The relationship between a client and their marketing agency is reminiscent of that of a child and parent. The marketing agency, taking on the role of the parent, must be fully prepared to nurture and guide.
Think back to when you were a moody teenager arriving home to be met with the usual, “what did you do in school today?” from one of your parents. You probably responded back with a brief shrug and the standard “nothing”.
As an adult, you now understand that your parents weren’t trying to be nosy or annoying. You know that they asked questions like this because they cared and wanted to give you the best advice possible.
This is exactly the role of a marketing agency. We need to ask questions in order to tailor our strategies to produce the best results.
Online marketing changes everyday, and has changed significantly within the last few years. As if it isn’t difficult enough to keep up with all of this, we began to notice issues within our internal processes. The problem was that we have been creating and implementing new processes, but were still trying to shove bits of the old processes into the new ones. It was like trying to combine two puzzles into one. It simply didn’t work and it didn’t make any sense.
As with most agencies, the first step of our process is to better understand our clients. To do this we had created questionnaires, asking clients about everything from their business name and goals, to their most successful products or services. A major issue here was that each department had different questionnaires – one for content, a few for design, several for SEO, etc.
As you know, the world of online marketing is becoming much more collaborative in regards to the efforts between these departments, and we realized that our processes needed to reflect that.
What We Did to Fix It
So we sat down with all of our questionnaires, a representative from each department, and our thinking caps and began to consolidate. We realized that several of the questionnaires overlapped between departments, and a few departments had great questions that others could benefit from.
Why We Did It
One of the greatest challenges most companies today face is a lack of communication. Too often, we assume what is/isn’t expected of our clients or ourselves. In my experience, about 99% of the time, assuming leads to an error. By taking the time to come together and work collaboratively on improving our internal process, I am willing to bet that we will save countless hours and headaches in the future.
And so our “Getting To Know You” survey, coined by our very own Lisa Sherman, was born. While we admit the form is a bit extensive, we feel that it’s an absolute necessity at this stage of the game. Real online marketing consultants can no longer get away with asking the bare minimum of their clients. In order to produce better results, this is a step we must take.
Our intention is to have our new clients fill out the form as thoroughly as possible and return it within 7 days. In doing this, we feel we’ve given our clients enough time to review the questions and answer carefully and thoughtfully. We do not intend to have clients do this in a single, fifteen-minute sitting. We actually suggest they break it up and perhaps take a few days before returning it. We’ve also included notes within the survey that encourage the client to contact us with questions or concerns they may have in regards to the form.
Once The Form is Completed and Returned
Of course, the work doesn’t end when the client sends the form back. It is actually just beginning. At that point, a representative from each department receives a copy of the form, reviews, and meets for a brief session. If there are questions remaining or necessary clarifications, we contact the client.
Testing and Evaluation
Like anything in design and SEO, we at Optimum7 like to test just about everything to understand whether or not it is successful. This is the reason we asked our very own CEO to fill out our new (somewhat epic) Getting To Know You survey.
We asked for this for two main reasons. First, we wanted to get a better idea of how long it would take to fill out the form. The second was to evaluate the ease of the questions. I can’t tell you how many times throughout my career I’ve sent out a questionnaire, only to receive a half-filled out form in return. After reviewing, we found that the problem with our old forms was that they were perhaps too technical, too lengthy, or too confusing. By testing out the form on Arthur, a business owner just like any potential Optimum7 client, we felt we could better gauge both its effectiveness and the likelihood that we’d receive a completed form.
Setting The Tone
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve put this form together for several reasons. The first, of course, is to refine our processes to make them as efficient as possible. This is something we constantly find ourselves doing. Personally, I think that is an excellent trait to have. Do you want a company who simply works and completes tasks? Or do you want a company who is constantly reassessing data, restructuring processes, and striving for better results? I certainly hope you’d choose the latter.
The second is to set the right tone for new clients. By asking our new clients to fill out a form this detailed, it starts them off on the right foot. They can see that we clearly have put a great deal of effort into creating this questionnaire, and that their answers will determine the custom marketing strategy we craft for them. They also will better understand how important their input is in this process, and how they must participate in order to produce the best outcome.
Setting the Right Expectations
I’ll admit, even as we created this form, we were worried about our clients becoming intimidated by the sheer length of it. This is understandable.
However, as I mentioned before, a client-agency relationship is one that requires quite a bit of nurturing and effort on both sides. This is exactly what we explain to our clients, from the very beginning. We even include this type of information in our proposals in a “client responsibilities” section. In addition, this is a piece of information that needs to be repeated and reinforced every step of the way, starting with the sales process.
What Happens When Your Clients Don’t Want To Fill Out The Form?
Of course, you can pour your heart and soul into a process, and there will still be outliers who refuse to take it seriously. For these clients, I recommend using an example like the following:
Imagine that you are an amazing, Nobel Prize winning physicist, and you’d like to have someone write a biography about your life, detailing your childhood, schooling, etc.
I imagine you’d put a great deal of effort into finding the right person for this job. You’d want them to have expertise in their field and perhaps several other excellent biographies in their portfolio. When you finally feel you’ve found someone who possesses all of these qualities, you sign the papers and are excited to start this new project.
At this point which of the following scenarios do you expect to take place?
Your new author and his or her team contacts you, introductions are made, and the research process begins with thorough interviews on your history, the goals for the book, etc.
The author goes AWOL, and allegedly begins writing the book without so much as asking the correct spelling of your name.
Obviously, you’d want scenario A to take place. You’d want the author to know so much about your experiences that he or she can properly communicate with your audience.
So why would a client feel any differently about their marketing agency?
Again, think back to your school years. Did your teachers ever assign you homework? Of course, they did. Did you ever really enjoy doing all of that homework? Probably not. The teacher’s intention was not to make you suffer by assigning homework. The purpose of the homework was to make you achieve better results. The Getting to Know You Form holds a similar purpose.
It is our job to know you, your company, and your brand inside and out so we can properly communicate with your audience, just like the author in the previous example.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something that we can do 100% on our own. It is going to take up a sizeable chunk of a client’s time – particularly in the initial stages of the relationship. This is why it is so important for clients to take the time, fill the form out correctly, and return it complete.
My point here is that this type of thorough input should not only be expected by clients, but welcome. Is it better to instead learn by trial and error? Of course not. Any agency worth its weight will stay with you, and make sure they understand everything about your company before moving forward. It may take time, but the long-term results are really what you should be after.
Are you looking for a marketing agency that will work with you to understand every facet of your company in order to best promote it? Contact Optimum7 today for a free consultation.