How to respond to clients being a cloud agency?

by Aline Rossin
Aug 30th, 2021 » 3min (homeoffice) (futureofwork)

Almost a year ago we told our collaborators that they could live anywhere in the world because from that moment on we would be a cloud agency. An agency with no fixed address.

The announcement was quite remarkable for all of us, with some moving to other cities and accomplishing dreams that had been kept in a drawer until then, and others being a little afraid of so much freedom. As time went by, the fear of some decreased, others increased, and more people arrived from various other locations in Brazil and the world, making our team more regionally diverse.

But the way I want to point out to in this text is for those who hire us: our clients. How can we serve them without having a fixed location and continue to have a relationship of high quality and proximity with them?

Advertising has always been marked by agencies with panoramic elevators, fancy and giant meeting rooms to receive clients with coffee, cookies, and treats. ℓiⱴε, specifically, was never that place. Along our almost 16 years of history we have had headquarters in Porto Alegre, some in São Paulo, but none that followed this pattern.

This is because we have always believed that what really matters are the people who are in the place and not the place itself. After all, what makes a house a home are the people who live in it, right?

Following this logic, since the beginning of 2019 – a year before the pandemic started – we were already operating in a home office format but still with a fixed headquarters that we transformed into a kind of Café in Vila Madalena, where we held, among other things, face-to-face meetings with our clients.

Now, however, with clients understanding that it is possible for a briefing meeting, a campaign presentation and even a discussion about a concept to happen brilliantly remotely, it is much more possible and even easier, I would say, to follow our positioning that the physical presence is not necessarily important for a good service and work relationship to happen.

Of course, when we feel safe, we will go back to having meetings with our clients, like lunches, coffees, and even face-to-face meetings. But today we understand that a fixed headquarters does not interfere in the development and maintenance of a good relationship based on proximity, trust, and partnership.

What we already know is that, just like several segments that have radically changed amidst everything the world is facing, we will also evolve and transform the way to remain always present, available, and close to our clients without having a headquarters for that.

And I say this with the confidence of someone who does not know most of the clients that now make ℓiⱴε’s portfolio in person. We have accounts such as YouTube operating for over a year and a half with excellent results and cases, and we never went to Google's headquarters to make this happen. Or even Natura, which we have just started operating after presenting a radical and innovative format for a real time content work, which made us win the account, without even going to the company's headquarters in Cajamar.

Or the launching of AmBev's non-alcoholic brands that we do with houses that operate with professionals spread all over Brazil and the social channels of the Guaraná brand, which has a community manager/creator living in every corner of the country, none of them live in the city where the client itself lives.

All this makes me see an encouraging scenario as the vaccination rate evolves for the entire population and the companies – some of them – return their in-locus operation, rather than operate remotely.

Encouraging because, after everything we have been through and are still going through in the last two years, I understand that many companies we serve, some of which are among the 10 most valuable companies in the world, understand that an agency does not need a room full of coffee and cookies for the campaign to be amazing or for transforming projects to be developed.

Here it is worth recalling a curious story. Once, a few months before the pandemic outbreak, I received a call from a director of one of the companies we worked for, saying that he needed a face-to-face meeting the next morning to talk about our relationship. I went there, along with a few other people from the team, without knowing the subject that would be discussed, and how big was our surprise was to hear that we were too modern, that he did not feel comfortable having a team working from home. He wanted to arrive at the agency and see people working for him. He wanted to have the control and know that the people were actually there. 

Our contractual relationship ended there. Because of an incompatibility of views. And the funniest part of this story was knowing that, a few weeks later, his new agency, including himself, were working remotely due to the pandemic. Life is funny and plays tricks on us all the time.

>> Don't try to replicate the relationship remotely as if it was happening in the physical world <<

Booking a lunch through Google Meet/Zoom or any similar tool can be a very frustrating experience, for example. Take advantage of features we often overlook, like audio calls or voice messaging for brief chats and simple resolutions of issues that could be discussed in the post-meeting hallway encounter and often run out of space to be discussed

>> Understand the real need for a physical meeting <<

It may seem too obvious now but being in transit for 1 hour to go and 1 hour to return from a meeting causes professionals to waste a valuable time of the day in a function that often doesn't pay off. The physical meeting needs to be something that will really change the game of that job, so those hours that were lost in transit are better than the professionals' hours in brainstorming, work management, exchange with the internal team, moments of inspiration and even creative leisure.

>> Use technology to your own favor <<

Several resources available today make the remote experience more enjoyable for those who watch, present, and interact in a workshop, for example. Search, research, see what makes sense for your business. Using the right devices and tools will elevate the experience to another level