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Client 101: Building a Relationship with Your Digital Marketing Agency

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Working with a marketing agency is more than a business transaction — it’s a professional relationship. And much like your romantic entanglements, it takes some work.

That work can’t be one-sided, though. 

As they say, it takes two to tango, and clients ultimately get the service and results they deserve. It’s worth your time to make sure you understand how to build a good rapport with your agency.

Here’s how you can bring your A game to the agency relationship and get the best work for your money.

Find the Right Team

Before you pick a marketing agency, you should do your homework. There are a lot of agencies out there, and they won’t all match your business style.

Ask about their experience, values and staff. Are they focused on traditional marketing or do they work solely online? How do they treat their employees? Are they responsive to your requests?

You want to make sure a new marketing agency will integrate into your existing business culture, while still challenging you creatively.

It’s also important to be clear about your expectations. A new marketing agency needs to understand your goals, worries, internal politics and ideas. This is not the time to be shy.

We understand how difficult that can be. We’re from the Midwest, after all, where it’s not the norm to speak your mind.  But you need to know that even the best project manager can’t read your mind. It’s unfair to expect your agency to guess at what you want, so make sure this conversation is had well before you sign a contract.

Communication and Expectations

We’ve found at 9 Clouds that if something isn’t going exactly right internally or with clients, there are two main causes: a communication issue or an expectation issue. When kicking off your work with a new agency, make sure you are truly on the same page about what success looks like to you.

At 9 Clouds we are working to increase quality web traffic with content, convert that traffic into leads and ultimately get our clients more customers whatever the definition of a customer may be for them. We’ll be operating with those goals in mind unless otherwise communicated.

If the number of leads that schedule appointments is super important to you, make sure you communicate that up front so we plan accordingly to deliver that result to you. If the number of people who have opened emails and purchased is that key metric for you, make sure your agency knows that.

ROI is what is most important to us so we want to make sure that we are always communicating the value we provide and meeting the expectations of our clients. Make sure you participate fully in that process as a client.

Trust the Process

Once you’ve done the legwork and found a killer marketing agency, it’s time to fine-tune the relationship.

We’ve heard about clients micro-managing their agency, controlling every move. This won’t get you quality work.

To be a good client, you’ve got to put some trust in your agency. The expectations have been communicated and set and the people assigned to your account are there because they are talented, creative workers. You hired them for their insight. So step back and let them do the job.

You wouldn’t follow the mechanic into his shop and oversee an oil change. Put the same amount of trust in your marketing agency. These are professionals you hired to do a job you couldn’t do on your own.

Patience is a Virtue

No Great Thing...“No great thing is created suddenly.”

The Greek stoic Epictetus wasn’t talking about your marketing strategy, but it’s a fitting sentiment. Give your agency the time they need to get something done.

It’s unreasonable to request something outside of the agreed upon scope of work be delivered with 24 hours notice or sent in a few hours. There’s no reason to treat your partner so poorly, especially when they’re just there to help you out. Also, make sure those requests will ultimately help your agency meet your expectations and deliver ROI. Always keep the end game in mind.

If you’ve got a good agency, they won’t wait until the last minute to ask you for information either. An agency won’t bother you for unnecessary facts. If they’re emailing or calling, it’s vital, so don’t hold out on them.

Don’t Play Telephone

One of the best things about working with a small agency like 9 Clouds is the personal touch. You work with a small number of people, which increases efficiency and decreases confusion.

We’d suggest following this rule with your future marketing agency, too.

If content goes through several different departments and managers, it can turn into a big game of telephone. Everyone doesn’t understand your marketing plan, so it’s unfair to make them all responsible for its success.

You should make one person at your company the primary contact for your agency.

This person should be as committed to the relationship as the agency. They should be open to new ideas and willing to compromise. They should be an advocate for your business, and they should understand the agency’s role and expectations.

When your IT department fights back against the marketing plans, this contact should be able to explain the motivation behind any changes. When your sales team is unhappy with leads, this person should communicate with the agency.

Be the Best Client

Building a relationship with your marketing agency takes trust and communication. A client who is uninvolved in their marketing isn’t going to get the best work. But a client who pushes their agency — respectfully — will get the full potential of their marketing package.

We think you should be honest and be human in your interactions with your marketing team.

If you’re not happy with your current agency, take a serious look at your actions as a client. Are you making it difficult for them to meet your expectations? If you’re doing your part as a client and you’re still dissatisfied, it’s time for a frank conversation about their results.

We’re always looking for great clients to work with our great marketers. Contact us to find out more about the culture at 9 Clouds and how our inbound marketing techniques work.

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