It's been said before, but we'll say it again and emphasize it in italics: As a modern marketer, you need to be able to communicate the value of new methods of marketing.
Certain foundational aspects of marketing have remained the same over time, yes, but marketing itself has had to adapt to changes in accessibility to information.
We'll use a not-that-hypothetical scenario to help paint the picture of information accessibility. You're at Best Buy, standing in the headphone aisle, browsing the shelves. You like the look of one pair, and pull it off the shelf. What's your next step? We'd be willing to wager that you'd pull out your phone, google the headphones, read the reviews, check if you can find them for cheaper elsewhere, and then make your decision.
Point is, the buyer has leverage now, in both B2C and B2B scenarios. The marketers/salespeople no longer have the advantage of being the most informed.
Let's extend this concept to a business looking to choose a marketing agency.
When a business is shopping for an agency to handle their marketing efforts, they have access to endless information about different marketing methods and competing agencies. So differentiation is the name of the game, and great communication can be a huge differentiator.
This blog post will outline how to communicate with a client in a way that solidifies your value, affirms your partnership, and helps the client understand how your efforts contribute to their bottom line.
Assuage Cognitive Dissonance
Sounds fancy right? In english, this means "address buyer's remorse, before it happens."
A business has undoubtedly examined many competitor agencies before narrowing down their decision to you. Then, they sign the contract.
This is a crucial point in your relationship with the client. It's time to affirm their confidence in their choice. Do not make the mistake of being low-touch with your communication in the days following the signature, this will make the client uneasy from the start, and you will need to work to build back that trust.
Our advice? Over-communicate. Here are a few suggestions for inspiration:
- Send an initial kickoff email the same day that the contract is signed. Voice your excitement about the partnership, propose some times for an initial kickoff meeting, and reinforce the goals that were discussed in the sales conversations.
- Establish the key points of contact from both parties. Introduce the members of your team most associated with the account. This will help alleviate any concerns or misunderstandings about who to contact with questions by putting names to the relationship.
- Build out an internal process doc to help your team understand what the expectations of communication are at each stage of the relationship, and emphasize the kickoff.
Now that the relationship has kicked off, and your client is confident in their choice, it's time to determine how you will communicate your value with transparency, and back it up with data.
Provide Relevant Reporting
Data is king in today's marketing world. It is imperative, as an agency or a marketing manager, to be able to paint the picture the data is telling you.
It extends further than that, though. You need to be able to give the data context. How are the numbers supporting the goals that you have set? How do these numbers show that your marketing efforts are generating ROI?
Reporting seems daunting. There are many, many sources of marketing data in the modern business environment. It will be time-consuming, but it will be worth it.
According to an article in Forbes, companies that "don't put data at the center of their marketing and sales decisions are missing out on a 15-20% increase in marketing ROI." Data not only validates your efforts, but provides insight into the campaigns that you can focus on moving forward.
In a marketing statistics report published by HubSpot, in which 4,500 marketing and sales professionals were surveyed, 43% of surveyees said that "proving the ROI of our marketing activities" was their top marketing challenge.
Image source: https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics
Another 28% said that "securing enough budget" was their top challenge, which directly correlates to the above point. Securing a budget for your future efforts becomes easier when you can justify the ROI of past ones.
There is a desperate need in the marketing landscape for agencies that can tell stories with data. Executives recognize this need, as 73.5% of CMOs surveyed by RSW/US said data/analytics capabilities are important or highly important.
One suggestion to help prove your value to the key decision makers is taking the time to step back and do a thorough case study. For reference, here is an example of a case study we did with a client of ours, NoteVault. We dug into the data of our partnership in many different areas, and built a story surrounding it. Not only was this a great exercise in understanding the numbers, it was a beneficial collaborative effort between the client, NoteVault, and the agency, us.
Whoa, that was a lot of data for this section about the importance of data. Or was that on purpose?
Communication takes many forms throughout any client-agency partnership. Whether it's addressing buyer's remorse before it happens, outlining goals, providing data to back your efforts, or navigating conflict, transparency is the key here.
Transparency shouldn't just be a buzzword. It's a proven productivity booster and helps build the most important part of any business relationship: trust.
At the Harvard Business School, researchers conducted a study examining the concept of transparency in a restaurant, in which the cooks and customers could literally see each other during the whole dining experience.The results showed an imporvement of 17% in customer satisfaction and 13% faster service.
Granted, the restaurant industry is very different than the marketing agency world, but the value of transparency transcends that separation.
Even when it's uncomfortable, transparency and honesty are the most successful business relationship builders. Communicate about what's working, and what isn't. Be transparent with your objectives and provide consistent updates about the progress towards that objective.
Because let's face it, there is a lot of competition out there, and it's your job to communicate the value of the partnership.
If you have any questions about communication in business, or simply just want some help with your marketing efforts, feel free to reach out or request a free inbound marketing consultation.