Much like when you begin dating someone new, there is a “honeymoon period” in client and agency relationships; there are days where everything is sunny, you’re both thrilled with one another and communicating flawlessly. However, the true strength of the agency relationship becomes evident when times get tough. Is your agency prepared to go above and beyond to help you? Is the relationship with your agency strong enough to weather the tough times: tight deadlines, misunderstandings in communication, and disappointment when expectations are not met?
At Point It, we put a large emphasis on building relationships (see: 5 Ways to Manage Clients By Assuming Positive Intent), fostering rapport, and creating a collaborative partnership with our clients! You may be asking yourself, “What does a great agency relationship like the one you’re describing look like?” While we can’t tell you what to look for when it comes to love, here are 5 things to definitely look for in your marketing agency relationship.
1. Capacity for Communication
In any business, a lot of energy and effort is expended in “getting to the sale.” We’ve all been there, right? However, you don’t want to be left hanging once the ink on the contract is dry and the retainer has been paid. Your agency should demonstrate a capacity for communication: being highly responsive, and not letting long stretches of time lapse between phone calls, emails, and check-ins. They also should be committed to client happiness from day one, instead of only when the contract comes up for renewal.
What does true partnership look like with an agency that builds rapport and delivers success through complete communication? To use an example from a Point It case study, in order to determine ways to outperform the competition, Door to Door’s marketing team and Point It delved deeply into Door to Door’s SEO and traffic analytics. This required Point It to expend many hours explaining the most complex parts of SEO to the Door to Door marketing team, so that they could understand and competently discuss the strategies we devised.
We were happy to invest this extra time in the Door to Door team, and our relationship deepened as a result. Another unexpected benefit- we tutored our client until they had a very sophisticated understanding of SEO, which only improved communication and decision-making going forward.
What happens when an agency is actively engaged in your business? They find the “good stuff” you otherwise might not see. Savvy client managers are data hounds. When they sniff something that doesn’t seem right they chase it down, even if it takes forever, because they get their kicks out of solving mysteries. This is the kind of intensity that is driven by knowledge rather than the dollar, and it is this exact type of team-player you want on your agency roster.
Can personal relationships thrive without transparency and honesty? No, they cannot, so you shouldn’t expect a relationship with your marketing agency to survive without it either. Your next agency should have no problem setting up clearly and consistently reporting results to you. The right agency knows that transparently reporting successes and failures leads to increased trust with the client, and a higher level of confidence in the relationship.
Bonus points if the agency takes the lead and proactively asks the client about their own expectations regarding the reporting of success metrics.
Every relationship is different, and each relationship needs different things in order to make them work for the long term. (I’m still talking about agencies here, guys, because they’re no different as well!) A great marketing agency will have clients all over the world, and still put a premium on face-to-face interaction, regardless of location.
At Point It, we have clients all over the world, including San Francisco, Sun Valley, Sydney, and of course, Seattle. We frequently travel to meet our clients because we are team members, not, nameless, faceless, agency drones. If you are unhappy with your current agency, ask yourself if they’re delivering the high-touch, customer-centric partnership you desire.
If not, it may be time for a break-up.
What happens when you find the best agency and you don’t even know it? The answer: You come back, again and again, for the superior communication, performance and in-depth reporting. Great agencies know that good relationships are worth working for, because they can span years. Even if the champion at one organization leaves to go to another business, that is merely an opportunity for expansion!
To use another Point It example: our average client partners with us for 2.5 years. We could list a variety of reasons for our success: our Client Managers dedication to results and customer service, our own willingness to travel to clients, or our ability to create a truly collaborative partnership. Whatever the reason, customers keep coming back to Point It, again and again!
What do you think makes for a great agency relationship? Answer honestly; are you in one right now?