How To Get The Most Value From Your Digital Marketing Agency | Paradigm Productions, Inc.
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How To Get The Most Value From Your Digital Marketing Agency

How To Get The Most Value From Your Digital Marketing Agency

most value from your agency

Productive client-agency relationships take time to establish an effort to cultivate. While there is abundant information available online about what clients should look for when selecting a digital marketing agency, not as much is available on getting the most value from the one that you have chosen.

There is a multitude of things that could be done, but here are a few select suggestions to get you started. By keeping these general principles in mind, you can proactively avoid common pitfalls that could compromise the quality of your agency’s deliverables while strengthening your relationship with them to fully leverage their core competencies and expertise.

Establish a single point of contact. Never stop engaging. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

  • Establish a single point of contact. To paraphrase an old saying, “no one can serve two masters.” This is especially true when more than one person provides your agency with feedback, direction, or approval throughout the course of a project. When an agency receives input from multiple stakeholders, at different points in time, the probability for confusion and errors increases – especially when comments are contradictory or even conflicting. These types of scenarios often lead to scope creep or the need for rework due to disconnects and mix-ups.

    When the responses your agency receives from a single point of contact are cohesive and clear, projects flow smoothly and efficiently. Deliverables are on-point, and their level of effectiveness is much greater than what they would have been otherwise.

  • Never stop engaging. It is not uncommon for projects that start strong to stall or languish if derailed. When protracted project delays turn into long hiatuses, it is easy for you and your agency to lose your train of thought and the mental momentum collectively built up over time.

    To help your agency deliver its best work, keep projects moving as much as possible. Even when the project you are working on drops to a lower priority due to events beyond anyone’s control, it is better to keep it creeping along than to freeze progress altogether. The key to preserving the quality of any engagement, and receiving the most effective outcome, is to stay in the ballgame for all nine innings and avoid excessively long seventh-inning stretches.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. The heaviest lifting in most engagements is the quest for knowledge, context, and expectations. While it may seem like these efforts to gain a deep understanding from the outset are a time drain, they turn out to be time savers, and a means to get the most from your agency.

    Communication is the linchpin that keeps harmonious and effective client-agency relationships together. Frequently communicating with your agency ensures that your perceptions are aligned with their interpretations (of what you are thinking). When your agency lacks the critical information needed to make their next move, chances of them guessing wrong increases when the decisions they make are based on assumptions, speculations, and conjecture – instead of facts.

    While there will always be questions or need for clarification along the way in any project, the use of project briefs, project management, iterative feedback, and management of expectations should help keep guesswork to a minimum.

    • Project briefs.  Agencies do their best work when they have sufficient information to chew on. While not all companies use project briefs, you should share as many answers to the questions below as possible with your agency in whatever format you feel most comfortable. Remember that the better educated your agency is before the start of a project, the more satisfied you will be with the results once implemented. Even if you have been working with your agency for years, or think the answers are so obvious that they are not worth questioning … do so anyway. You might be surprised with the clarifying questions they trigger, and the number of assumptions you realize needs reconsideration.

      To dramatically improve the outcome of any initiative “question everything generally thought to be obvious” DIETER RAMS because “there is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. The worst that could happen is that you confirm what everyone already knew. The best that could happen might change the trajectory of your results.

      1. When is the assignment due? Is it a self-contained effort or part of a larger initiative? 
      2. What problem are you trying to address? Or what opportunity are you trying to capitalize on? What caused this problem/opportunity?
      3. What are you trying to achieve? What are you trying to change?
      4. Could you describe your target audience in a way you would describe your best friend? (Go beyond, company, title, industry, and get into motivations, frustrations, and aspirations within the context of a “job” to be accomplished).
      5. Do you have an idea of what the approach, solution, or deliverable should look like? (Your agency is not asking you to do their work. However, they do want to take into consideration things you feel strongly about.)
      6. What points would you like made if the target audience remembered nothing more than one, two, or three things, from the initiative?
      7. How would you define success? What metrics would be used to measure your definition of success? How would a successful outcome look like compared to the way things look like now?
      8. Is there a budget you need to stay within? (A broad range would be sufficient.)
    • Project management. Project management is often taken for granted or not valued as highly as the final deliverable until something goes wrong. (Similar to taking electricity for granted until nothing happens when you flip a switch).

      Skipping project management and preparation may reduce the price of a project, but potentially at the expense of a higher cost. The reason being – not spending the needed time to think through or discuss a project before implementation forces discoveries to be made along the way. Thorough planning and collaboration enable your agency to maximize potential opportunities or prevent possible pitfalls.

      The two greatest benefits to creating and managing a project plan are the 1) forethought that goes into it, and the 2) ongoing reporting that comes out of it.

      The forethought needed to think through each stage of development enables project managers to proactively troubleshoot potential problems and mentally play out alternative approaches in advance of their execution. The continuous monitoring that goes into the status update reports enables project managers to discover potential problems or new opportunities early enough in the process to act with minimal if any, disruption.

      The purpose of project management is to ensure delivery to spec, on time, and within budget. However, its real value is in the discoveries made in mid-flight, and the corrections or enhancements executed midstream.
      While course corrections can be made successfully under any condition, the amount of time and effort that goes into making them is much less when recognized early, or in advance of an incident.

    • Iterative feedback. Feedback is an essential part of effective communication. If your agency does not deliver exactly what you first imagined after the first attempt, they could only get it right after they have your feedback to factor into future iterations.

      For feedback to be effective, it needs to be actionable and specific. Telling your agency that you don’t like what you see, for example, is only helpful when your agency understands what you don’t like about it and what needs to be changed. Articulating what you dislike is not always easy to do. Sometimes it is just a gut feel. Other times, you can’t put your finger on what you do not like about it, but you do know something just seems off. However, a workaround to this conundrum may be as easy as providing examples of things you do like. The more guidance you can give to your agency, the fewer iterations it will take for them to capture what you first imagined.

    • Management of expectations.  You may not be satisfied with your agency if the expectations you expressed are not met. Client satisfaction often exceeds the criteria of meeting project specifications (e.g., ranking higher on search engine results pages but not appearing on the first page of Google for all search terms – even those that were not included in the program).

      This is why it is important for your agency to know your expectations prior to launching a project (see number 7 above). By telling your agency what you anticipate in advance, along with your baseline stats, your agency could determine how feasible your expectations are to achieve, and if they are even attainable (e.g., add one million new customers in a week to a current base of 1,000 existing customers that took three years to acquire). Depending on the circumstances, your agency could even develop a new strategy and take a different approach to attain your goals – even if the original expectations were not possible.

      After providing your agency with success metrics they believe are attainable, they would help determine how results could be measured numerically and definitively. Defining KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) ahead of time gives clarity to your partnership and allows you to recognize real success when it happens. Should you find that the project is not performing as predicted, you and your agency will have precise data for course corrections.

The chances of getting the most from your agency are based on how much you expect, relative to what they can deliver. Setting realistic and clear expectations is the key to realizing them.

Getting the most value from your digital marketing agency does take some effort, but not more than making the most of any professional services partner.

For suggestions specific to your situation on ways to get more from your digital marketing agency, feel free to contact us at 847-768-0018 or info@paradigm-il.com.

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