By Bullseye Strategy Staff
Relationships take work. You know this is true in love, but sometimes we forget that it’s also true in business. At Bullseye Strategy, we take commitment to heart. In fact, our tenure with clients is more than double the industry standard. We credit this to our great service and our demonstrated results, but also to our extensive brand-side experience; since we’ve stood in our clients’ shoes, we have the unique ability to see things from our client’s point of view.
We asked the members of our leadership team for their best pieces of relationship advice as it relates to their clients. Here’s what they had to offer:
1. Talk the Talk.
The importance of communication is undeniable; it’s the crux of any relationship. Within the brand-agency partnership, however, there are specific benefits to open, frequent and clear communication, which include:
A sense of trust: Trust takes time to build, but it can crumble with a single misstep. That’s why it’s important that both parties maintain clear and timely communication. Agencies must be straightforward about their fee structures, deadlines for completion and even the viability of third-party services.
Of course, trust goes both ways. Brands must keep their doors open in order for communication to flow. We’ve seen the best success when our client invites us to act as an extension of their marketing team, which promotes a constant stream of communication.
Clear expectations: Part of the trust that develops between the client and agency is a result of setting clear expectations. For brands, this means effectively communicating their vision, which can be done visually, audibly or in written form. Some might develop their own creative brief to express the identity of their brand, while others may use a vision board or customer personas. A simple roadmap of upcoming goals and milestones is useful, as well. Regardless of how it’s communicated, the message needs to be cohesive, above all.
Agencies, too, must set expectations by getting in front of the most common client questions about pricing, processes, and metrics. Being transparent about fees and deadlines is an obvious way to define certain standards. But agencies shouldn’t take for granted the value of communicating key performance indicators. Keeping clients abreast of KPIs at the beginning, middle and end of a digital marketing campaign is one of the best ways an agency can set – and maintain – expectations.
Transparency: During a 2017 Advertising Week panel, “Agencies, Clients and the Need for Trust,” one panelist insightfully remarked, “In the business of communication, if we can’t communicate among ourselves, how can we think to be able to communicate to all those people we’re trying to convince to buy our products?” We couldn’t agree more–and what this really comes down to is complete transparency on both sides.
A brand must be able to comfortably – and comprehensively – communicate their needs to the agency. This includes negative feedback. Otherwise, their needs will never be met and the needs of their customers will never be realized. It’s a trickle-down effect that can have costly ramifications.
We make it a point to constantly ask our clients what they need, so we can accurately execute on their goals. By the same token, we expect you to hear us when we push back. Open communication sometimes means saying “no” when a client’s request is at odds with best practices or long-term business goals.
2. Adopt the mantra: “One team, one dream.”
Brands know their product or service better than anyone. But agencies are engaged to bring digital expertise to the table to market that product or service. For these two great minds to think alike, they need a unifier. That’s where “one team, one dream” comes in. This mindset helps harmonize two competing schools of thought. It’s the same reason opposites attract. They realize their differences complement each other. As a result, the two are better together than apart.
Brands and agencies can act much the same way. Brands bring to the table deep knowledge of their product or service, as well as what they know about their customer. In turn, the agency delivers an overarching marketing strategy and the necessary tools to support it. This combined effort results in the brand and agency working as one whole unit rather than two separate entities – one team, one dream.
At Bullseye Strategy, we do rely on our clients to provide the product insight and clearly communicate their vision. We pair that with best-in-class technology and a fully customized digital marketing strategy to make your company’s happily-ever-after happen.
3. Spend quality time together.
In a personal relationship, quality time together is an opportunity to learn more about your significant other. This is when you find out where they’re from, get a glimpse at their favorite hobbies and hear about their hopes and dreams. It’s not that much different from the initial meetings between a brand and agency.
When we’re still in that getting-to-know you phase, we always request in-depth interviews with our client’s chief stakeholders. These conversations offer a number of benefits to the brand and to us. For one, they help us better understand our client’s core values. It also helps to have a grasp on the brand’s history, including what has worked and what has failed. This information will dictate critical pieces of the marketing strategy, including the brand’s identity, the tone of content, and creative imagery.
Just like it does in a marriage, the definition of “quality time” evolves the longer we’ve been partnered with a brand. We realize you have a busy schedule, and we will respect that by coming to the table with a proactive strategy.
4. Never take the relationship for granted.
Ever been in a relationship rut? Often, the reason couples get stuck is that both sides expect unwavering loyalty. But the truth is, people change and you have to change with them. Consider the agency that simply duplicates their marketing strategy from one client to the next, treating all brands the same. Companies that tolerate this won’t get the results they want, because the agency’s marketing efforts never address their unique needs. If this isn’t grounds for a breakup, what is?
Don’t be fooled, though. An agency has just as much walk-away power. Imagine a client that refuses to adapt to mobile devices. Ignoring customer demands not only limits the brand’s ability to grow their business, but it hampers the agency’s ability to perform. If the agency can’t innovate, they can’t effectively deliver on their strategy.
At Bullseye Strategy, we’re in it for the long-haul. Our tenure lasts twice as long as the industry average, because we never take for granted the partnership we have with our clients. We create customized solutions that are constantly fine-tuned to meet your needs and the needs of your customer.
Put in the work.
The brand-agency relationship is a lot like a personal partnership. For the bond to last, both sides must communicate effectively, work as a single unit, respect each other’s time and accept that change is inevitable. It may take a little extra effort, but you’ll love the results.
If you’re ready for a committed partnership that takes your digital marketing strategy to the next level, give us a call today.