Clients aren’t all the same. Obviously! Not in terms of the product or service offering, certainly not regarding the platforms and technologies being developed upon and also not when it comes to the amount of input sought from their agencies. The extent to which a client is looking for input lies within a vast spectrum anywhere from “I need a rotating promo banner in that spot” through “I need events to be more easy for users to find on my site” to “How can I deliver more revenue through digital?”.
Ultimately, the less prescriptive a client is, the more time is required in collaboration and communication as the idea progresses towards an agreed set of requirements to form a known breakdown of specification, design or development tasks. Being a service industry, we’re all acutely aware: time is money.
Flicking through an email that is a defined and detailed set of changes achieves exactly what some client’s need. Having an agency work effectively as an extension of their internal team, where the process is known and simple and agencies are responsive and action-oriented, offers long-term benefits to both parties through stability of service agreement (e.g. retainers) and dependency to deliver results.
However, where a client can drive even greater value is by stopping and taking a step back to discuss why. Why are you asking for ‘the thing’ and what return will you get? Collaboratively discussing this with your agency will result in a better solution or at minimum understood value before you start. You can make use of your agency’s knowledge across technologies, industry verticals and digital channels and harness the experience from hundreds of finished projects in order to add value to the idea and throughout the process as the idea progresses. So how do you access this extra value? Here are five quick tips to consider when you start to engage with your agency.
Explain the overall reason for asking. What led to the need or idea? What might be coming after it? How does this fit in the overall roadmap?
This information gives your agency the opportunity to validate requests and make recommendations. For example, it may result in a shift to the order items are done in the long-term plan to ensure the early items are being done with the later in mind. This could be to accommodate technical dependencies or to reduce re-work of the first item, when the second is in progress.
Know your goals and how you’ll measure the success of any work delivered. Is it total sessions, average session time, proportion of returning users, revenue generated, email signups, shares to social networks, number of application submissions etc. This not only allows you to prove the impact of the outcome but also lets your agency wash any ideas against these – always focussing on delivering measurable results.
There can be many ways of getting to the same outcome but the options may differ in quality, complexity and timeliness. Being specific about the mechanism of the solution will result in getting exactly what you ask for, however it could eventuate at the end of the project that you asked for the wrong thing altogether. This might mean more work for the agency in making additional changes down the line. More work = more money! But doing the wrong job in the first place delivers no satisfaction to your agency and tells the wrong story with your execs which is ultimately relationship damaging. Start with the requirement and work with your agency to determine the best solution.
Figures are sensitive – we get that – but giving your agency information at this point, will empower them to spend time generating relevant value-add ideas in the future. If your agency has an inspired idea and can prove the return, this benefits both the agency by generating work and a revenue backlog and the client by creating value and delivering ROI. Ideas for free! Success for all.
Everything can’t always be burning or high priority. If your agency is forever on the receiving end of “it’s all urgent” then when something finally is higher priority than the rest, there’ll be no way to identify it as such and no change to the way it’s treated. Identify the things that will deliver greatest return and are most ‘ready’ and focus on those first. Consider de-prioritising undefined items or remove them altogether if they pose greater risk to project success. For more on this topic refer to “Top 3 Killers for Projects at Crunch Time”.
In order for the agency to drive revenue and success internally they need to deliver regularly on promises they commit to clients, naturally making them process focussed and results oriented. Focusing on these five considerations when engaging your agency will inspire higher-value ideas, empower delivery of better outcomes and achieve greater success for both agency and client alike.