10 things we've learned from sitting next to our clients

Pass the doughnuts… If you’ve never considered embedding an agency team in your organisation, Haymarket Network’s 15 editors based at VWG’s Milton Keynes headquarters are a stellar example of why it works

Yes, Google Hangouts are great. But when a project demands journalistic expertise on tap, to provide up-to-the-minute, expertly crafted content on demand, there’s no substitute to having an editor sitting at the desk next to you. That’s why the Volkswagen Group Hub – an online portal that serves the information needs of the manufacturer’s UK retailers – was not only designed and built by Haymarket Network. For the past 10 years it has also been served by a team of the agency’s editors who work full-time at the VWG headquarters in Milton Keynes. Here they share the secrets of their success.

1. Understand your client
Whether it’s knowing what their interests are or how they have their cup of tea or coffee, it’s those little things that help build a relationship between us and the client. That rapport shows we care about the client (as an individual and as a company), and how much we value this account. After time, it leads to more opportunities – such as being included on training courses or product launches (which are great sources for content generation).

2. Know your business
We aren’t all car experts, but having an interest in finding out what the client’s main business areas are is crucial. Getting an understanding of what they do will help you do what you do best – and for our editorial team, it’s communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand way for the VWG network. We’ve also learned to dabble in the dark arts of process. Spreadsheets aren’t home territory for journalists, but we’ve found them really useful to keep track of all the essential communications we’re sending out to the VWG network, and it’s something the client now relies on us for.

3. Go the extra mile
We know everyone’s busy with their day jobs, and you see that first hand when you’re with your client 24/7. Offering to help with something outside our strict remit pays dividends down the line.

4. Get involved
Attending social events is a great networking tool – we use this to build rapport with the client and those who work with them. It’s great if you deliver good work but even better if they also enjoy working with you.

5. Take the opportunity to learn
We’re in a unique position where we can learn more about how our clients work and their business than we would if we weren’t sitting next to them. We’re not the only agency our client works with and, even though they’re not direct competitors for what we do as an editorial team, we get an idea of what’s expected. What’s the likelihood of this idea getting accepted? How should we present what we want a function to achieve? Sitting with our clients and being able to hear their day-to-day work means we know what they want – and how.

6. Bring fresh ideas
Our editorial team can offer a unique and external perspective to our client’s business and we love bringing creativity to our jobs. Coming to work armed with lots of ideas shows our client that we care.

7. Pass the doughnuts
Returning from holiday? Celebrating a birthday? Just a fan of Bake Off? Some cakes, cookies, doughnuts or candy go a long way to bring new faces to your desk.

8. Take time out with Haymarket colleagues
Sitting in the office with the client all week can have its perks, but it’s important to regroup with Haymarket colleagues at least once a week to share new editorial initiatives and make sure we’re always improving – that’s what we’re there for after all.

9. Make the best of both worlds
Two Christmas parties a year, days out, social events and freebies – it’s a hard life for the editorial team!

10. Embrace it
We make the most of the opportunity to sit with our clients every day, and embrace the culture and time spent with a different group of people. We even get the chance to do some really fun things – such as driving the brand new Audi Q8, learning how to mix cocktails and getting to travel to new places. It’s a unique opportunity, so why not make the most of it?