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As digital marketing agency strategists, we are constantly working to bring our clients the performance that they need so we can remain in a mutually beneficial partnership together. At times, this partnership comes naturally. Other times, it can be a struggle. The biggest part of that struggle can simply be understanding what the client wants from us. Many times, it’s not as complicated as we make it out to be. Here are the top requests that I consistently see clients ask of their agency and how to deliver them.
As marketers, many of us have learned about taking the “consultative approach” in our client work, but what does this sentiment MEAN? Instead of getting caught up in the terminology, I like to boil it down to:
“What can you provide the client that they can’t provide for themselves?”
Many clients can find someone to upload ads and run campaigns, but it’s not as easy to find someone who can critically think about their industry, business, and account. They want someone who can provide insightful recommendations on features, platforms, campaign types, and the myriad of other opportunities within the digital marketing world. They need someone who can say, “I recommend” followed by sound reasoning why you’re making that recommendation. They want someone who calls out performance shifts and why they happened before they notice it themselves.
Anyone can deliver the news, but a consultative marketer will seek to understand it and take action.
One of the most common pieces of feedback I’ve heard from clients is that they depend on their agency to formulate a solid strategy that is going to help them achieve their goals. A client should never have to ask for a strategy. It’s something their agency should automatically provide once they’ve learned the account and understood their obstacles.
Oftentimes, we talk heavily about our progress toward hitting goals, but neglect detailing the strategy behind it. We are doing ourselves an injustice because we are not showing our clients the thought process behind our actions and not allowing them the ability to buy into it and provide feedback. A lack of strategy, or a lack of communicating the strategy, can make a client feel like there’s not a lot of thought behind the spending of their valuable ad dollars, which can lead to seeking another agency.
Most brands want to grow. With that said, there’s no room for assumptions here. Even if your client has provided you with the same exact budget month after month, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t open to growth. Sometimes they need to be led to that conclusion by an industry expert. That’s where you come in (cue the Barenaked Ladies If I Had A Million Dollars song right now).
Though it’s time-consuming, proactively drawing out a growth plan for a brand – even if they haven’t asked for one – is a good way to get the conversation started. Putting together a few slides that show opportunity within their current platforms plus anything new that you deem valuable can really get the wheels turning. You won’t win it every time, but I’ve had many experiences where showing potential growth opportunities along with projected impact has inspired brands to find additional budget to allocate.
As industry experts, it is our job to learn about all of the new platforms and features that are available to our clients. When something new comes up that might be a good fit for your client, you should proactively recommend testing and follow-up with insights and learnings from that test. Good or bad, there is always something to be learned from testing. And even if the client disagrees and declines your recommendation to test, it is still important to be the one to inform the client about that new platform or feature. You never want to be on the receiving end of a call where the client says, “My boss just asked me why we never tested xyz.”
It’s great to tell a client on a kick-off call that your goal is to become an extension of their internal marketing team, but you need to follow through with actions that align with this statement. That means learning beyond their account and truly gaining an understanding of their business. That also means asking the client questions that go beyond your “need to know” knowledge. For example, instead of just knowing that you need to generate leads for a client, take that to the next level and ask the client to walk you through the exact process of what happens to a lead once it enters their system. Ask for feedback on the leads you’re generating from their sales department so you can assess quality. Taking these steps can be a springboard to productive conversations that can better help you manage the account.
Also, as we’ve seen through the current pandemic, a situation can change for a client overnight. As their partner, be there to help them pivot quickly where they need to as they adjust to their new normal. Provide the level of support that goes beyond that of a vendor. Be the true partner who promised on the kick-off call to function as an extension of their internal marketing team.
While this breakdown certainly isn’t inclusive of every single request a client wants from their agency, it definitely covers what I hear the most in my client interactions. The best part is that all of the above items can work together to help you achieve that feeling of true partnership that both you and your client seek to achieve.
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