Close communication is key to successful client-agency partnership

Tue 6 Feb 2018 - posted by Jake Hall

Close communication is key to successful client-agency partnership

Digital marketing is an ever-shifting, fast-paced industry, which can make the relationship between an agency and its clients so very abstruse. If you’re a company that chooses to partner with an agency to develop a digital marketing strategy, and lean on them to subsequently implement that strategy through with content creation, SEO and amplification, it’s very important that you establish a transparent and synergetic foundation. In this article, we discuss the importance of working closely with your digital marketing agency, in order to get the most out of the relationship and successfully achieve your objectives and desired outcomes.

Your agency should create a smooth transition process:

Over the past 22 years, Interdirect has worked closely with its clients, to establish and nurture relationships that are built on understanding, mutual respect and most importantly trust. We recognise that what our clients are looking for is not only support in carrying out the task at hand, but experience, expertise and advice that go beyond their own knowledge, capability and capacity, all packaged up in a friendly, fun and energetic team, who will go above and beyond to deliver results.

We recognise that the first, most important step in the client-agency relationship is close communication, that enables both parties to gain as much insight and understanding into one another as possible. This will ensure that the account management process runs smoothly and the client’s expectations are met, or even better, exceeded.

Here’s what our process looks like:

1. First, the introduction meeting. This is where the sales team introduce the Account Manager and Project Manager who will be the day-to-day contacts for the client. It’s a quick meeting, but it accomplishes a lot; it establishes roles and responsibilities, communication expectations, timelines for review, and action items.

2. Next is the internal kick-off meeting. This includes the full project team, e.g. the service experts who will be executing the work. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the project and its requirements, plus to ask any questions and bounce around any initial ideas or suggestions.

3. Finally, we hold a client kick-off meeting. A clear agenda is set before this meeting because lots of information sharing occurs between the agency and the client.  By the end of this meeting, the agency team will have everything they need to move forward with the project successfully.

After this series of meetings, everyone involved should have a plan of action and clear expectations of the tasks ahead, which leads onto our next recommendation.

Clear expectations should be set by the agency and the client:

Clear expectations should be set out early in the sales process and will carry through the length of the agency-client relationship.

We like to ask our clients, “What does success look like for you?” and “How can we help you to achieve that success?” Knowing how we’re going to be measured will help us strategically plan between service offerings in the months to come.

The agency should also keep the client up-to-date with project progress and timelines, and any changes that could affect the delivery of the project. At the same time, the client should also be keeping the agency in the loop when they need to make changes to specific milestone dates that must be hit.

Expectations are crucial to the success of the project and can come in a variety of forms. For example, a SEO strategist will carry out a SEO audit with the client’s business goals in mind, which will result in a list of recommendations that need to be addressed on their website along with timelines in which the agency aim to complete them by.
Communication is key:

Keeping an open line of communication is crucial, in addition to sharing goals, it is essential the client gives the agency access to the tools they use to execute and measure their marketing campaigns. This allows them to have a complete picture of how they are performing.

Ongoing communication between the client and their agency is important to keep both on the same track. Here at Interdirect, we maintain communication by:

•    Scheduled weekly or bi-weekly calls where we provide project updates and constructive feedback on deliverables.
•    We provide monthly measurement reporting where we recap on the work completed during the month.
•    Hold quarterly business and strategy reviews where we analyse progress and actions in line with the quarterly business and strategy review.

Here at Interdirect, Quarterly business reviews involve several people, including the Account Manager, the client’s digital agency’s subject matter experts and the client. The purpose of the meeting is to take a step back from the day-to-day marketing activities and tactics, and to look at it from a strategic view point in line with the client’s overall business objectives. We review high-level performance to understand what’s working and what isn’t, we discuss how our relationship can improve, and set goals for the next quarter.

By providing regular and consistent feedback at every step of the process, whether it’s through constructive feedback on deliverables, updates during weekly calls, or quarterly business reviews, the client helps us get to know the client better, and enable us to offer them a much stronger service.

The client should treat the agency like an extension of their own team:

Communication is only one aspect of creating a partnership. It’s important to “treat the agency as a partner instead of a vendor.” The agency should be an extension of the client’s marketing team; this will create a strong relationship and ensure the marketing strategy is a success.

Successful Agency-Client Relationship:

It starts with trust. The client should trust that their marketing agency has their best interest in mind. One of the most common mistakes we see made by clients is a lack of trust. Interdirect makes strategic recommendations that we believe will help our clients to meet their goals and objectives. We build their audiences so that they in turn can gain real revenue from it.

Essentially, their success is our success, so the client should trust that their agency wants to see them succeed.

It would be impossible for our agency to be successful without client involvement. We may be experts in the marketing industry, but our clients are experts in their own fields. The same principle flows through every aspect of the relationship.

How to make sure the RIGHT agency is chosen:

When a client is looking for their next digital marketing agency, they should make sure they look beyond the initial appearance, e.g. their service offerings and client roster. They should see hints of the aspects outlined in this article in the conversations they hold with the agency. The client should make sure they ask the hard questions to determine if they think the agency would be a good fit with the organisation and the client is able to develop a long lasting and trusting working relationship.  The client will need to do their homework to ensure the agency has a good track record and are capable of fulfilling the client’s requirements.

Jake Hall, New Business Development Director, Interdirect

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