April 4, 2017
You’ve signed the contract with your new agency and now you’re itching to see your money put to good use. In other words, you want to see the agency turn your marketing into a well-oiled cash machine, right?
Of course you do! That’s why you hired the agency in the first place. And, if you hired a good agency, this is exactly what it will do. But it can’t do it without your help. In fact, taking your hands completely off your digital marketing as soon as you hire an agency is a mistake.
There is a saying in the agency world: “the work can only be as good as the client.” This isn’t supposed to assign blame, but to illustrate that cooperation is of the utmost importance for the success of any agency-client project. Having been on both sides of the table (the agency’s and the client’s), I think the saying is correct. What it fails to mention, though, is that there is room for improvement on both sides.
A recent study shows that relationships are not actually improving. In 2016, only 53 percent of surveyed agencies reported an improvement in their relationship with the customer. In 2015, 73 percent of agencies were happy with their relationship improvements.
So, what should you do to play your part in attaining your revenue goals through your agency’s work?
1. Always be honest
Think of your agency as a doctor – the more you tell them, the more they can help you. There’s no point in hiding your past failures; this is not a contest.
Reveal what you tried in the past, what worked for you and what didn’t. Why let your agency hit the same bumps in the road? This only consumes your time and your money, so it literally helps no one.
2. Be sure you know what you expect from them
I had a lot of discussions with clients who wanted “a few blog posts” or “social media likes.” Invariably, I asked “why”? A good agency won’t get to work until it knows where its work fits into the grand scheme of things aka your marketing strategy.
For instance: are those blog posts designed to drive traffic or to generate leads through e-mail subscription? This is important to settle from the beginning, because it will definitely influence the copy.
When it comes to social media, things get even more blurry. People want hundreds of thousands of followers and fans, but fail to see the big picture. What are you using social media for? Nurturing your loyal customers? Customer acquisition? Or is it simply for brand awareness? Again, the answer dictates not only what your agency posts on social media, but also what networks it focuses on the most.
3. Have realistic expectations
When I was working as a CMO, I always gave my agencies deadlines that were a bit tighter than what I really needed. I did the same with KPIs. Of course, we always ended up negotiating both, but I found it was good to take these precautions. However, all my requests were doable. I never asked for a press release to be delivered within half an hour or for a website to be fully functional in less than two days.
I now run my own agency and, when clients don’t set the deadlines themselves, I always add one day extra when possible. It’s important to me that my agency never misses a deadline (I know how important punctuality was when I was on the other side of the table), so I take these precautions in case one of our writers falls ill or is unable to complete the work for any other reason.
The same goes for the results you expect. You should never trust an agency that promises to double your revenue in two weeks. It may look good on paper and in your projection charts, but unrealistic goals won’t bring you anything but frustration.
4. Try not to micromanage your agency
Remember that you’ve hired a digital agency because it has experts on staff and they know what they are doing. I know it may be tempting to check in on their progress at least twice a day, but that will keep them from doing actual work. If you pay them by the hour, then it’s even worse for your budget.
Try to discuss weekly or bi-weekly reporting meetings from the very beginning. Stick to the plan unless something urgent comes along in between your meetings.
Ask questions when you’re unsure why the agency chose a certain strategy or approach, but don’t make a habit out of doubting the people you hired. Think about them as if they were a team within your company. You want to be a leader who inspires, not one who micromanages everything and shuts their creativity down.
5. Keep your agency in the loop
Since the agency doesn’t share an office space with you, the people handling your account can’t find out about significant changes and developments on their own. Whether there was a change in management, a merger, an important contract signed or a simple new hire that looks good on social media, let them know.
Reacting in a timely manner and posting about hot topics related to your company before anyone else does is very important today. We live in an era where every minute counts. This is why, ideally, you should have a delegate that takes care of your relationship with the agency and that keeps them in the loop about any new development.
6. Be punctual
You expect the same from your agency, don’t you? But, at times, it’s even more important that you deliver everything on time.
Photos, quotes from managers, graphic work – your agency will most likely ask for these from you on a regular basis. Delaying the delivery of a quote from a C-level executive will delay the publication of your press release. If the artwork depends on you and it’s not done in time, neither will your article/brochure/social media post. If someone posts a photo of your CEO at an important conference before you do, you will have lost your moment to shine.
One thing that usually delays everything is approval. If you want to approve most of what your agency does for you before it sees the light of the Internet or the printer, make sure you can do so in a timely manner – typically in the same day if not within an hour.
Having a great relationship with your agency does wonders for your ROI
Working on this relationship is not just about happy employees. It’s also about KPIs, met goals and, in the end, your ROI.
Small things have a big impact when it comes to digital marketing, so make sure to schedule regular evaluation meetings (I typically set them each month or every three months) in which both you and the agency can discuss ways to improve communication and streamline your project management.
Adriana Tica is an expert marketer and copywriter, with 10 years in the field, most of which were spent marketing tech companies. She is the Owner and Founder of Idunn. In October 2019, she also launched Copywritech, a digital marketing agency that provides copywriting, SEO content writing, and strategy services to companies in the tech industry.