Ten recommendations to get the best from your digital agency partner.
We are deeply appreciative of the opportunities clients offer us to collaborate on interesting digital marketing challenges. Many ask us to partner with them to consider new ways to create and produce even better, more efficient results this coming year. Often the best ideas, work product, and results come out of the best relationships. Consider these ideas to help your agency relationships last longer, run more smoothly, and maximize the positive impact you can expect from your digital agency.
Let us help you in the budget process before it's set in stone. Things change so quickly in online marketing that it's dangerous to start with last year's budget to set this year's budget. Unfortunately, that is often the process. We can, however, help you set what is possible within certain budget ranges and steer you to the most effective vehicles based on your goals.
Ask - no, insist - that your various agency partners come together early in any collaborative project to ensure a common understanding of project goals and each agency's role. In our experience, it's not a good idea to assign a "lead agency" that may be tempted to keep pieces they shouldn't, overestimate their own expertise in particular areas, or underplay another's contribution. If you manage the coordination from corporate, then allegiance and accountability stay where they belong - with you and your goals.
Minimize speculative investments from agencies that have already earned your business over time. If we have great ideas it's because we've been thinking hard about your business. That's valuable to you. Allow agencies moderate compensation for the resources and talents they invest to do that on a regular basis and you'll be surprised at the return on that investment. Not least of which is the energy and motivation that will be generated within the agency when they know you value their contribution.
Include your digital agency at the strategy table. While your traditional agency may still be tasked with strategy and direction for the year, it's quite likely that tactical elements will tip heavily toward interactive. This, as you know, has been a growing trend, and your digital partners are best able to identify connections and opportunities that you don't want to miss. They are skilled at extending traditional marketing programs into online because the gravity of marketing dollars has, in the past, flowed from a gush of traditional marketing or advertising dollars down to a trickle of digital dollars. As digital budgets expand and as we see more and more brands or companies defined first by the digital strategy, this seat at the table will become even more critical. Insist that your digital partners invest just as much in your business to learn your industry and competitive set or they will not be effective in that strategy role.
Have your agency present best practices on a regular basis to you and your team. This way you can tap into the 24/7 immersion that the digital agency can afford and must invest in while you take care of all the other business you must attend.
Figure out who's handling social media for your company internally. This has absolutely got to be the year you figure it out if you haven't already. It will be much more efficient if your agency knows the guidelines and parameters with which you are comfortable and who within the organization leads the effort.
Share what you know about performance, trends, research, and other insider knowledge including data. Full information will empower your agency to produce the best possible results on your behalf.
Allow your agency to take credit when it's due. Public and approved site launches or case studies are important to an agency's growth. While you may think you want to be their only client, in reality you want them to continue to grow and prosper so they can reinvest in technology, new staff, new services, training, and other positive changes for which you will reap the benefit as their loyal, longtime client.
Be available. We know you're busy and so are we. We're trying to work on your behalf and sometimes need timely guidance or response from you. We definitely need face time and regular contact so that we can continue to evolve our thinking and stay in sync with yours.
Do not allow corporate budget pressures to reduce your agency relationship to a commodity procurement analysis driving to least cost. Agency negotiations are a fact of life, but your primary consideration in an agency partner must clearly be their ability to contribute to your business growth.
Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.
Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ, internet.com, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.