How to get the most out of your marketing agency relationship

No matter how good a marketing agency is, its ability to “deliver the goods” when it comes to a successful marketing campaign is not guaranteed. Technical and creative talent needs feeding with good information and clear direction as a minimum, and that responsibility lies at the feet of both the client and the relationship manager on the agency side. So if you’re a business that relies on agencies and you’re finding that they’re not quite delivering what you expected, here’s a few things to think about before throwing in the towel.

The briefing

Agencies require a comprehensive brief for each campaign and for best results, you should spend time talking through the brief in detail to ensure clarity of vision. This also provides an opportunity for any questions about your brief to be answered. Time invested now equals time and money saved later on.

Expecting a ‘yes’ at all costs

Recently we received an enquiry from a new potential customer. He was scathing about the previous agencies he’d worked with saying that they had promised him everything and delivered nothing. He’d worked his way through 3 agencies and spent £30k and so he had every right to be angry. In his enquiry, he demanded to be told whether we were capable of delivering or not. If we weren’t we should tell him right away and not waste his money.

After researching his company, his website and general online presence, we concluded that major improvements would be needed to his website, his various landing pages and his social media presence before we would consider running any campaigns on his behalf. We weren’t being pig-headed, we simply knew that without it, we would not be able to deliver results and we knew that this was where the other agencies had fallen down. The potential client, unable to accept that this was the reason his campaigns had failed so far, decided that we were not the agency for him and he moved on to search for a new agency that would just run his campaigns regardless and make them magically work. It’s very likely, that this decision will cost him yet more money in the months to come.

A good marketing agency is not one that will say ‘yes’ all of the time. A good agency will care more about the delivery of results and their reputation above making a quick buck. After all – if an agency delivers results, a client is likely to use them long term and is more likely to recommend them. It makes financial sense. It’s important then, as a client to encourage pushback from your agency on your projects. If something is not right or unlikely to work, wouldn’t you rather know now, before you invest time, effort and money? The alternative isn’t productive for anyone on either side of the relationship.

The results

There is often a mismatch between clients’ expectations of what a campaign can achieve and what a marketing agency believes can be delivered but it’s rarely discussed at the beginning of a project. It’s that white elephant in the room. Clients don’t want to sound foolish by asking how many leads / sales / website hits they’re going to get just in case it’s impossible to predict. There’s also that odd British mentality that it’s rude to ask such a tricky and direct question. Agencies on the other hand, often avoid the discussion because it lures them into a discussion which a client might take as a commitment to a specific result. It’s important then, to bite the bullet and set expectations (client) and manage expectations (agency) at the very beginning. Expectations on both sides need to be aligned before any work begins otherwise the project will be doomed from the start.

The communication super-highway

Good communication isn’t just essential at the beginning of a campaign. It’s important to maintain the momentum throughout. Short-term, high intensity campaigns require daily communication, whilst mid-long-term, lower intensity project may be ok with just weekly, or even monthly catch-ups.

These catch-ups are perfect for your marketing agency to provide you with an update on the progress of the campaign, but they’re also an important platform for you to provide feedback of the campaign from your perspective. Are you happy with it? Are you noticing an impact? Are there changes / improvements you would like to make? Are there niggling doubts you need quashed?

There’s a wider aspect to the need for good communication too. Here at businesshands, we have a number of long-term clients who trust us implicitly to run almost all of the marketing activities for them without intervention.  What we find particularly useful in this kind of relationship, is to receive regular updates about the company, the highs, the lows, the successes, the challenges and any changes in direction the company might be taking. It helps us to understand our clients better and puts us in their shoes, enabling us to deliver a more accurate representation of their brand. Without this, we simply would not be able to provide a quality service.

Of course, there’s many more ways the relationship can be improved between you and your marketing agency, but those above will get you off to a good start. Sometimes however, no matter what you try – the relationship just isn’t right and in those situations, its best to part company quickly and move on to pastures new. In those circumstances, we hope you’ll make us here at businesshands your next stop.

Not seeing any results from your marketing budget? Here’s why…

Over the years, we’ve spoken to literally hundreds, maybe even thousands of companies about their marketing and we’ve found they typically fall into one of four categories.

  1. Companies that don’t believe that marketing works
  2. Companies that have no marketing budget but would ‘do’ marketing if they had one
  3. Companies that do have a marketing budget but aren’t getting the required results.
  4. Companies that do have a marketing budget and are getting results from it

If you recognise that your organisation sits firmly in the third category, this post is for you. Below we’ve listed five common reasons why a company’s marketing efforts might not bare any fruit. Don’t forget you can drop us a line at any point if you would like more information or assistance.

Wrong place

It’s a classic. Someone, somewhere at some point in the past said “Facebook works great for our business” and since then you’ve been valiantly pushing out content on ships propellers or the latest bulletproof vests through your Facebook page waiting for phone to ring. There’s a school of thought which says the more places you market to the better… but it’s wrong. That’s only good for a marketing agency’s wallet. Spend your time, effort and money on marketing your business in places where your customers hang out. If that’s LinkedIn, great. If it’s a forum or a specific industry platform, then market to there. Don’t be too quick to jump to assumptions though. You wouldn’t think Instagram for example, would be a good place for a shipyard to market, but Besiktas Shipyard in Turkey has got over 17.6 thousand followers. Take a look.

Wrong Message

Customer-centric marketing is nothing new. It’s about focusing your marketing message (and your strategy) around the wants and needs of your customers to drive engagement. It’s not about pushing out product or company information and explaining why you’re the greatest. Imagine if we were to say that we’re the best marketing agency for small and medium sized businesses in the UK over and over again… you might find that interesting once, but you’d grow tired of that message pretty quickly. Audiences are fickle and it might not be a very “PC” thing to say – but they’re self-absorbed and will always ask “what’s in it for me?”.  Focus your marketing on how your product or service will make your customers feel. What problems does it address? How will it transform your customer’s lives?

If you’ve got your head around customer-centric marketing and it’s still not working – your message can still be wrong, irrelevant or outdated. Market research will tell you the challenges your target market face and what their buying triggers might be with surprising results. One last thing. Keep your message simple. Don’t unnecessarily confuse your audience.

No measurement

Imagine giving someone £25,000 to buy a vehicle for you. A specialist vehicle that had to make a very specific trip and deliver a particularly niche product and your business depended on it. Now imagine after handing over the money and never bothering to check whether the purchased vehicle was up to the job or in fact, completed the job.

That’s the same as spending money on a marketing campaign and not measuring it. How do you know if the campaign is up to the job? How do you know if it delivered results? How do you know if it’s something you should be putting more money into it?

Before starting any campaign, understand what you’re trying to achieve and make sure you’ve got the tools in place to measure the metrics. If a campaign isn’t working, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to bin it and start again from scratch. Sometimes a slight change of wording or a different image is all it takes to turn a campaign around. A good marketing manager will always measure and refine again and again and again.

Poor Website

Marketing forms part of your customer journey. It reaches out to people and draws them in… normally to your website. Your website then furnished your visitors with more information and gets them excited enough about your product or service that they’ll want to purchase or make an enquiry about it. Having a poor website puts an instant stop to the customer journey. We’ve seen some great campaigns recently on LinkedIn ads and we’ve clicked through to see if they can help our business. Often though the campaigns have directed us through to a dated or incomplete website with poor grammar and broken links. LinkedIn marketing isn’t cheap and some companies are spending hundreds, if not thousands of pounds every month directing people through to a website which is turning potential customers away. Before you start any marketing campaign – plan the customer journey and make sure every step along the way leads your customers towards a potential purchase.

No follow up

Following on from our point about marketing being a journey, prospective customers often need a little nudge in the right direction, even if they’ve reacted positively to your marketing so make sure you give it to them. It’s easy to think that a prospect has gone off the idea of buying your product because they’ve not been back in touch, but the truth is – we’re all busy people and we all get distracted. Make it a rule that every marketing campaign is measured and followed up to ensure you’re making the most of your marketing budget. You’ll be surprised at the difference a follow up can make.

That’s all in this post. If you would like more information about the points raised or you would like to talk about how our marketing services can benefit your organisation – get in touch on +44 (0) 207 458 4788. Thanks – and don’t forget, if you’ve found this article useful, someone you know probably will do too so place share.