Some agency-client relationships move forward productively, and others do not. I think a lot of clients, in the back of their minds, continually wonder:
- Is my marketing investment paying off?
- What exactly is our agency doing to earn its fees?
These are legitimate questions, for sure. If you are doubtful about the answers, then it could be you are not managing your marketing agency as effectively as you should. Here are a few ideas that will help you get the most out of your marketing investment, and just as importantly, do away with those feelings of uncertainty.
- Set clear, meaningful and measurable objectives for your marketing campaigns. A good objective is reasonable but not a “layup,” has a timeframe, and, if achieved, produces or contributes to producing an important business result. “Generating more site traffic” is not a good goal for an SEO campaign. “Generating 20 percent more site traffic resulting in 7 percent more conversions by 12-31-17” — much better.
- Insist on detailed, monthly activity reports from your agency. Any agency that hides its work should set off warning bells. Top-caliber agencies are transparent and have the ability to document their work in client-friendly formats and language. True, the amount of work done does not always correlate to immediate results, but is a strong indicator that effort, not luck, is driving your marketing campaign forward. Solid monthly reporting also provides a mechanism for continual campaign review and collaborative adjustments, which are also key elements to a successful campaign.
- Control the flow of information. Sometimes, it’s not a lack of effort but an excess of enthusiasm that derails campaigns. For larger organizations especially, it’s vital to prevent conveying information from turning into a free-for-all — free-for-alls cause people to work at cross-purposes, wasting time, diluting results and demoralizing everyone in the trenches. In most strong agency-client relationships, the agency and the client each has a single point of contact through which all communication can be channeled.
- Be professionally confrontational. At our agency, leadership wants to hear client concerns, criticisms and frustrations. Forcing agencies to guess whether the client is satisfied makes them apprehensive, which is not at all conducive to good performance. As long as problems are communicated in a professional manner, clients should never hesitate to voice concerns. Here’s one more thing to consider: The really, really successful clients view this as a two-way street, welcoming constructive feedback of any type from their agencies.
- Expect excellence, not perfection. Marketing, by its nature, has an element of vagueness and imprecision. No matter how sophisticated the data collection and analysis is, there’s no way to be 100 percent sure where every website visitor came from, where every lead came from, where every sale came from. (We know this from experience; our data management tools are quite sophisticated.) You’ll never be able to calculate your marketing ROI down to the penny, but you should be able to get it into a reasonably sized ballpark for any lead generation or revenue generation campaign.
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