in two weeks, check it out yourself, go online and check whether they've done it. If they've not done it, maybe nudge them follow up? Is everything okay? Are you finding anything difficult? Oftentimes, they'll just be like - “oh, we just haven't got around to it yet” but make sure you keep on them. Because unless they implement it properly, they can't get the results. If they can't get the results, they won't be coming back to you for more work, the only way that they will keep coming back to you again and again, is if they are seeing a benefit to that product.

If so, again, like real estate is a brilliant example for this, because virtual tours are quite commonplace. Now, in real estate, the reason that there is such an appetite for that, and we're starting to see that open up in the world of virtual locations for our galleries and things that during COVID, this digital digitised remote way of seeing a physical location. And the reason we're seeing that is because that is quite commonplace, it's quite easy for them to embed that on the website, there's loads of software's that make that super easy, there is this natural workflow, but not every business will be aware of that and it's your job to make sure that your client is getting the most from your products and services. Because if they're not going to recommission a VR project, if they're not going to spend some more money on some 360 photos with you, I would argue that is equally your fault. Because if you've not made sure that they're not implementing it properly, it's not going to give them the best chance at seeing the results and unless they see some kind of benefit, whether that be doesn't have to necessarily be financial, it could be more traffic to their websites, they're getting more engaged, people reach out, they're getting positive feedback or some kind of positive result from your work. Unless that's happening, then it's absolutely ludicrous to expect them to want to spend more money on something because to them, it's just a waste of money, but it's not really a waste of money. It's just that they didn't implement the thing properly. And the thing is, again, this is applicable across any sector, across any creative skill set. I remember when I was still working in traditional filmmaking, and the amount of times that we would create a really slick, beautiful animation that would go would be, you know, part of an advertising campaign that would be used across social media. And the agency would commission it, and then they would just kind of like, you know, they just put it out on Facebook or something like that. And they wouldn’t put the strategy around it, they wouldn't treat it, they probably would do now because obviously social media is taking a lot more seriously than it was back then but they would treat it as this little nice thing to have when actually, if I mean, I wasn't in a position to do this back then because it wasn't my job but you know, if that was me, now I would be making sure. Okay, so this is the video, this the animation we're creating for you and this is what you want to use it for so let's have a strategy around how you're going to use it. Do we have an ad strategy in place? Do you know who the audience is for this? Who are we targeting with this? What do we want the outcome to be? Do we want more shares? Do we want something that drives traffic to the website? What are we trying to achieve with this? Let's make sure that we put all of that in place, the scaffolding around the house, so to say, so to speak and to make sure that when we do launch it, it actually has a shot at achieving what it's supposed to achieve. Does that make sense? I hope that makes sense because this is so important and it's something especially creatives really overlook because they see their job as - oh, I just show up and I do my job like, I just show up and I make a sexy little video, I just show up and I make shit look good. That’s all well and good and I'm not saying that you won't retain clients by doing that because actually, if you've got a client that will take it upon themselves, that will be proactive, and would already make sure that the scaffolding is in place and then you might find that you will get retained clients but I promise you that you will get way more attention asking these questions first. You will be considered an asset, an invaluable asset to this company, if you take the initiative, if you make sure that you are following up with them and making sure you're supporting them through integration, if you're following up and making sure they're getting the results that they want, and if they don't get the results that they want, have that conversation of why? Why do you think that was? Were we going after the wrong audience? Was it integrated properly? And was it just something that actually, the creative choice just wasn't maybe right for that particular audience? Or that particular time? Did we miss a beat on something? Have that conversation with them and be open to that conversation. Don't just deliver the product, and then let them do whatever they want with it to never return. If something doesn't work, have a conversation, jump on the phone, dissect that. Let's figure out why you think that might be? It might turn out turns out that they didn't realise they had to do something, I don't know, metadata or tick a certain box, when you upload it to YouTube or they didn’t tell YouTube it was a 360 video, so it just uploaded as a panoramic video so it looked shit.

If you really dissect it, your client will actually be quite impressed because not many people do this and not only will they be impressed, but they'll also feel the support, they'll feel like you're working through a problem and that is your job as a business owner, as someone who works for themselves. You are a problem solver. Whether you're a creative or not, that is your job, you are solving problems with your creative services and products.

So I'm going to get off my high horse now but I hope that this helps for those of you who are still trying to get your first client, maybe even consider some of these things when you're going into those first conversations.

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