Relationships of any type can be a lot of work—whether you’re talking about personal or professional situations. Sure, much of a digital agency and client relationship is based around meeting goals and measuring success, but the key element to the entire scenario is the relationship itself. Without a solid relationship between an agency and a client, milestones turn into bottlenecks and obstacles. So, how do you know your client relationship strategy is one that will work? Follow these tips!
1. Put Your Best Pitch Forward
The initial pitch is a time when the person doing the pitching not only showcasing the agency’s talent but also lets the client in on the personality of the organization. The best way to build rapport during the pitch process is to incorporate clients’ needs directly into the pitch itself. Do some homework before the big pitch day to understand the client’s pain points, who their audience is, and what sets them apart in their industry.
Agencies: Bring the account manager and other team members into the process as early as possible to facilitate a strong, healthy relationship. This will serve as the foundation for trust and smooth interactions going forward.
Clients: Ask the agency owner if you can include your account manager in conversations early on. This will enable you to get to know each other and establish a relationship so your account manager can hit the ground running when they take over. It will save you from having to restate your goals and help you both to be on the same page with your new go-to person from the very beginning.
2. Start with a Client-Specific Marketing Strategy & Plan
The road to success is paved with strategy. When it comes to digital marketing, strategy is everything. It drives successes, opportunities, campaigns, and programs. Interviews with the client’s staff and customers can help you dig deeper into the elements you need to understand to create a successful strategy going forward.
Agencies: Provide the client with a detailed, well-documented marketing strategy upfront. This will provide them with a scenario or campaign and give them an idea of how your team works together and alongside them to understand the brand, goals, and target audience.
Clients: Share the proposed marketing strategy with your customer-facing employees; those are the people who field day-to-day questions from your audience and know the most about your customers.
3. Make Measurable Marketing Goals and Tactics
No strategy is complete without a defined set of key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs demonstrate whether the strategy is actually working or not by measuring a baseline, then tracking all the metrics that were defined at the outset of the project. Clearly explain how each tactic will affect the campaign—even when one tactic might serve two or three different roles in the strategy. For example, a single blog post might serve as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), thought leadership, and audience experience. Each of these elements affects the customer journey differently, so it’s important to understand how that customer will be affected as they encounter the different factors of the campaign.
Agencies: Give specific definitions to otherwise vague terms such as “optimization” and “marketing management.” Also define what’s not included in these types of terms and provide complete transparency to eliminate confusion or frustration in the future.
Clients: If you need to revise your agency expenses, don’t forget that all of the elements of your strategy are interconnected. Talk to your account manager about which cuts would be best so you don’t disrupt the flow of your overall digital marketing strategy.
4. Put Mutual Respect at the Forefront of the Relationship
Mutual respect frees everybody up to be their own people and express ideas openly. This is imperative in the marketing world, as people who feel inhibited may be less willing to share ideas that could really knock the socks off the target audience. Mutual respect allows everyone involved in the relationship to express opinions and feelings without fear of rejection or reprisal. After all, this is a creative field, and the more ideas you can bounce off each other, the more likely you are to see successes out of your strategies.
Agencies: Make sure your client is aware that they can offer suggestions or disagree with ideas. It might not feel good to the person who offered the idea, but you can always use those thoughts down the road for another campaign.
Clients: Don’t be afraid to tell your agency that a certain suggestion isn’t working for you. If you have your own vision of what you want your campaign to look like, share it with the team. You might be surprised, but your own input can send them off to the races once they know what you’re looking for.
5. Establish Clear Goals
You can’t know if your campaigns are a success unless you know what you’re measuring. If you’re making a campaign just because you think you have to, what will you really be accomplishing? Clear goals need to be established right up front. Are you trying to gain more followers? Increase traffic to a certain landing page? Increase donations to an annual fundraising campaign? There are dozens of reasons you might be embarking on a marketing campaign; set those goals from the very beginning so everybody has a foundation to work from.
Agencies: You’re the expert, so you might have to guide your clients and ask them questions that will help you establish the goals. Once you’ve got a plan in place, share it with your client and ask for feedback from the very beginning to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
Clients: You might know what you want to achieve, but it’s okay if you don’t. Take direction from your marketing team because they do this all the time. You should make sure you know the exact goals of your campaign right from the start, and they should be designed with measurable metrics and milestones that will show you when you’re succeeding (and when you’re not). If your agency doesn’t offer this information before they dive into the project, be sure to set up a meeting and ask for specifics.
6. Incorporate Ongoing Communication
Communication is absolutely necessary in any relationship. It enables both parties to know what’s going on with the other, where things stand, and what the future looks like.
Agencies: Be open and honest with your clients through every step of the process. Share successes and milestones with them, but also let them know when you’re experiencing bottlenecks or hit hurdles and when you feel it’s time to pivot your strategy. Let your clients know they can reach out to you at any time to offer feedback and ask questions.
Clients: Be sure the main team members that are working on the campaigns are included on all the meetings. That person should feel empowered to reach out to the agency and liaise between your team and the agency team with any questions or comments that arise.
7. Be Proactive with Transparency in the Results
Successes are awesome, and you’ll probably always want to share them. However, not everything works the way it’s expected to on the first try. Opportunities for growth need to be shared across both teams, too.
Agencies: Commit to sharing results with your client on a regular basis. Set forth regular calls (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly) so everybody can touch base, see what’s going on, and talk about the successes and opportunities at that point in the campaign. It’s also important to share anything that isn’t working with your client as well. Not only does this build a trusting relationship, but it shows you care about their results and want to work to improve metrics that aren’t meeting goals.
Clients: Ask questions. A truly transparent agency will be happy to provide you with the answers or information you’re looking for. If your agency is withholding information, it might not be a good fit for your firm.
8. Offer Flexibility to Change the Approach
Since things don’t always work out the way they’re planned, it’s important to be able to pivot and change direction if opportunities aren’t turning into successes. It’s a good idea to have a Plan B and Plan C in the beginning so you can easily change your route if things don’t work out as expected.
Agencies: Stay on top of analytics and metrics so you know if things are working or not. When they’re not, be ready to make a change and go in a new direction to ensure the success of your clients’ campaigns.
Clients: Don’t commit to a single route and stick to it. It’s possible that you might need to exercise some flexibility as the campaign rolls out in order to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
9. Be Open to New Ideas
It all comes down to new ideas. Whether they come in the beginning of the brainstorming process or the middle of the campaign, new ideas are essential. All of the aforementioned points come down to enabling creativity.
Agencies: Let your employees speak freely about their projects. They should be sharing ideas, pain points, and obstacles they’ve overcome. Sharing between team members helps everybody in the long run.
Clients: While your agency may be running with the campaign, you should still be thinking about things you’d like to see and sending your account manager ideas as they pop up. Incorporate your own team on the brainstorming process so the ideas come from the foundation of your culture.
Zero Gravity Marketing (ZGM) is proud to be the marketing agency of choice for clients in all types of industries. ZGM prides ourselves on our relationships with our clients and the optimal transparency we deliver on every project we take on. We treat each client as if they’re our only client and consider them as part of our team—just as we consider ourselves a part of theirs. If you’re ready to work with a team that knows how to make relationships work with our clients, we’re ready to get started. Reach out to us today!