Check Your Relationship, Your Marketing Relationship That Is
How would you rate your relationship with your marketing agency? On a scale of “I have no marketing representative” to “I’m best friends with my marketing rep!” how do you feel about the relationship you have with those you trust to engage your customers?
How many times have you had agencies meet with you, tell you they can deliver the world to your doorstep and after thousands of dollars and deliverables you thought agreed to, you discover they really don’t know you or your business?
Does this sound like a relationship column in a magazine?
While we don’t want to go so far as saying hiring an agency is exactly like having a significant other, it is about having a connection to the people trying to help you with your business. Ask yourself the following questions:
Are you honest with your Account Director?
Have you told your account director what your hopes, dreams and fears are for your business? When you are happy with the products delivered, does your account director know it? If you don’t like what’s delivered, how do you handle it? Do you push back on proofs until you get exactly what you want? Or, do you say, “ok” because you’re intimidated by your account director or because you don’t know how to judge the end product?
Have you spent the time to teach your account director about your business, your challenges, and your goals? Have you asked your account director about his/her goals and business approach?
How much time did your account director spend learning about you, your business, your challenges and your goals? Did your entire campaign design come from one 30 or 60 minute meeting? Has she visited your business, talked to your employees and your customers? Have you asked him about what his definition is of success for the relationship? Between what you need to achieve and what your account director needs to achieve, is this a true partnership and a good fit? Is there trust on both sides?
Do you feel like the account director cares about your success?
Is your account director as excited about your successes as you are? Is he willing to make changes in the direction of the campaign if early signs show success is not happening? Is she able to help you manage a bad situation, should it occur suddenly?
Do you complete approvals in a timely manner?
If you are given drafts and proofs with two weeks to approve, do you provide approvals with enough time to make your requested changes? If campaigns are to be successful and relationships to remain in good stead, anticipate the time necessary to make your changes and improve the odds of a flawless product. It will allow your account director time to work with internal staff and maintain their internal relationships.
Have you worked out a measurable way to define the success of the campaign? Can you measure results during and after the campaign launch?
How will you decide if the deliverables and products for your campaign are successful? Are you able to measure a change in sales throughout the campaign? How will you determine increased awareness? Can you measure increased web or social media traffic? Can you count the number of interactions with customers and potential customers? Are you able to dedicate the time and resources to do the measuring throughout the campaign or will you rely on your Account Director to provide the results? Does your Account Director agree with the measurements so you’re both on the same page when it comes to defining success?
How are you paying your agency? Is it based on deliverables? Is there a retainer?
Payment terms often drive the incentives to perform. A campaign based on sets of deliverables can be attractive as a way to control the timing of payments. If there is a retainer, there may be a question about if the amount of services are equal to the amount paid each month. However, in both scenarios, is there flexibility to find the best approach and change direction of the campaign in mid stream, should results not occur as expected?
Be Honest About the Answers.
Think honestly about the answers to these questions. If you find yourself unsure about the answers, or uncomfortable with your perceptions, it may be a red flag about your relationship with your account director. By red flag, it may not mean it’s time to change agencies. Perhaps it’s time to have a discussion with your account director to reset expectations and make the connection with the other person more meaningful. This may be a tough conversation because it requires responsibility on both sides of the contract. The responsibility to grow and nurture this relationship over time lies on your side and that of your account director.
Just like advice from a magazine, sometimes you need to take a deep breath and work through it. However, if after you approach your account director and you can’t come to a common place of support, growth and ultimate success, then maybe it is time to find a new relationship. It may be painful, but both of you may be in a better place down the road.