When you sign a new client, you want to make sure they feel welcome….and happy about their decision to work with you. That time after they’ve signed but before the project kickoff is such a valuable window for you and your team.
Do you just leave your new client alone until the kickoff? Or do you have a powerful, efficient system in place today to make the most of that window of time?
If you don’t have a system, you’re not alone. When I’m invited into agencies to streamline their operations, the client intake system is always at the top of my list. It’s absolutely critical to an agency’s revenue — and reputation. And more often than not, it’s being neglected.
Today is your day to change that: commit to creating a surprisingly powerful tool: the New Client Welcome Packet.
Read on to find out exactly how to create a Welcome Packet that creates a great first impression — and ultimately lightens your team’s workload.
What are the basics of a Welcome Packet?
Let’s start with the basics. When I say Welcome Packet, for most agencies I’m talking about a 2- or 3-page PDF that contains important information about the work you’ll do with your client. I recommend creating a master version and customizing it with the client name and project details.
You deliver it to the client immediately after an agreement of work is finalized, but before project work actually begins.
Your Welcome Packet is many things: it’s part welcome wagon, part client roadmap, part FAQ. And while it may sound simple, it’s actually a very exciting tool for engaging your new client and starting your relationship off on the right foot.
If you’re reading this, you probably already understand your clients’ needs. You may even have your own talented creative team in-house. In other words, you’re ready to tackle the first goal of the Welcome Packet:
1. Reinforce your client’s purchase decision
Heard of buyer’s remorse? It’s that nagging doubt that can bubble up after a buying decision, which includes your client’s choice to work with your agency. In your Welcome Packet, you need to squash that remorse before it takes root and replace it with eager anticipation.
Your mission: Remind your client that they’ve made an excellent choice.
How you’ll do it: Refresh your client’s memory about the product or service they purchased and why they chose it. This description should include the end goal that the project will achieve. If you have a great website or sales brochure, you can draw from the benefits-oriented copy there.
Reinforce your brand promises, welcome them to the relationship, and make them feel at ease. You’ll also want to be clear about the next steps so they know what to expect.
In addition to reassuring the client at the beginning of your work together, this section serves a second purpose: it’s a reference for the client throughout the project, preventing confusion. It’s empowering for clients to have the details of the engagement at their fingertips.
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2. Manage expectations
Clients come into the relationship with a lot of unanswered questions. Many of them are around the mechanics of working together: How often will they hear from you? How quickly will they see a new draft? This section of the welcome packet tells them exactly what to expect.
Your mission: Make expectations crystal clear.
How you’ll do it: Include basics like your business hours, typical response times and other FAQs that new clients tend to ask. Then cover the expectations you’ll have for the client: attending scheduled meetings, meeting approval deadlines, and hitting other milestones critical to staying on track.
Tough as it is, now is also the the time to address the potential consequences of not meeting those expectations. Specifically, you’ll want to convey that not meeting them could impact the deadline, the budget, or both.
Feeling hesitant? That’s common. Many agency owners find this part tricky to navigate. It can feel like a “buzzkill” to bring up problems before they occur.
Well, I get it — but I still recommend doing it. And I say this after helping agencies extract themselves from some very sticky situations with unhappy clients.
It’s much easier to deliver your guidelines under the sunny skies of the project kickoff — when routines and relationships are still forming — than it is to explain the rules long after you’re deep into trouble.
You’re right to be cautious, though. Take your time fine-tuning your policies now, with special attention to tone. You can even add a dash of humor here, if it matches your brand. I’ve seen a Welcome Packet with a secret-agent themed “Rules of Engagement” section so engaging that it charmed the agency’s clients completely!
3. Ease your client into new processes
Think about things your new client needs to learn in order to work smoothly with your team. New software? A certain procedure? Your in-house color-coding system for approvals? You don’t want their confusion to slow things down once the work gets underway.
Your mission: Teach them everything they’ll need to work with you.
How you’ll do it: First, map out the phases of the project for your client. Make special note of any parts that are unique to the way your team operates. You can check out this client roadmap infographic for inspiration.
If your new client will have to learn new software, offer them an orientation video (or annotated screenshots) and links to resources. If it’s extra-complex, describe the training session you’ll schedule with them so they know what to expect.
Good work! Here’s what’s next:
Once you’ve got everything drafted, it’s time to actually assemble the Welcome Packet. Keep in mind that you’ll need to customize parts of it for each new client. For the “standard” content, you’ll want to be sure to:
Finalize, organize and proofread your content. Have your team review it for errors or omissions, and make sure to get a cross-section of team members.
Make it as polished as a client project. If you have designers on your team, it’s worth asking them to invest some time. If you don’t, it’s worth bringing on a freelancer for this. You want it to be an extension of your brand identity.
Create a consistent process so that team members know where the master file is located. Make sure that the person responsible for customizing it is comfortable with the software they’ll need to use. You may want to set up a collaboration: the account manager provides the customized copy, and the designer updates the packet.
And there you have it! Follow these steps in this post, and your team can create a client Welcome Packet that can truly enhance your working relationships with new clients.
Welcome Packet Bonuses: Going the Extra Mile
Welcome video: Shoot a quick welcome video that introduces clients to your team: try a whirlwind tour of your office with people waving from desks & introducing themselves. Include a link in the packet.
Printable directory: Create a handy (and beautifully designed) “cheat sheet” of names and numbers. Invite clients to print it out and hang it near their desks for easy access to your team.
Calendar download: Have a project or meeting schedule? Create an electronic download that clients can download and add to their iCal or Google calendar.