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Converting the Client-Agency Relationship to a Strategic Partnership

by Emilie Toll

Previously, we talked about the importance of support for small to medium sized businesses, and how SaaS CMS platforms offer more support than that found with Open Source CMS platforms. But platform support isn't the only type of support that your clients need. The support your agency provides is the catalyst for growth for your clients, and your business as a whole. Consider the following points.

Coaching Is Part of the Job

Make no mistake: you're not simply providing a service to your clients. You're partnering with them. You’re the coach. You provide the thought leadership clients need to navigate the world of marketing. You enlighten clients, allowing them to understand what you're doing and why, to trust your actions, and to buy into the results before they happen.

Transparency & Client Strategy

It's crucial to be transparent in the actions you take on behalf of your client. Telling clients how and what you’re doing gives them the ability to understand success as it is happening. Establishing standards for communication allows clients to be on the same page and work in concert.

Scheduled, weekly calls allow your team to discuss what happened last week and what’s on the docket this week. You’ll be happy too, because you can perceive the client’s tone, as well as convey your own. This is something that’s lost in email.

To stand out from the deluge of email, consider utilizing your project management software or a collaboration tool. While it is another platform to check, it is a centralized place to keep documents, change requests, and approvals.  Your team won’t have to check 50 other places before verifying the client did in fact want the blue to be green.

To reduce confusion before, during, and after a website project, maintenance agreements are a must. Maintenance agreements spell out exactly who handles website maintenance, including who owns and manages the domain, DNS updates, website hosting, platform and plug-in updates, and billing. After a website is live, your team and client knows their responsibilities, your client knows what is billable, and the client has an idea of what is involved with keeping the website up-to-date. By providing clarity, you’re eliminating headaches, frustration, and stress.

Data Takes Priority Over Creativity

I’m sorry to say your creative services don't set you apart from other agencies. One way to stand out as the coach and partner they need is to implement data-driven marketing.

Using a data-driven approach has many benefits. You stand out from the crowd of one-size-fits-all marketers. You demonstrate that you know your client’s brand, industry, and competitors. You sway the target audience to try, adopt, or keep using the product or service. When the results come in, your client is ecstatic. All because of your ability to weave data into your entire marketing strategy while leveraging your creativity.

Building an Interagency Team

It's likely you're not your client's only marketing partner. Other niche agencies and service providers fill the gaps, whether right or wrong. To provide the complete experience for your client, you must see these other partners as an extension of the client's team or, better yet, as your partner. The dread of collaborating with another agency comes from bad experiences. Start fresh and forge a collaborative, interagency team. It's the best thing you can do for your client.

Customer Experience

You preach customer experience to your clients. Do you use it to benefit your agency? Always look to better yourself and your team, enhance existing services, and improve inadequacies. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is ideal as a feedback tool because you're already familiar with it. Another tool agencies use is the A.C.A.F. Loop, which provides the following elements:

  • Asking your customers for feedback.
  • Categorizing that feedback in a meaningful way for your business.
  • Acting on feedback by sharing it with those in your agency that are capable of implementing changes.
  • Follow-up with the client, letting him or her know you are listening and talking about the changes that will be implemented.

An Empowered Team

Clients tend to want answers from the top. It is not always practical for leadership to handle all communication with the client. Let your clients know that you're confident in your team's ability to handle communication and support their needs. The same goes for your team. Let the staff know they're all qualified (that's why you hired them), and they have your support to do what is best for the client.

Reaping the Rewards

In all aspects of your relationship with your clients, there should be the feeling of partnership and the feeling of trust. Thinking outside the box sometimes doesn't have the payout you and your client were looking for. Mistakes happen. As long as there is trust and everyone feels like they are part of the equation in making success happen, the partnership will reap the rewards. 

Marketpath CMS: Supporting Your Agency & Your Clients

As you're developing a website, leverage Marketpath CMS’ package manager or template your way with partials. Looking to do something custom, but need to bounce it off another developer? Take advantage of our unlimited support. And, after a site launch, we’re here for whoever plans on maintaining the site (but don’t worry, upgrades are automatic and there are no plugins to manage).

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Related Tags: Agencies, Marketing, Digital Marketing, Lessons Learned, Client Management

Emilie Toll, Marketing Project Manager, Marketpath

Emilie Toll

Emilie serves as the Marketing Project Manager for Marketpath. She obtained an M.B.A. in Marketing and International Business from the University of Indianapolis. She enjoys every aspect of marketing, and finds the analytics just as fascinating. As a former restaurant owner, the entrepreneurial spirit lives on in her, and she wants to help others establish their ideal online presence.


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