Wednesday November 28th, 2012

How to make it last: three keys to the long-distance relationship

This isn’t about love. But it is about a successful, long-term client relationship – how it has evolved and matured – and how, with constant refocus, it keeps moving forward.

Graphica has partnered with Crown Equipment Corporation for a long time. Creative Director Drew Cronenwett remembers when he arrived at Graphica as a rookie designer 26 years ago: a Crown collateral piece was his first project.

Since then, Crown has manufactured new equipment, developed new programs, and experienced all the ups and downs any large multinational company would. Of course, we’ve changed, too. But despite all the changing, we’ve consistently delivered spot-on strategy and design. Key #1: Build your relationship on a strong foundation.

Now, nearly three decades later, Drew heads up Crown Europe for Graphica. In fact, he recently returned from a three-week trip to Crown Europe headquarters in Munich, Germany. He ate wiener schnitzel and took some incredible photos. But, most of all, he drove reach trucks, toured warehouses and manufacturing facilities, and talked about upcoming products and strategy with his Crown counterparts – I’m pretty sure he shared a few beers with the team, too. Key #2: Stay in touch. Stay informed. Nothing can replace face time, and even if you have to travel thousands of miles, let them know the relationship is worth it.

In part, what Drew discovered is that Crown’s needs have changed. As they look to the future, they intend to incorporate more technology and software into the design of their heavy equipment. In addition, they plan to approach their clients – including those in Russia, the Middle East, and even Africa – with a new way of marketing their products.

New technology? Strategic ways to reach your targets? Emerging markets? We’re listening. In fact, we’re already working on it (check out our recent Ektron certification). Turns out, Crown’s interests have changed much like Graphica’s capabilities. So Drew hit the ground running once he arrived back stateside, and big new projects are already in the works. Key #3: Listen. Respond. Be prepared to do what it takes to move the relationship forward.

Dear Abby has nothing on us. We value our client relationships, we invest in them and we know how to make great relationships, like that with legacy client, Crown, grow and get better with time. Most importantly, we know that healthy relationships are the only key to good business.