New York is a miserable place during the winter. This year, we rarely saw days warmer than 20 degrees and don’t even get me started on the snow and my daily commutes in from Brooklyn. As such, many have found a solution to this problem: Miami! Last weekend, my boyfriend and I jetted to the land of beaches and palm trees for some fun in the sun.
We aim to take one vacation a year, mainly to switch up our routine. Instead of watching Law & Order SVU all day, we laid by the pool or beach and treated ourselves to dinners at fancy restaurants we wouldn’t do on a typical Friday night. Client relationships, similar to personal ones, work best when both parties are contributing. They can grow stale just like personal relationships for similar reasons — time away from each other, too much time with each other, lack of excitement, etc.
And since you can’t exactly shame your client into couple’s therapy, here are a few ways to stay on top of relationships in life and love:
FaceTime. Skype dates aren’t nearly as fun as candle-lit dinners and hand-shakes are substantially better than faxes, but between distance and busy schedules, quality FT can be hard to find. As such it’s important to prioritize this. In-person meetings are easily the best way to keep a relationship fresh. By bringing together both sides of the team in-person, everyone is able to feed off one another’s energy better, as well as read their facial expressions. This leads to better results – whether it’s coming up with creative ideas for next quarter’s marketing plan, or keeping the spark alive after 5 years of marriage.
New Experiences. In relationships, trying something new allows you to connect on a different level. For instance, going bowling on a Saturday night instead of staying in and watching a movie. If the client relationship seems to be getting stale, switch it up! For our clients this might mean that instead of riding the news, we’ll brainstorm proactive story lines or recommend a byline topic for an influential trade publication. While you shouldn’t constantly be in refresh mode (all good programs should have a solid strategic foundation), these new experiences take planning, so make idea creation an integral part of your work (or relationship) flow. A story in a new publication, or an angle previously not explored can reinvigorate a media program.
Skip the email. While a simple email is often the most convenient form of communication, it takes away much of the connectivity and leaves room for ambiguity, like misreading the tone of an email. Phone conversations, while slightly old school, demonstrate tone accurately and can be a great way to deliver news or acquire information. In certain circumstances, a phone call can last two minutes, as opposed to 15 emails back and forth, which wastes not only your time but your client’s as well. Of course, bothering clients with constant phone calls is the easiest way to get back into a stale relationship, so proceed with caution and mix things up as needed. For instance, delivering news of a problematic article is best discussed over a phone call than email.
Relationship maintenance is never easy, but staying in front of the client with new ideas, either physically or digitally, will keep things moving forward. Remember that clients are people too and effort on both sides is needed to keep everyone pleased, ultimately giving way for a successful and long lasting relationship.