What Does Success Look Like to Your Clients?

In the age of ones and zeros, there is a dizzying amount of metrics available to marketing communications professionals. In the martini-ed ‘Mad Men’ days, gobs of money were spent on ad buys, public relations and other tactics with only an educated gut feeling for how they impact sales.

No more. Today, everything can be tracked – website hits (how long a page is viewed, returning visitors, unique visitors), how many people actually read your e-newsletter (and what links they visit from it), the reach of your social media posts and how they drive new likes/followers and so much more.

This is just a sampling of the metrics – in addition to sales – that help determine the success (or failure) of a marketing program. Everyone uses (or should use) metrics to demonstrate to a client, a boss or a sponsor how their decision is paying off – the return on investment as well as a return on the objective (equally important).

But what happens when that is not enough?

At a kick-off meeting, all heads are nodding in agreement when metrics are established. Yet some time later the client is telling you, ‘…we’ve decided to go in another direction…’ or ‘…we’re just not getting what we need…’ Leading to a parting of the ways.

Marketing communications – in whatever form it takes (ad buys, collateral material, special events, sponsorship, PR, etc., etc.) – is a relationship business. Metrics are a cold comfort to a client who doesn’t value the relationship with a mar/comm professional or agency. And, woe to you mar/comm professionals who don’t cultivate relationships well with your clients, for you too will be out in the cold.

How can this be? Logic says that, when you are given a goal and you meet/exceed or flat-out blow away that goal, everyone should be happy. Right?


Client relationships are as complicated as any intrapersonal relationship known to humankind. Do you communicate with the client too much? Not enough? Are you giving the client the information they value? What do they value? Are you interacting with them on social media – where the relationship can cross professional boundaries and enter the personal (Do you really want the client seeing pictures of your dog dressed up for Halloween)?

Were you expecting answers at this point in my cyber-screed? I hope not. You’re getting any from me – a mar/comm pro with nearly 20 years in the business (and by the business I mean…the industry). I don’t have the answers. Every day, every interaction with clients seems to be a new experience.

My unsolicited advice: Have a strategy for your client(s), stick to it and then work your tail off to win each day, each meeting or conference call, every email and client interaction. Then live to win the next day and the next.

That’s what success looks like today.