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Two of our leading lights in terms of developing client culture at Yard are Ross Foley and Claire Marshall. Ross heads up our relationships with clients at the prospect stage, while Claire takes the lead once they come onboard as partners. Here, they both share insights on developing client culture. 

Identifying client culture at the prospect stage 

There are certain criteria we always consider when speaking to a new prospect about the possibility of working with Yard. Some of these are obvious: their requirements, the technologies they use, and – yes – their budget. Some are less obvious, but equally important, like their attitude toward data-driven marketing or the extent of their strategic ambitions. Another consideration that’s equally critical to us, though probably less likely to appear on a list of ‘sales qualification priorities’, is culture. 
The idea of turning away new business on the basis of ‘culture’ is probably anathema to any hard-nosedsales professional. But before the Glengarry Glen Ross* crowd get too irate, let me explain why prioritising culture is so important and – ultimately – commercially sensible for Yard.  
(*Gen Z, read: The Wolf of Wall Street
It’s been a long time since I’ve sat in a sociology lecture but, to me, “culture” is essentially a collection of shared values. As such, when we’re assessing the cultural compatibility of a given prospect, it boils down to whether or not we prioritise the same qualities, attitudes, and standards.  
At Yard, these include:  
Commitment to experimentation – failing quickly, learning, and then trying something else. As a data-driven agency, this scientific test/verify approach is central to our processes, but it requires bravery and agility.  
Focus on shared learning – knowledge transfer is at the heart of our successful partnerships. When we complete a project with a client, we want both parties to be more knowledgeable, and better equipped to meet their next challenge.  
Open communication – like any relationship, communication is key. Transparency and clarity make it so much easier to identify and resolve issues together. Collaboration creates new ideas and opportunities.   
When clients align with Yard’s values, our relationships are more enjoyable, more productive, and longer lasting. At Yard, we always aim to build long-standing partnerships, because they allow us to develop a deep understanding of our client’s ambitions, and work with them to effectively realise strategic goals.  

It's extremely difficult to build a productive partnership over 3, 5, or 10 years when you don’t have cultural compatibility as a foundation. When you do, medium-to-long term goals, like ‘building a data-centric culture’, ‘consistently outperforming competitors on key SERPs’, or ‘having the best Digital PR activity in your industry’ come into play.  
For our clients, that means unlocking the enormous commercial benefits associated with big-ticket digital marketing objectives. For Yard, that means engaging, rewarding work for our delivery teams, and the security that comes from keeping our clients satisfied. In summary, culture isn’t just about shared values, it’s also about shared success.  

Developing client culture at the partner stage 

At Yard, we are committed to upholding our agency core values of firm financial footings, always leaning in, finding ways through, earning the right, proving our value, and being stronger together for the benefit of our clients. This is modelled not just in results, but our ways of working with each client. 

To embody these values, we believe in fostering a culture that encourages teamwork, creativity, and a focus on results, demonstrating the impact of our work through data wherever possible. Our team is encouraged to work collaboratively to develop innovative solutions for our clients' needs, always striving to deliver exceptional results that exceed expectations.  

For a balanced view of our culture, I asked some of our clients for their opinion for this article on where culture plays a part in how we work together: 

"For my part, I’d say the shared values of collaboration and excellence are a big part of why we work with Yard. There is a genuine care not just for the goals we hold but for how we work toward them, and the Yard team have often gone beyond scope to support us more widely, because they’ve taken the time to understand us as people and a business. I think this approach has allowed us to redirect our efforts as different results become apparent, and the Yard team have been flexible to allow for outcome-driven shifts." 

"Overall, I think having a positive culture between our teams makes it significantly easier for us to achieve our aims and goals. It improves our efficiency but also leaves us with a safe space to share feedback openly and constructively. Meetings don't feel so much like client vs agency, but a constructive conversation about how we want to work together to improve (whether that’s process or website performance). Where we have particular complications around being public sector and how we operate, the way we work together allows Yard to understand this (and anticipate blockers) rather than having it as a list of rules that need to be followed." 

Our culture is an integral part of why we work so well with our clients, and it's a crucial part of our shared success. We believe that by fostering a culture of collaboration, learning, and growth, we can continue to delight and achieve great results for our clients, which in turn contributes significantly to the happiness and feeling of reward felt by the Yard team. 

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