Quality vs. Price Triumvirate Model
Monica Morelos, former General Manager of River Orchid Vietnam talks to us about the realities and benefits of evolving “From Transaction to Relationship: Converting short-term customers into long-term clients” in Vietnam and offers her own interpretations of an industry practice on the issue of quality/value vs. price.
In a more low-key and personal affair last 20th of March, the client management class met with Monica Morelos, a client service expert with over 13 years of experience in applying marketing communications as business-building solutions across several industries in Asia. Her visit marked the 2nd industry seminar for the course this semester.
From how to choose clients carefully to how to make it easy for clients to work with you her advice kept the room silent and attentive with just the frantic (or was it manic?) scribbling sounds of pen to paper and finger taps to iPad’s as students hung on to her every word.
Vietnam in particular she notes is quite known for clients who shop around for new agencies every time a creative requirement is needed. Partly owing to strict company policies of asking for three quotations/ cost bidding per project, most transactions end after just one project, a one-off instead of a long-term retainer relationship as clients seek out the most cost effective option for them.
The first practical tip in getting retainer accounts according to Monica is to seek those who would potentially have an ongoing need for your services and the budget to support it. And even if at the onset these clients do start out as short-term, good client managers should have the mindset to aim for long-term. Part of this mindset, is passion for the work; making a good impression; and constantly learning about your client’s business and how to help them develop it.
There are many academic journals, business articles and books that we can use to help educate ourselves on how to become professional client managers and maintaining long-term relationships with clients. But have we ever considered that maybe one way to maintain retainers is to educate the clients?
This suggestion was met with both surprise and curiosity by the students. And in what could be deemed as the most memorable part of the guest lecture was Monica’s presentation, of what I suggest should be termed as… The Quality vs. Price Triumvirate Model. A very practical guide every client manager should consider in educating clients and curbing expectations in a time and budget challenged environment such as that existing in Vietnam.
This model, was a result of her musings with her husband (who is also involved in advertising client servicing), experience with countless negotiations and re-negotiations with clients, and from reading tips in advertising magazines. Humbly, she shares that she claims no copyright over it and is just happy to share her own interpretation of how it works.
Simply put, clients should be made aware that they cannot have it all! Expecting agency to deliver a creative quality idea + in a quick time frame + costs cheap… is not possible. Something has got to give. Realistically, client managers need to make their clients choose two from the triumvirate. Monica funnily shares that she has had to print-out this model and show it to her clients whenever they start to make unworkable demands on her creative team.
By the end of the session, students were abuzz with questions including the sensitive topic of kick-backs and commissions as a device to maintain relationships which unfortunately is too juicy to share on record and online. This means, dear students you need to come to the next seminars to fully enjoy the tales from this exciting world of client management in Vietnam.
ABOUT: Monica Morelos was instrumental in securing the Imperial Tobacco account on retainer (from 2006 to present) for River Orchid Vietnam. She was also influential in winning the Green Cross Hand Sanitizer business, and being a key player in shaping the business strategies of the brand (from 2008 to 2010). Hired primarily to head River Orchid’s Client Service team she became General Manager in May 2010 and played a central role in the streamlining of processes across departments (Client Service, Creative, Activation, Public Relations, and Finance) and the overall growth of the agency. Currently she is on sabbatical and does freelance training for client servicing and maybe contacted directly through: firstname.lastname@example.org