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Occasionally we write blog posts where multiple people contribute. Since our idea of having a gladiator arena where contributors would fight to the death to win total authorship wasn’t approved by HR, this was the compromise.
True story: my colleague was preparing a launch video for one of Silicon Valley's tech giants, and when they were 90% done, their project manager finally showed the clients the almost-complete version of the final deliverable. The clients said they hated it. It wasn't what they wanted. Change it or else. The marketing management was a disaster on so many levels: the team wasted time working on something the clients didn't want, the project manager failed the team by waiting until the 11th hour to ask for client feedback, and the clients waited for something they could've easily outsourced to a different, more communicative agency. As it stood, the team was able to pull some last-minute all-nighters to get the video up to the client's standards. But it was a close call. And yet, this is a situation that is all too common in any creative services organization. So how can a marketing agency manage client expectations better, and avoid such stressful situations? The simplest answer: nurture your client relationship like you would a sweetheart. Here are 3 ways to treat your clients like your sweetheart (and win big in your clients' eyes). 1. Get to Know Them How do relationships start? You get to know the other person. You go out on a date and find out what movies he likes, what hobbies she's into, what he's all about, what values she believes in. If you ever hope to serve your client to the best of your ability, then you have to know what motivates them and what they hope to accomplish. That means investing time to meet your clients face to face, take them outside of the office for drinks, and discover why they do what they do. Insights like these will help you understand where they're coming from when they ask for revisions to your project, or if you get into difficult standoffs about project direction. 2. Communicate Constantly We all know relationships don't work without constant communication. You have to call/text/Snapchat your better half, tell her you miss her, and talk about your day so that you can stay involved in each other's lives, even when you're apart. Managing clients properly means seeking client feedback early and often. You collaborate with your client in an ongoing process to produce something you and the client can both be proud of. By keeping them in the loop you avoid surprises, and you feel like you've accomplished something together as opposed to handing off a completed project as part of a one-sided relationship. By proactively sharing status updates with a project management tool like Wrike, you can also head off persistent “checking in” messages. Clients see how a project is developing at every stage, can look in on progress whenever they want, and are able to give you their insight as needed. This transparent communication will reassure your client. 3. Give Them Something They Want When birthdays and holidays come around and you want to give a gift to proclaim your love, do you give something cheap and generic? Absolutely not. You have to find out what he really wants and then to the best of your ability (and budget) you get it customized with his name, or find something that’s just the right look. Managing a client’s expectations is the same. Ideally your marketing project will have a clearly defined scope and a list of very specific deliverables that the clients have agreed upon. Your job as an agency is to deliver exactly what they want — on time and under budget. Solicit client feedback early and often so slight adjustments can be made throughout the process. The end result should be a deliverable that's exactly what they were looking for. Show your appreciation this Valentine's Day With Valentine's Day just around the corner, take this opportunity to express your appreciation for your clients' business. But more than that, take the appropriate steps to make the relationship work long-term. That means excellent communication skills and excellent service. Read Next:Project Manager from Hell [Slideshare]4 Strategies for Dealing with Difficult Stakeholders
As an entrepreneur, you pour your heart and soul into your business and do everything you can to help it grow. Building your product, team, service models and customer base takes all your focus, and it can be difficult to know what to prioritize. But whether you’re a brand new startup or an established business, continuing to build your brand is always of vital importance. At amoCRM, we rely on marketing efforts to cut through the fierce competition within the Bay Area. Finding the right marketing agency, however, turned out to be a challenge. We needed an agency that tended to each and every lead, like we do with our own customers. We’re sharing the lessons we learned on our quest to find the perfect marketing agency, to save you from conducting your own wild goose chase. Starting Our Search Living in the Google era, we started our search for marketing agencies online, selecting 20 agencies with the best Google Ads. We knew we’d ultimately have to narrow our search to 5 agencies, but selecting 20 to start with gave us a nice pool of options. We began with Google Ads for a very pragmatic reason: agencies that allocate funds to quality Google Ads are more invested in pursuing every lead. We reached out to each and every one of these 20 agencies, either by direct mail or via their web forms. We provided them with a short introduction to our company and shared our brand strategy and development plan. We had a very rough notion of our marketing timeframe, goals, and budget, but we were far from a concrete marketing strategy. 30% of the agencies we reached out to never replied, either because they didn’t consider us a valuable lead, or they simply hadn’t invested in CRM software to help them track potential leads, we’ll never know. But that helped us narrow down our search and come one step closer to our perfect partnership. We also disqualified one agency due to the fact that their web form was disabled, and their contact details were difficult to find. Evaluating Marketing Agencies The remaining 70% of agencies that did answer our inquiry actually responded pretty quickly. Within a week, client directors and CEOs were reaching out to us, which really fluffed our feathers, so to speak. They all wanted to set up phone calls or face-to-face meetings. No generic proposals attached to a price list were thrown our way—we were genuinely impressed by their desire to get personal and find out all the details of our business goals before coming up with a plan. They all demonstrated the detailed attention to leads that we were searching for. In our own business, the follow up is as important as the first contact. Unfortunately, we never heard back from four of our “impressive” agencies. We can’t be sure if they forgot about us, lost track of their leads, or simply deemed us unworthy of future efforts, but as the saying goes, every kick in the butt is a step forward. The next step involved a lot of phone calls, talking to each and every agency that was still in the race and even meeting with some of their representatives. We wanted our vision to be perfectly reflected in the brand strategy and development, and after all our questions were asked and answered, we were able to move forward with 6 agencies. This number represents 30% of our initial “Google Ads” list. Each of these agencies presented us with an exceptionally creative and well-executed marketing proposal, Three out of these 6 actually pursued our decision within a week. This is the level of dedication and attention that we were looking for. Two agencies followed up more than twice to learn our decision, and soon after, we found our perfect match with one of these agencies. 4 Tips for Finding the Right Marketing Agency for Your Business 1. What’s their track record? Past results say a lot about a business, so the more you can find out about what the marketing agency accomplished for others, the more you can envision what they can do for you. A marketing agency that’s proud of its work and results should make case studies, analytics, or other metrics available to potential clients. 2. Communicate your budget from the start Marketing is a creative industry, and developing a marketing plan without a clear budget in sight can be the downfall of any partnership. Don’t be ashamed of your budget, not matter how small it is. You never know where lighting might strike! You could always be referred to another agency that turns out to be your diamond in the rough. 3. Get ready to talk …and talk and talk and talk! Keeping the lines of communication open is critical to enabling a marketing agency to design a proposal customized to your needs and goals. Look for an agency that’s just as curious about you as you are about them. 4. What’s their commitment? A marketing partnership is not a short-term relationship. Therefore, you don’t just want to partner with an agency that you like and does great work, but also an agency you can rely on to take your calls, answer your questions, and address your concerns about your marketing strategy plan. You can evaluate their level of commitment by paying close attention to the effort the agency puts in during the sales process. Are they quick to respond to inquiries? Do they follow up with you? Finding the right marketing agency can be a lengthy process, but remember: settling for less is not an option. Your brand is the key to your business’ success and what distinguishes you from competitors, which is why you need a marketing agency that understands where you’re coming from. Finding the right agency might just be the most important business decision you make. Author Bio Jen Anders is a marketing manager at amoCRM, a web-based CRM tool for small businesses.
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