agency-client meetingCreating better agency-client relationships can be a challenge, which is why regular meetings and check-ins are an important part of keeping these partnerships running smoothly. But as an agency, it’s also vital to come to these meetings equipped with the right metrics and reports so you can make sure you’re clearly demonstrating the value of your company to your clients.

Recently, advertising agency RPA joined with USA Today to conduct an anonymous survey of more than 140 advertising agencies and brand marketing leaders. They were trying to gain a better understanding of the agency-client relationship and to determine what effect that relationship has on creativity. The results were revealed at RPA’s forum at the 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, “The Naked Truth” and the answers were eye-opening.

Especially interesting to me were the answers to the first question, “Which of these leads to the best advertising?” In response to this question, 98% of clients and 98% of agencies were in agreement: Clients trusting their agencies was viewed as the most important factor when it comes to creating the best advertising. I find this fascinating because if both parties agree that trust is critical, why is it so difficult to achieve?

Building Trust Over Time

When I worked at an advertising agency, we had one client that trusted us completely. We could do no wrong in their eyes, and everything our creative teams touched seemed to turn to gold. And the thing is, we trusted them in turn. We were open and transparent about our processes, and we listened closely to them when they had input into creative direction. We reported on what worked, and admitted when things went wrong. Trust is a two-way street.

Of course, most successful relationships (of any kind) are built on a solid foundation of mutual trust, which is why marketing agencies need to create strong relationships with their clients from the very beginning of the relationship. Account management teams need to meet deadlines, respond quickly, communicate frequently, and do everything they can to make the relationship work.

But what really builds trust, in my opinion, is check-in meetings where the health of campaigns is examined. That includes before, during, and after campaign launch check-ins for agencies and clients to get together so you can address the following questions and concerns.

At the pre-launch check-in:

  • What is the primary goal of this campaign?
  • What are the secondary objectives, if any?
  • What defines success, and what does failure look like?
  • What are the key performance indicators?
  • How many deliverables will there be?
  • How many rounds of revisions are allowed?
  • How many hours will be required?
  • What are the projected costs? Is there an allowance for overages?
  • Are there any areas of potential concern?
  • Are there any upcoming events, holidays, or corporate announcements that could affect the performance of the campaign?
  • What are the results of any testing, beta versions, or focus groups, and what changes were made as a result?
  • What research have we done to support this concept and execution?
  • What metrics do we have that demonstrate the success of similar campaigns?

At this meeting, it’s a good idea to come prepared with reports that show what kinds of results they can expect, as well as the level of reporting that you’ll be able to provide during and after the campaign. Set an expectation that you know you can deliver on.

At the in-progress check-in:

  • How is the performance of the campaign tracking against the previously defined metrics?
  • Which adjustments, if any, should we make to optimize the performance of the campaign?
  • Have any surprises (positive or negative) come up?
  • How are the hours used, or number of deliverables produced, mapping to the projections?
  • Are there any overages or additional costs?
  • Have there been any technical challenges or outside influences that could impact the results?

The metrics you need for this meeting depend on the results the campaign is generating. If everything is going like gangbusters and all the KPIs are being met, exceeded, or blown out of the water, you should be sure to demonstrate that fact with numbers and big, shiny graphs, obviously. But you should also show how this campaign could potentially perform if it were extended over time, leveraged into new markets, or expanded into new channels.

If the results aren’t good, it’s even more important to be prepared. Bring any data you have to demonstrate why things are likely to improve (if that’s the case). Identify any aspects of the campaign you can change while it’s in flight, and run hypothetical scenarios for each one to see if they can move the dial in a positive direction. If necessary, run a risk analysis of pulling the plug.

At the post-mortem meeting:

  • Did the campaign meet the goals, objectives, and KPIs? Why or why not?
  • Can we define it as a success or a failure?
  • How well did we communicate internally and externally, before, during and after the campaign?
  • How good was our process?
  • Did we have a workable plan and did we keep on schedule?
  • What feedback, reviews, or survey results did we receive?
  • What changes should we make to our teams or strategies before we launch the next project?

agency meetingBe sure to take notes and collect the insights you gain during this meeting so you can use the information you gain to help direct your course. Indicate the ways the work you’ve done together can be repurposed for future campaigns, saving your clients money. If possible, you might want to hold an internal agency-only post mortem first – before meeting with the client – to make sure your teams all agree on the results of the campaign. Highlight and capture the most important thing each team learned.

Most of all, make sure the post-mortem meeting is constructive. If mistakes have been made, document them and move on. Successful marketers understand that making mistakes is part of the process – and your clients need to understand that, too. Every failure is an opportunity to learn and improve.

How Marketing Automation Helps

With the right marketing automation technology, agencies can do more than reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. They can also improve workflow efficiencies, reduce costs, and increase revenue streams And the advanced measurement capabilities, paired with in-depth reporting, demonstrate the results to clients in an easy-to-understand way. This level of accountability and transparency, along with regular check-ins and post-mortem meetings, helps build up the kind of trust that leads to lasting, creative, and profitable relationships between clients and agencies.

Read this eBook to discover the nine essential strategies that can help agencies of any size take full advantage of the power and growth potential of marketing automation.

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