A former manager of mine used to say I was a great “bird dogger.” Believe me, it took some painful lessons to realize that just because I assumed co-workers were moving time-sensitive/critical-path work forward, it didn’t mean they were. Sometimes, particularly when you are just starting out in the corporate work world, you need to get “bitten” a few times, to acquire and employ new skills.
Getting back to the bird dogging. At our Boston-area digital marketing agency and SEO company, we believe that any and all marketing agencies and marketing consultants should serve as both strategic partners and accountability partners. Read on to learn why it’s so critical to sales, marketing, and SEO success, and to assess whether or not your marketing agency or consultant serves as both types of partners.
Why Your Marketing Agency Must Be A Strategic Partner
Whether you’re a small business owner with no marketing staff and you’ve outsourced your marketing strategy and/or your hands-on marketing work to a marketing agency or consultant, or you’re a mid-sized business that has a small in-house marketing team, it’s likely you and your team are far too busy to stay on top of cutting-edge marketing tactics and tools. Particularly as pertains to digital marketing, available opportunities/tactics change constantly, and there are such a large number of broad digital marketing categories (as indicated on our digital marketing services website page), that it would be impossible for you and your team to be experts in all available digital marketing topics, like SEO, social media advertising, Google Ads, etc.
I’ve mentioned this numerous times in blog posts and on Results C & R’s website pages, but when I launched my digital marketing agency and SEO company in 2014, I launched it with this tagline and philosophy: “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I always say I will never encourage an existing or prospective client to begin or continue with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them, based on secondary or primary data. That’s why I regularly ask prospective clients to let me look at their Google Analytics data before they engage me for work, and that’s why, for many of my clients, I track their digital marketing KPIs on a monthly basis and review results with them. Then, we talk about implications and what tactics we’ll put in place/what steps we’ll take to try to move the sales, inquiries, engagement, etc. (conversions) needle by the next time we meet. Often, it’s tiny steps, but steps we think make sense even if they only lead to slow progress as far as conversions go. Progress is progress, right?
Ask Yourself The Following To Determine If Your Marketing Agency Is A Strategic Partner:
- Does my marketing agency regularly look at data available in various marketing tools and analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine which current marketing tactics are most effective and what the “health” of your website looks like?
- Does your marketing agency document the above results/analysis and meet with you and your team regularly to review implications?
- Does your marketing agency try to learn on your dime — therefore, are they charging you for the time they spend on educating themselves on a new marketing tactic, tool, or opportunity? They shouldn’t.
- Does your marketing agency let you know if there is something you aren’t doing right and/or could be handling better on the marketing front, regardless of whether they are doing work for you related to it?
- Does your marketing agency let you know when they don’t think a particular marketing tactic/opportunity is the right fit for your organization?
- Does your marketing agency only recommend services they themselves offer, or will they recommend services/opportunities from which you’d benefit, even if it means they need to collaborate with/pull in another expert or strategic partner or refer you to somebody else?
- Does your marketing agency have a number of collaborative and strategic relationships with other partners/subject matter experts (SMEs)?
- Is your marketing agency regularly recommending new possible marketing opportunities to you?
- Related to the above bullet, do you get the sense that your marketing agency wants to use you as a “guinea pig” to try out the latest-fad marketing activity or tool, even if it might not be the right fit for your organization? If so, that’s certainly not a win-win situation!
Why Your Marketing Agency Needs To Be Your Accountability Partner
So, here’s the questions you should ask to determine whether or not your marketing agency or consultant is a true accountability partner and the real tie-in to bird dogging reference at the beginning of this post.
- If your marketing agency needs you to review something or provide information to move their work for you forward, do they reach out regularly for status updates and to remind you to ensure critical deadlines are met?
- Does your marketing agency send you an e-mail after a meeting documenting what work you or your team are responsible for completing before your next meeting?
- When your marketing agency senses that you are unable (for a variety of reasons) to review documents, provide information to inform their work for you, or complete hands-on work yourself, do they reach out and offer to help or to talk you thru what’s needed via a phone or Zoom call? Do, they do the aforementioned on a timely basis so that time-sensitive deadlines and deliverables are met?
I was talking with fellow marketing consultants this week and shared this famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire related to effective client-agency relationships, i.e., working collaboratively to move work forward, both successfully and efficiently: “Help Me, Help You.”
Does Your Marketing Agency Act Like Part Of Your Team?
Ultimately to determine if your existing marketing agency or marketing consultant or a prospective one is the right fit, in addition to the strategic-partner and accountability-partner questions above, you should ask yourself, does my agency treat me with respect and like a partner. Do I feel like my agency is as committed or even more committed than I am to my organization’s success? Does may agency feel like part of our team, and in some ways like family? Meaning, they’d do anything for you to help you succeed and only want the best for you?
I hope and believe that clients or prospective clients asking themselves any of the many questions outlined above arrive at answers that make them confident that the Results C & R team is both a strategic and an accountability partner and that we have our clients’ best interests are at the heart of everything we do!