I’ve personally been both sides of the agency/client relationship a number of times. For that reason, I know full well some of the challenges and frustrations that can come with commissioning any sort of marketing agency.
I’ve noticed over the years, particularly within digital marketing agencies, there’s a bit of a tendency to try and blind clients with science, hide poor results behind fancy words and design and use a lot of smoke and mirrors to skate by. As a digital marketing agency, you’re being commissioned by the client because you are (or they believe you to be) the experts in your field – the majority of the time they’ll have little to no prior knowledge or expectations around digital marketing.
So you hold all the cards – and with great power comes great responsibility. I’m personally a bit sick of hearing agency horror stories, and think the industry needs to pull its socks up – so here are my views on what to expect from your digital marketing agency.
Digital marketing agencies – particularly larger ones – usually operate in a studio model. They’ve got a team of executives, overseen by a head of department or discipline and a studio manager for project-based stuff. In some businesses, the account manager – your interface into the agency, is separate from the executive actually working on the account. There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s obviously a logical way to structure your business as your team and your client base get bigger. The problem arises when you have no visibility of the team working on your account, progress and strategy because of the account manager buffer. A digital marketing agency worth their salt, even if they’re on the larger side, will bring you in early to introduce you to their team, and give you full visibility and transparency around what’s going on and when. A weekly call or update on progress should be the bare minimum that they provide to keep you up to speed.
Duh, right? You’d expect that every digital agency would delivering actual, tangible results to their clients. Well, as I alluded to earlier, unfortunately, some agencies, hindered by lack of resources, lack of transparency, and other issues, can tend towards smoke and mirrors rather than driving towards demonstrating actual value. As marketers, it is admittedly easy for us to hide behind pretty words and pretty pictures. Stick a nice looking infographic or website tweak in front of a client, and they’ll be distracted from the fact you haven’t got them any new leads this month. An agency who doesn’t consult with you and sign up to your expectations in terms of results is one to avoid. “We don’t really guarantee results” is a massive red flag. What that translates to for me is “we’re scared to commit to anything in case we can’t achieve it, and we’re just going to take your money and hope you don’t notice”. It’s a harsh truth, but honestly, if you’re not all working together to achieve the same goal, what’s the point really?
As I’ve mentioned earlier in the post, it’s understandable that as an agency grows, they have to structure their team accordingly, and they may not be as agile or responsive as they were when they were smaller. That being said, for me, there’s really no excuse for not responding to client emails within a working day – even if it’s just say “we’ll discuss and get back to you by the end of the week” or “we’ll work on this over the next few days”. Again, it might seem like an obvious one, but I’ve heard horror stories from clients about previous agencies taking two weeks to make simple website changes, and having to be chased constantly for updates. Responsiveness isn’t necessarily about turning things around quickly – you want to ensure the quality is there – but it’s about keeping up the communication and committing to realistic timescales to getting stuff done.
A consultative approach
Nothing is more disheartening than being shot down – so why do so many digital marketing agencies do this to their clients? It’s a common one – the client comes up with an idea for a campaign or piece of marketing material, and for whatever reason, the agency doesn’t agree and shoots it down. Now, I’m not suggesting agencies should sign up to absolutely every idea a client comes up with – after all, the agency is the expert in this situation. If the agency truly feels that it isn’t going to fit in with the campaign, they should feed this back to the client. That being said, as the client, you know your business and your market, so they should at least take on board what you have to say, go away, discuss and offer alternative if the don’t directly agree with your strategy.
As an agency, Inflowing work hard to deliver all of the above – because we truly believe it’s the right thing to do. We love seeing our clients being successful, and that’s only ever going to happen if we’re all working towards the same goal. For a single monthly payment, Inflowing will be all of the above and more – a truly outsourced marketing team, with unlimited marketing and design up for grabs. Find out more.