Three secrets to a successful client/agency relationship
One of the best questions I’ve been asked by a client is, ‘How do I get the most value out of working with you?’
A successful client/agency relationship will help you meet your targets, work more efficiently and showcase your department’s capabilities. Intangibles like chemistry are crucial, but to use the agency effectively you have to have certain processes in place.
1. Set clear, measureable goals
Both sides need to know what success looks like, so everyone has the same expectations of what you’re going to achieve for the budget. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. So objectives like ‘boost brand profile’ aren’t enough. Do five features in business magazines constitute ‘a boost’? What about a 50 per cent increase in website visits? Or 300 new Twitter followers?
If you establish all of this together at the outset, the agency can be accountable and you have the evidence to demonstrate a return on your investment.
For example, one of our clients, Nature’s Feast, is the UK’s top manufacturer of wild bird food. The company wanted to expand its presence in the media to support its sales and marketing strategy. Together we set a goal of achieving 33 pieces of PR coverage over 12 months. By the end of the year the marketing manager could point to 65 pieces of coverage, including being featured as a ‘top buy’ in more than 20 consumer titles.
2. Work collaboratively at every stage of the project
The agency/client relationship is most successful when the agency acts as an extension of your in-house team. A common pitfall is to think, ‘I won’t get the agency involved on this project element because I don’t want to “waste” my monthly time allocation.’ This mindset wastes opportunity because your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing.
Working closely together leads to measureable results. SELEX ES, a division of Finmeccanica, markets communication, navigation, entertainment and security technology for superyachts. At a monthly meeting, the head of engineering happened to mention that they had a new flexible broadband package. We recommended they send a promotional email about the package just prior to a major boat show. The email generated $500,000 worth of enquiries. This wasn’t something SELEX ‘planned’ to get us involved in, but because we had open lines of communication we capitalised on a major opportunity.
3. Take advantage of all the agency’s skills
The beauty of using an agency is that it’s a cost-effective way to access skills you don’t have in-house. Because you have offline, online, PR and creative expertise at your fingertips, you have wonderful flexibility when it comes seizing opportunities and using your budget to greatest effect.
For example, we developed a social media strategy for manufacturer BSC Diecasting & Finishing. An element of that strategy involved building links with the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), a key industry organisation, via Twitter. As a result of this new relationship, the MAS asked BSC to comment in one of its press releases.
The comment led to a segment on BBC Midlands Today featuring a site visit and an interview with BSC’s chairman. The segment commanded average viewing figures of over 1.2 million. In the three days following the broadcast, BSC’s website saw a 175 per cent increase in traffic.
In other words, what started off in our social media team brought in our PR team. The website element involved our digital team, with everyone collaborating to leverage BSC’s new visibility to best effect.
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