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Make your agency a business partner, not just a service provider

Losing customers? Discover 4 steps that can help you change the game and position your agency

Working in the Customer Success area here at Resultados Digitais, I often heard comments from partner agencies such as: “the customer needed to cut costs and canceled the contract”. The reason? Simple: the client did not see the agency as a business partner because they did not see value in the actions taken. In these cases, in a moment of crisis, the contract with the agency is the first to be canceled.

In many cases, agencies are concerned about the number of rich materials and landing pages they will create for their client, however, they forget what the main objective and the expected result for that project are.

Focused on deliveries that do not directly impact the client’s business, the agencies end up positioning themselves only as a service provider, being easily replaced when something goes wrong.

But how to change your agency’s positioning to make it a strategic business partner for the client? Below, I show you how to do this in 4 simple steps.

#1: Understand what caused your client to sign a contract with your agency

Can you tell what was the reason your client closed with your agency?

The answers to this question can be many: lead generation for sales, customer loyalty focused on the repurchase, customer relationship focused on branding/institutional, and so on.

But, how to answer this question in an assertive way? Listening to your customer.

Never underestimate him. Remember that he owns the business and understands the service/product he offers. Seek to understand what are the main pains and challenges he faces and what he understands as success. Only in this way will it be possible to structure an action plan that will make you achieve these results together with your agency.

The understanding process starts in the prospecting and sales phase, but take advantage of the briefing moment to immerse yourself in the client. Go beyond the partners, talk to the operation and commercial team, try to understand what are the main objections you hear daily, analyze the whole scenario, and if possible, conduct an interview with a real persona, validating the hypotheses raised and points to be developed for the Digital Marketing project.

All this exchange will be relevant to generate assertive inputs to support your service provision, without forgetting to validate your perceptions with the customer to confirm whether the points raised really make sense.

#2: Develop strategic planning

We at Resultados Digitais realize that many customers show dissatisfaction even within the first 6 months of the project. We heard comments such as: “the agency did not understand what we wanted”, “the agency was not able to deliver what was agreed”, or “the agency took too long to initiate the actions”.

We also realized that agencies make the mistake of focusing only on the entry of new clients and forget to keep up with older clients. As a result, they lose customers in almost the same amount (and speed) as new ones come in, the classic “flat bucket.”

But, how can we avoid this kind of situation? Aligning expectations with the customer.

First: pay attention to the customers who are already in the house! A business partnership involves a relationship. How are you with your customers? Do you know if they are satisfied with the deliveries?

These are important questions you and your team need to ask. If you don’t know the answers or if the client is far away, now is the time to start a meeting. Find out if the client’s goals remain the same so that you can re-engage with the project and re-plan if necessary.

Second: beware of younger customers! We know that planning and marketing actions take considerable time for your team. Therefore, strategic planning needs to be aligned with customer expectations. We cannot take too long in this initial phase, as the customer is both excited and eager to see the results.

In this way, leverage his initial engagement to your advantage. Align what the schedule will be, those responsible for each task, and the expected results for each phase of the project. Don’t forget to share the responsibility for the project’s progress with your client, after all, the interaction between the two parties will be essential for the deliveries to make sense and for them to occur at the ideal time. All this will bring security to him.

If there is any kind of delay or any delivery simply does not happen as planned, it is important to clarify with the client what was the reason and what your agency will do to correct it, mapping out what the next steps will be.

Don’t forget that it is necessary to have a continuous follow-up with the client to keep them informed about the project’s performance. Thus, your agency will be able to understand the customer’s perception of value, if he is satisfied with the results presented so far. And the customer will be able to see that you are really looking to be a business partner.

#3: Involve your team in customer success

We often notice a lack of clarity and communication among the agency members themselves. Each one focuses on his box and forgets to look at the whole, which is very detrimental to the delivery of the final result and to the customer experience.

An example is thinking: what good is it going to do with a paid media campaign that is out of line with the content strategy? Or create content that is not related to the project’s goals? Sounds absurd, right? But, this situation is quite common.

Here at RD, we have Customer First as one of our values, which goes far beyond just focusing on the customer. We have a genuine interest in a customer’s success and believe that our product/service can make a significant difference to their business. We seek to experience this value every day, regardless of the team where we are, as this is not the exclusive responsibility of the service team.

The provocation remains: has your agency encouraged the team to focus on the client? If the answer was “no”, what are you going to do now to change that?

The paths are different, however, they have one point in common: we cannot act only in a reactive way. The agency needs to be proactive and establish alignment routines with the client. 

This should be done at the beginning of the immersion and planning, defining together with the client how he wants to follow up and with what frequency. If you haven’t done it already, it’s never too late. Ensure monthly alignment and establish successful quarterly reviews.

#4: Deliver opportunities

The agency does not sell 4 landing pages, 2 rich materials or 3 email marketing campaigns. She sells the solution to her customer’s problems. This thinking is key for you to leave the service provider position and position yourself as a business partner.

Knowing this, how are you going to deliver the expected result?

One of the most important points is having recurrent actions. If we only work with punctual campaigns, this will generate a fluctuation in delivery and will have a great impact on the results expected by the client.

Therefore, it is essential to have recurring demand generation, so that the focus will not only be to generate new leads every month but to act in the relationship and qualification of these leads, ensuring the delivery of opportunities for the client’s commercial team to act, which will impact directly on his pocket, showing the relevance of your service to his business.

Many agencies still find it difficult to align marketing and sales , but we know that this is an essential process for several reasons, including:

  • Analysis of the funnel to raise hypotheses and make adjustments to the strategy
  • Proof of ROI

When we have the complete information from the funnel (visitors/leads / qualified leads/opportunities/sales), we can analyze and hypothesize which phase we need to optimize and improve conversion rates. In addition, proof of ROI brings security to the agency itself, as this is the indicator that will help to prove the results of marketing actions.

Therefore, to become a business partner…

Your agency needs:

  • Ensuring a close and aligned relationship with customers
  • Keep your team motivated and with a genuine interest in their success
  • Generate recurring demand, through the delivery of opportunities for the commercial and
  • Prove the value of your shares through the presentation of results

If your agency doesn’t do that yet, how about starting now?