The relationships that we form with other people are an inherent part of being human. Some relationships stand the test of time while others become a distant memory. Relationships (good and bad) are not bound to our personal lives. Every day your interactions with coworkers, customers and other business contacts work towards building strong professional relationships today.
One of the larger investments that many organizations make today is in partnering with a digital marketing agency. The job of an agency is to understand who you are as a client and translate that message in a way that helps your brand better connect with target customers. Unfortunately, while 90% of agencies say they truly understand their client’s business, only 65% of clients agree.
Since the beginning, TopRank Marketing’s company mantra has always been “Client, Company, Community, Self”. Understanding what our clients do and what is important to them has been a driving force that has enabled us to deliver (and often over-deliver) results in a way that meets or exceeds client expectations. One of the most important elements that allows us to accomplish this is the relationships that we form with clients from the very beginning.
If your company is searching for an agency partner, look beyond the surface to ensure they possess the following traits that will help you get the most out of your investment.
1 – Strive to Set Clear Expectations
Setting expectations in terms of timelines, results or processes means less surprises down the line for you. This can provide a sense of predictability that helps you to feel in control and confident in the process.
When approaching search engine optimization, for example, it can be easy to assume that once you hire an agency your search engine rankings will be boosted overnight. In reality, website optimization is an ongoing process that can sometimes take several months to see notable results and is dependent on many factors. When an agency fails to address program expectations ahead of time, they risk leaving you feeling under-served or mislead. A great agency under promises, and over delivers.
2 – Offer Transparency & Authenticity
You should be able to rely on your digital agency to give you the expert advice and consultation that comes from their collective wisdom and years of marketing experience. Long gone are the days when agencies can expect that spurting marketing jargon and mumbo jumbo will leave clients impressed. A great marketing agency will educate you on every facet of their strategy, offer honest advice and admit when the topic has shifted outside of their expertise.
With an authentic and transparent digital agency at your side, you’ll feel a weight lifted off your shoulders knowing you can lean on them as true partners.
3 – Respect Your Time
Your workweek is booked, your inbox requires constant attention and you may sometimes find yourself scrambling to get your job duties completed. Any great digital agency will recognize that long-winded emails and unstructured meetings are inconsiderate of your time. Good partners will ensure meetings bring value to those involved and are respectful of your time by:
- Sharing agendas ahead of time,
- Sticking to the allotted time scheduled
- Avoiding tangents and off-topic conversations
- Concluding with next steps for each party
4 – Provide Top-Notch Communication
In today’s fast-moving digital marketing world, you don’t always the option of waiting a few days for an email response or returned call from your digital agency. To maintain great communication, your agency contact should be:
- Responding to emails and calls within 24 hours
- Sending a follow up email to reiterate next steps following each meeting
- Conducting quarterly check-ins with you to gather feedback on program performance and opportunities for improvement
When a digital agency can demonstrate this type of attentive and organized communication, you’ll feel confident in their ability to manage the various digital campaigns you’ve entrusted them with.
It’s easy to get comfortable shooting emails off from behind a desk, but there are definite times when a simple phone call will go a long way in building that agency/client relationship. Your digital agency account manager should not hesitate to give you a friendly call every once in a while to answer a quick question or provide a progress update.
5 – Form the Personal Connection
Sometimes everyone finds themselves getting sucked in to the tasks at hand, without taking a minute to step back and get to know the people they are working with. This leads to skipping the small talk, and getting right down to business.
Meaningful business relationships are fostered through conversation beyond the work-related task at hand. An invested agency contact will find ways to connect on a more personal level by asking how your day is going, or what your weekend plans are – not for the sake of small talk, but because they truly care.
6 – Suggest In-Person Meetings
Did you know that human contact releases hormones that act as neurotransmitters in the brain that build trust and bond? You can’t get that kind of science with a conference call.
In-person meetings allow us to observe and respond to facial expressions and body language, which builds stronger, more meaningful business relationships. In a world full of conference bridges and screen sharing, your agency should make an effort to meet with you in person – even if you’re located in different states.
An agency that’s willing to make the time and monetary investment to secure occasional in-person meetings is demonstrating their dedication to strengthening the agency/client relationship.
7 – They Advocate for You
At the end of the day, you should feel that your digital agency is working diligently towards your shared goals. There should be an understanding that they are your true marketing partners. A dedicated agency will commit to providing the level of service that exceeds your expectations, and provide compelling results that keep you coming back for more.
You know your agency “gets it” if they provide results and progress reports in a format that is easily shared and consumed by stakeholders at your company. That means less work translating reports to the higher-ups, and more time focusing on your responsibilities.
When you’re in search of a digital marketing agency, look for hints of these characteristics that indicate the level of respect, dedication and organization you’ll receive in the client/agency relationship.
On the hunt for a new agency that has these traits? Contact TopRank Online Marketing to learn how we can become your digital marketing partner.
Image via Shutterstock
Connor Rickett says
I’m pretty sure if you said water was wet only 90% of clients would agree, and half the remainder would ask if you could find a way to use less water, but make it “wetterery-ish”.
That said, building and maintaining relationships is critically important, and it’s much easier to do in person. I think that’s a great piece of advice, and it rarely creeps up on these guides on the internet–it’s a bit of a blind spot, really, and it’s good you pointed it out.