Successful Inbound Marketing Agency Relationship 5 Must-Haves
Maximize the Success of Your Relationship With an Inbound Marketing Agency
If inbound marketing is an important part of your 2012 marketing strategy, you have two options. You can handle it entirely through your internal resources. Or, you can supplement your staff with an inbound marketing agency.
Since inbound marketing is a very big part of what we do for our clients, I want to offer an objective view on how a marketing executive should engage an inbound marketing agency to ensure it’s a mutually successful relationship. I’m making only one assumption. And, that is that the inbound marketing agency you select has the capabilities you need.
Long Term Commitment
The first aspect of a successful relationship with your inbound marketing agency is to commit to a long term relationship. If that scares you, “go on a date first” by engaging the agency for a small project such as a website audit or a strategic inbound marketing plan. Such projects can range from 3 weeks to 3 months. This honeymoon period allows you to gain an understanding of the inbound marketing agency’s talents, processes, deliverables and overall work ethic. Then, if all went well you should be ready to commit to not less than a one year working relationship. Inbound marketing takes consistent effort and teamwork. Results should be measured monthly and quarterly. We have some clients with whom we’ve worked as long as five years.
360 Degree View of Your Marketing Plans
I can tell you from firsthand experience that as an inbound marketing agency the last thing we want to learn about is a marketing event or campaign you just launched. Your inbound marketing agency should know all elements of your marketing plans in advance. We call this a 360 degree view of your marketing plans. We want to know your direct mail plans, your email marketing plans, your tradeshow plans, your advertising plans, your public appearances at trade events, etc. And, we especially want to know all your PR plans, particularly planned press releases. Inbound marketing is tightly integrated (or at least it should be) into all aspects of a corporate marketing plan. Integrating your inbound marketing agency with a 360 degree view of your marketing strategy facilitates successful integrated marketing among all facets of your marketing plan for best possible results.
An inbound marketing agency should be considered a member of your marketing team. And, just as employees sitting side by side with you, a collaborative spirit is needed for a productive relationship. Idea sharing, authentic communication, responsive communication and feedback are important. As such, if you retain multiple marketing agencies such as PR, advertising, etc., consider having all your agencies in regular status meetings. Each agency should deliver updates on their respective deliverables and next steps. And, each agency should have a collaborative spirit with each other to work together toward the client’s goals. It is the client’s responsibility to initiate the communication among the agencies. But, it is the responsibility of each agency to work together collaboratively. We’ve seen this work beautifully with great results when it’s executed as described here.
Well Defined Scope
Anytime a marketing executive retains the services of a marketing agency, there should always be a well defined scope agreed to by both parties. Each party has a responsibility. The agency needs to ensure they didn’t take on more than they can handle in the financial arrangement. Otherwise, they will become unhappy and eventually there will be tension. The client’s responsibility is to be realistic about the scope and not ask their agency to take on more than the defined scope without agreeing to incremental fees. One of the least desirable conversations for any agency to initiate is the “your request is out of scope” conversation. If that happens too often, either the agency missed the mark in defining the scope, or the client is asking for more than the defined scope. A well documented scope on the front end that is understood by the client’s management and the staff is important for a healthy and successful relationship with your inbound marketing agency.
Win-Win-Win is a Must
The primary purpose of an inbound marketing agency is to deliver measurable results for its client. Obviously, the client needs to win otherwise there was no value. But, there are two other parties that need to also win. The marketing executive who made the decision to contract the services of the inbound marketing agency should also win. He or she wants to demonstrate to their boss (and their staff) that they made a good decision in their selection. At Find and Convert we always say we have two clients – the business entity and the marketing executive that chose to contract our services. The third winner should be the inbound marketing agency. We’re running a business. We have financial needs like any other business. And, we also need reference-able clients to win future business. When this win-win-win attitude is in place from the start, great things happen for all three parties in the relationship.
Selecting an inbound marketing agency can be a daunting task for a marketing executive. The decision you make can make you look great or terrible. Keep these 5 guidelines in mind during your decision process and you’ll have a much greater chance of having a successful relationship with your inbound marketing agency. If you have other suggestions, please add them in the comments below.