For a B corporation agency, some of the greatest impact you can make is through the relationships you build with your clients. This means effectively communicating your business ethics. It’s important that you grow your agency with clients that will get you to those big change-making moments. 

The question then becomes how do you make decisions around who you can and should work with. You want to build your company on clients with strong values that align with yours. You also want to be able to expand your benefits, upgrade to a more environmentally conscious work environment, and give back to your local community. Which clients will get you there and have the best all-around value can be tricky to determine. 

We put together four simple questions we as a team ask ourselves to determine if a client coming to us is a good fit for our agency.

  1. Does the client respect our business ethics?
  2. Is the client profitable and/or valuable for the agency?
  3. Is the client fulfilling/enjoyable?
  4. Is the client business and contact a values fit?

Does the client understand and respect our business ethics? 

Business ethics are the applied version of professional ethics. These corporations navigate the work they do, who they hire, and how they conduct business through the lens of their values. Mad Fish Digital has its own code of ethics, as well as adhering to B Corp community standards

A simple way for us to vet clients before we even engage in an exploratory conversation is to look at their website, values, and presence and compare it to the business ethics and corporate responsibility standards we’ve put out for ourselves. 

Is the client profitable and/or valuable for the agency?

The impact a B corporation makes in its community relies on it being a healthy and sustainable business. At the core, any new client must fit your basic standards for profitability and success. If you cannot bring success to that relationship, the client moves on and your revenue declines. 

B Corporations require conscious financial investments in employees, workplaces and benefits in order to realize the change you are striving to achieve. Ensuring you are bringing clients that can help you meet those goals is key. Being a B corp doesn’t mean you overlook the basic principles of good, healthy client growth. 

Is the client fulfilling/enjoyable?

We work hard. Our client strategy, paid media, design and content teams take their work seriously. They put in a lot of research and creative brainstorming to make digital campaigns that are successful and innovative. That time and energy is the most positive when they truly enjoy the relationship, the industry or the challenge of it. 

When we look at potential new clients, we determine if that work will feed our creative souls. When the client is interesting, the work is easier. When our client contact is amazing, the work is fun. When the client’s need is challenging, the work is rewarding.

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Is the client business and contact a values fit?

Our company values around innovation, collaboration and accountability help to frame all our work internally. They help us develop our services and processes. They are also key pieces in our determining whether a potential new client is a good fit for us. If the client comes to us with little interest in innovation or is unable to see the value we place on genuine, upfront communication, we know that success is limited.

The challenge of this criteria is that it is not always easy to determine early in the sales cycle whether the values align. With good listening skills, specific questions and online research, you can do a decent assessment of the client’s values and stack them against your own. 

Values fit encompasses the sticky point of the client’s industry. What types of industries is your company okay with working in? Will you work with a manufacturing company with a significantly bad environmental footprint or questionable oversees business practices? Do those industries challenge your values? There may be times where your agency is called in to help with the reputation of these types of companies. You may also be given the opportunity to help them promote their difference in that market space, pushing them to create change in their own sphere of influence. 

If you feel your agency can make an impact for change in a less than ideal industry, it may be a worthwhile relationship to pursue. Creating change is not always easy and may require some tough conversations and big moves to help change the world.

Putting it to the test

We’ve been using this criteria for six months or so. What we have found is that most clients hit or seem to hit all of our criteria. In a few cases, we have had clients meet just two or three. When this happened, our team came together to discuss if the missing criteria had the potential to change. Could we grow the account to a more profitable size through our work? Is there an individual on the team who is interested in championing the client to better align their business with our core values? If we have at least two criteria met with a plan for the rest, we greenlight the project. 

If we cannot align, specifically where values and business ethics are concerned, we turn down the opportunity and recommend a valued partner. 

Want to know what it’s like to work with a B Corp agency? Learn more about our giving back programs and our approach to digital services.