The relationship between clients and agencies, large or small, is pivotal. In many cases, it can be improved so that clients are happier and agencies retain more of their best clients.
Here are suggestions for both clients and agencies, since I’ve been on both sides of the arrangement. I did a video on the biggest mistake I see agencies make. But there are so many more learnings – for clients and agencies. So I’m sharing – please let me know if this helps you in your marketing efforts!
The biggest mistake that I see ad agencies make on a consistent basis is not really understanding what clients want. Often, agencies like to do what they do best: design beautiful website pages, create marketing content, set up ad campaigns, post on social media, etc.
But sometimes clients don’t really care about the marketing itself, or the tactics. They do the marketing as a means to an end – to sell. They want to grow their businesses (or nonprofit organizations), which means selling more products and services, or growing their customer (or donor) base.
Agencies don’t want to be held accountable for the sales funnel, which is understandable since they can’t do the selling themselves. But they need to be held accountable for helping with the process of getting people to their clients. And lots of times there are gaps between the marketing and the selling. It’s not enough to create a viral video and get lots of hits. If the marketing activity doesn’t generate leads or end up as revenue or website visits that end up with click-throughs and sales, then it’s hard to justify ongoing efforts. Brand building is key and doesn’t lead to sales – so brand building must be done with metrics to see how it’s working.
So it’s not easy to make clients happy. If you want to be a great agency and keep your clients, make sure you ask the tough question up front: what does your client need to see in order for your work to be deemed a success?
How marketing agencies set themselves up for failure
What is the root cause of disappointment for a client or customer? Think about your last disappointing experience. Was it really so bad? Or did you just expect it to be better?
My experience working with agencies over the years has varied from wonderful, because it was far beyond my expectations, to very disappointing, because it fell far short of what was promised.
Notice the theme? It was all about what I expected from them. And who set out those expectations? Who made me think I was going to get something? It was a combination of my own ideas, hopes, and/or requirements and those of the agency. They told me I was going to get something and I either did or I didn’t.
The root cause of most bad experiences with agencies comes, from a large extent, from the agencies themselves. At the very beginning of any project, they let the client know what they can (or cannot) expect with regard to results, outcomes, etc.
If, as an agency, you are having difficulty keeping clients over time, take a look at your own proposals and promises. Are you promising more than you can deliver? Are you keeping up with the newest technologies and delivering the best experience to your client?
If you are a client, managing agency projects, be sure that you’re outlining what you need and expect at the very beginning of an engagement. It’s your job to make it clear what you need at the outset – and not to move from it. If an agency delivers exactly what they say they will deliver, it’s doing its job. You may not like the results but it’s an opportunity to get better, a learning experience.
The key for all agencies to ensure they do not set themselves up for failure is to be sure, at the very outset of any project or relationship, that everyone is on the same page about what is to be expected. And then to be sure to deliver on that expectation.
3 magical tips for managing your external (or internal) marketing team
Here are three great ways to manage your marketing agency or internal team to ensure they deliver what you want and you have the greatest success from your efforts.
- Tell them what’s important to you.
This may sound simple but it’s not. Are you planning an event and want a certain number of people there? Tell them. Do you want more sales? Share what you think is a reasonable number, given your experience over time. Looking to build your brand? Let them know what that means to you and how you’ll be judging their results. You’re setting yourself up (and them) for failure if you’re not clear, at the beginning, about what counts to you. Not sure what you should expect? Ask them what they will be delivering for you. And if you don’t like what you hear, change it.
2. Watch the early results, ask questions, but don’t expect perfection at the start.
The early part of a campaign is where the marketing team watches what’s happening and, if they’re good, tweaks the campaign to maximize results. There’s nothing worse than a client seeing the early of a campaign and then telling an agency that it’s not what is needed. Yes, it’s great to be involved and to monitor. But don’t expect the final results at the very beginning. Marketing is part science and part art.
3. Be sure to have a thorough debrief every month to review the metrics from the campaign.
The team or agency should start with what they promise to achieve, and then as the campaign(s) roll out, show you data illustrating how they delivered on that promise. It’s good to think about your goals before the project starts. That way, all the metrics are set up properly at the beginning.
Try all these tactics and watch the data carefully. Once the agency or team sees what’s important to you and knows the metrics you want to see, magical results will happen!