Co-Founder & CEO at HawkSEM, helping brands “crush it” through ROI-focused, results-driven digital marketing programs for over 12 years.
When you’ve worked with hundreds of clients, you start to see patterns. After more than a decade of running a marketing agency, I’ve learned what questions to ask that can help me determine whether or not a partnership is likely to pan out. I’ve been on the other side as the client plenty of times as well.
When I broached my team about what they wish more people knew about successfully working with a marketing agency, a few themes came up time and again. In this article, I’ll break down five of them.
1. Start off on the right foot.
Getting in sync from the very beginning can be the make-or-break factor that determines if an agency partnership will last. When you sync on the main aspects, like timelines and expectations, you’re much more likely to stay on the same page as time goes on.
It’s not uncommon for clients to expect immediate results, no matter your industry. But experienced marketing agencies know that’s not how things work, even when it comes to paid search. Sure, there can be some quick wins to be found here and there, but overall, if a rep or team expects an agency to lasso the moon in the first month, they probably won’t be happy with any agency’s results.
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2. Focus on collaboration.
Agency partnerships are a two-way street. One of the main reasons businesses hire marketing agencies is to take tasks off their plate. While that’s certainly something agencies do, we’ve found the relationship is much more successful if the company’s reps take time to collaborate with their agency during the initial setup and onboarding phase.
The quicker your agency gets onboarded and receives access to everything they need to do their job (along with your trust), the better the outcome will be.
3. Be clear about your communication style.
Speaking of collaboration, a big part of that comes down to communication style. Do you prefer a once-a-week summary email, a monthly Zoom meeting, a brief biweekly phone call or something in between?
The more feedback, information and insight you can give into how your team operates and functions, the better your agency can come up with a strategy for delivering results that work for you.
4. Understand that agencies have limits.
Even the best ad copy, blog post and landing page can’t fix a bad product or offer. The last thing you want your marketing to do is over-promise on something you can’t deliver — in that case, nobody wins.
Not only that, but a poor product or customer service experience eventually affects marketing acquisition costs, churn rate and customer lifetime value. Basically, if it seems like both you and your agency are doing everything right and still not seeing results, it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
5. Think long term.
It’s tempting to have an agency help build or optimize your account, then leave to handle things yourself. And while that may make sense for your brand, it can be beneficial to zoom out and think about how continuing to build this partnership may help you further down the line.
Sure, I could be biased. But experience tells me that the longer clients stick around, the better and better their results get. That’s because they’ve got dedicated pros constantly reworking, testing and tweaking their strategies. Not only that, but agency partners often have access to new and beta features that could end up giving their clients an edge over competitors.
There’s trial and error with any business partnership. Finding the right fit can take time, but it’s worth it to put your marketing in the hands of an agency you trust.
By being thoughtful and strategic about what you’re looking for, what you expect and how you want to communicate, you can build a successful partnership that brings in solid results.
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Author: Sam Yadegar, Forbes Councils Member