The Hallmark Trait of a Successful Agency-Client Relationship
Industry insiders refer to it as agency life, a demanding yet exciting combination of long hours, busy social lives, high expectations, and creative work. Day-to-day hustle looks very different for marketers working at an agency than it does for their counterparts working at large brands or SMBs. With the exception of AdTech, the marketing technology landscape is largely designed to meet the requirements set forth by brands, not agencies.
This lack of agency-centric solutions is particularly noticeable in social media management. Few of the tools available take into consideration the distinction between the goals and constraints of marketers working for their clients as part of an agency, and marketers working internally within a brand.
In contrast to an in-house marketer, a digital strategist or social media manager working at an agency is typically responsible for multiple accounts. She is required to operate inside opaque content guidelines and often requires content approval from clients to manage their social media presence.
While some clients prefer to have as much input into the content planning process as possible, others simply reserve the right to approve or reject content. An agency’s social media planning process needs to accommodate a wide range of internal user roles and post planning stages, as well as respond to a different MO from client to client. Successful agencies err on the side of over-communicating with clients, they invest in visual design, and strive to minimize any unnecessary back-and-forth with clients. This drive towards an effortless communication, supervision, and approval workflow is the hallmark trait of a successful agency-client relationship.
Where 88% of clients claim to speak their mind freely, only 36% of agency partners agree. Where 90% of agencies say they truly understand their clients’ business, only 65% of other-halves agree. It’s a classic he-said, she-said situation that reveals the client-agency relationship is a pretty dysfunctional one.
There are many solutions already in the market designed to facilitate social media planning. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, Sprinklr and Percolate, often come to mind. Each of these tools is designed to address a specific segment of the SMB or enterprise market, and they do a fantastic job of helping their respective users manage their social media presence. However, this comes at the expense of the functionality needed by marketing agencies to efficiently communicate content to clients. In this, as in so many other things in life, no one can be all things to all people.
Fortunately, agency marketers are quite resourceful. Many of them report having found a way to repurpose mainstream tools to fit their needs or use spreadsheets to request approval from their clients. Unfortunately, they admit that neither of these alternatives represents a true solution. Spreadsheets in particular become difficult to work with and keep organized, and are not ideal for including media files. In the end, this leaves their clients half-guessing and trying to stitch things together.
Although every social media professional needs a content planning tool, only those working at an agency need that tool to also facilitate client approvals. This is why mainstream tools de-prioritize approvals in favor of other features such as content planning, social listening, analytics, etc. The right social media tool for marketing agencies therefore, needs to combine content planning and client approvals into a seamless process. Based on our conversations with over 500 marketing agencies, we believe that the ideal solution needs to emphasize two key areas:
Pre-Approved Planning. This translates to a built-in option to share content with clients from within the content planner, accurate post visualization to let clients preview how each post will look once its published, and the feedback mechanisms needed by clients to approve or reject content before it is scheduled to go live.
Client Experience. This is an area where most solutions in the market fall short, since they lack a client-facing environment altogether. For agencies, offering their clients the opportunity to conduct their day-to-day interaction using a tool built with their experience in mind goes a long way towards building strong long-term relationships.
Misunderstandings are one of the most common communication problems for both agencies and clients. When a client has trouble interpreting the intentions of an agency, it can cause confusion and slow down the workflow, since additional messages are required for clarification.
Incorporating seamless client communication and pre-approved planning will 10x the quality of your relationship with clients; save hours of manual work each month; minimize the risk of unwanted posts being published; and centralize planning across multiple clients, in one place.
We have built HeyOrca with these principles in mind. HeyOrca is a social media content planning and approval tool built specifically for marketing agencies and their clients. Our social media planner allows agencies to: plan, visualize and collaborate on social content for each of their clients from one place; choose what posts require client approval and generate a preview link they can send to their clients for review; and know that each post that goes live has the blessing of their client. Curious to learn more? Request a Demo!
Originally published at www.heyorca.com on January 11, 2017.