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Jumpstarting the agency/client relationship: Q&A with Lisa Anderson

By: Camille Sanzi

New and prospective clients often wonder what an agency’s onboarding routine is all about and how it differs from others. At LSB we make initial introductions and then as a team we enter what we call the Jumpstart process. It’s the beginning of a great agency/client relationship.

To give you some insight into the way we do things, I sat down with Lisa Anderson, our VP and Director of Account Planning.

What’s the purpose of the Jumpstart?

The Jumpstart encourages clients to think about their problems differently, and to speak freely and candidly. To get the conversation flowing, we facilitate interactive exercises so clients see their brand with fresh eyes and develop empathy for their consumer.

This is how the Jumpstart triggers a shift in focus. Clients walk in thinking about their product or service and leave thinking more deeply about their consumer.

We can always focus on something specific later, but first we must widen the lens and observe the entire landscape. The exercises provide clarity and a vision for which direction to aim, which is necessary to solidify the core of a brand.

What is a Jumpstart day?

The Jumpstart day is our first step of strategic planning, and its purpose is to define and prioritize the brand and product targets.

In the workshop, we organize and gather insights and perspectives from multiple points of view within your organization. It’s essential to dig deep into consumers, competitors and the dynamics of the category to build a brand positioning and strategy that’s both resonant and distinct.

The Jumpstart is designed to discover new opportunities for clients and expand on opportunities for their brand. Ideally, we discover a new target that they hadn’t leveraged yet.

It’s a great opportunity for us to roll up our sleeves together, which builds focus, trust and alignment right from the beginning.

Are all Jumpstarts the same?

No Jumpstart day is identical because client challenges and needs differ. To adapt, we approach each Jumpstart with the specific issues in mind that we’re aiming to solve, and identify any gaps in understanding that will require further research.

Although we enter each session with a discussion guide and a plan for how we think it might go, it rarely goes according to plan, which is a good thing. The energy of the day is in the spontaneity of the responses that lead us to explore exciting thought pathways.

For example, during one session, a client had been focusing on a young male target. Through the course of the exercises, a new target, millennial moms, was revealed to be perhaps an even better target and a greater opportunity.

When a Jumpstart goes well, we all walk away having learned some surprising nuggets, or we solidify a hypothesis. Verifications mean we’re all on the same page and have legitimate areas to focus on for potential brand story threads.

What do clients expect?

Sometimes clients are skeptical when we show up with our giant sticky notes and markers, but once they open up and get talking, they leave excited and consider the time pursuing clarity well spent.

Rather than ask point-blank and get a recited answer, our questions inspire creativity and tug at the imagination, which expands the brain and urges clients to express thoughtful ideas.

Often, we enter conversations that haven’t happened with these specific participants, or discussions that haven’t happened at all. The following debates and questioning unearth challenges or unshared ideas that need to be covered. Once we work through them, we’re all better off.

When does the Jumpstart day happen?

We prefer to conduct the Jumpstart day near the beginning of our agency/client relationship. To build a successful brand, we all must be on the same page as early as possible.

The Jumpstart day ensures we start in the same place, with the same understanding, and aligns us so we don’t form the usual agency/client relationship. We work together as a team going forward.

Initially, it may seem like it adds needless steps up front, but it prevents back-pedaling down the road in a way that wastes time and money.

Is this worth my CEO’s time? Who should attend?

We view each person in an organization as a touchpoint of a brand, which is why it’s essential to listen to and learn the diverse views and opinions of a variety of people. In an ideal workshop, a representative from each department within an organization will attend the Jumpstart day.

When people provide input, they’re more invested in the outcome of our work, better aligned behind the strategy and better able to activate the brand in their work.

Clients are occasionally hesitant to invite their key stakeholders to the session because they question if it’s worth several hours of their time. The thing is, it’s vitally important to have representation from anyone who will make decisions on behalf of the brand so their voice is heard and they’re aligned with the team from the beginning.

What comes next?

After we wrap up the Jumpstart day, we get to work to organize and synthesize the information we gathered. We build and deliver a summation of what we heard consisting of themes we heard and we play the key themes back to you.

Then we explain how we’ll move forward, and ensure we heard you right.

Our deliverables are what we use to move forward, so we make sure they’re accurate and complete.

How is the LSB process different?

While most ad agencies participate in some sort of initial introduction process, our Jumpstart workshop specifically provides clarity and discovers unlocked potential and emotion.

LSB has a unique understanding of behavioral economics and emotional and psychological drivers, which helps us listen differently and gives us the capability to pull functional information to higher level insights that can be applied across all points of activation.

Emotions drive people, so we must understand emotions to influence them.

Camille Sanzi

PR ASSISTANT ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE

Camille joined the LSB PR team after a stint as marketing coordinator at the University of Michigan's Center for Campus Involvement. She currently works on PR for clients like EatStreet and Briggs & Stratton. When she's not traveling, in summer she's up north on the lakes and in winter curled up on the couch watching the Blackhawks.

Read more from Camille Sanzi

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