You’ve done your research. The decision process is completed. You’ve finally made the leap, signed on the dotted line and outsourced your marketing. Excellent decision!
You'll often find during the onboarding process that most marketing agencies will assign a specific team to service your account. What constitutes that account team, however, will vary depending on the agency, or perhaps depending on your needs. But what you can almost always count on at just about every marketing firm is having a dedicated Account Manager to oversee the engagement, lead strategy meetings, discuss additional service opportunities and monitor results.
At PMG, for example, all of our client account teams (you can read more about our Approach here) include an Account Manager who will serve as your primary point of contact at the agency, a Project Manager who drives activities forward and manages budgets and resources, a Content Marketing Specialist, a Marketing Executor and a Designer. PMG clients also have access to an expanded team of Web and PPC specialists.
Typically, your Account Manager is the person you'll be communicating with on a day-to-day basis. But if this your first time partnering with an agency, you may not know what to expect! So here are a few ideas to help you ensure you’ve set yourself up for a successful relationship with your marketing agency's Account Manager!
1. Set Goals Together
During your search for an outsourced marketing agency, you likely interviewed several firms and aligned with the one that was the best fit. You agree with their vision and core values, and conversely, they understand where you're coming from in terms of serving your customers. With that common ground established, it's critical to communicate your own vision for your business, as well as your specific goals to your Account Manager. What defines a successful engagement with your agency? Think about the answer to this question both quantitatively (for example, x number of sales qualified leads, x% growth in inbound-generated revenue) and qualitatively (what type of communication do you expect, turnaround time for projects, etc.).
After your AM reviews your current analytics (which can often happen during the sales process before the engagement formally begins), they'll have a good sense of how realistic your goals are. You can then discuss your AM's assessment of where you are, where you want to be, and what you need to do in order to get there. Of course, to ensure the best possible work, your Account Manager will also share your vision, the intricacies of your business and measureable goals with your entire account team so everyone working with your company is on the same page.
2. Create a Clear Communication Plan
In the same vein as #1, make sure your Account Manager has a solid understanding of your communication expectations. In the beginning, you can certainly expect frequent emails, reports, calls or check-ins. But once you settle into the engagement, let your AM know your preferred style. Are you looking to hold a cadence call once a week or once a month? How often do you require reports, analytics reviews, and updates on projects? As the agency's client, it’s important to set these expectations clearly from the start.
3. Honesty Is Paramount
After setting goals and mutual expectations for communication, it's time to collaborate with your Account Manager on creating a results-driven marketing plan that supports your vision! Staying focused will ensure you are connecting all marketing activities back to business objectives. Without a plan, you may find yourself constantly shifting gears in a reactive marketing mode instead of a proactive approach.
After the marketing plan has been up and running for a couple of months, it's important to provide honest feedback to your AM. Having an open line of communication between the two of you is really important. Without judgement, you both need to be able to ask tough questions and feel comfortable sharing with each other what’s working and what’s not. Like in any other relationship, the bonds you forge at the beginning are going to deteriorate without consistent attention and straightforward conversations.
4. Embrace a Different Point of View
You've invested a lot of time and effort into your company's performance. There's no doubt about that. And as a result, it can sometimes be a little difficult to give up some of that "control" over your marketing or accept an outsider's point of view if it does not immediately align with your own. The right agency AM will be able to offer a fresh perspective on your marketing, and combine it with what's already working for your business.
Part of the reason why you hired an outsourced marketing firm is for that outside perspective, right? An expert in marketing, your Account Manager's job, in part, is to help you step outside of your comfort zone and expose you to new marketing strategies, programs or materials that will resonate with your target customer base.
Lastly, remember to take the time to bounce ideas off of your Account Manager. They should serve as a resource for insights, as well as a vessel for your occasion brain dumps! Share your thoughts early and often, before they’re perfect. Often the kernel of an idea tossed into the middle of a brainstorm session can turn into a fantastic lead generation offer, blog article or webinar topic!