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5 tips for managing agency partner relationships and launching your first marketing campaign successfully.

Written by Tyler Riddell

Tyler is a data-driven storyteller with more than 20 years of marketing experience. He heads up the development of marketing strategy for Peritus' clients.

September 29, 2020

Managing Agency Partner Relationships

As companies shift to a digital-first sales strategy and seek out marketing experts to consult, they must carefully consider options. Pushing beyond the pandemic requires strong working relationships built on trust and communication.

Working with an agency demands a great deal of trust. Every firm says they have a strong commitment and can deliver on its brand promise to help drive your business forward, but many fall short for various reasons.

This article offers 5 tips for managing agency partner relationships more effectively – from on-boarding to executing your first lead generation program.

Small businesses and Startups need to create an Integrated Campaign ethos to maximize their limited resources available and maintain a focus on business outcomes –> more web traffic, more leads and pipeline, and better execution.

Managing Agency Partner Relationships

1. Create a shared partnership vision and roadmap.

Once you have chosen the agency you wish to work with, make sure your joint team is already doing homework before the kickoff meeting. These foundational deliverables that drive campaign strategy, messaging, and execution. Also, they need to reflect on the vision and roadmap for achieving the ultimate business outcome. Some of the activities should include identifying concrete business objectives, developing/refining Buyer Personas, the Buyer Journey Map, a Messaging Matrix, and leveraging Keyword Research as a significant data point for digital marketing. All these crucial materials play a significant role in creating an effective and responsive content marketing programs intended to achieve better business outcomes along the buyer journey.

managing-agency-partner-relationships- Milestones

2. Must have a thorough onboarding program.

Be sure your agency partner has an onboarding process and all the training and information you need to succeed with the relationship. It’s essential to set expectations and establish well-defined rules of engagement and goals. A SharePoint website should be a repository containing all of your joint work projects and assets, including graphics, videos, datasheets, briefs, reports, content marketing and strategy materials, contracts, etc. It’s best to start with everything in place for orientation, including items the agency will need to do their job supporting go-to-market strategies, lead gen campaigns, or even a brand refresh. Other tools that can peal off the data collection process (during the on-boarding phase) include competitive positioning, market differentiators, competitive sales pitches, pricing, and so on.

Managing Agency Partner Relationships - Creative Process

3. Be transparent.

Building great agency relationships means being proactive, responsive, and being a strategic resource. It’s incumbent on the agency to become knowledgeable in their partners’ product, company, and industry. Depending on the agency’s skill set, it can also play the great salesperson or sales coach’s advisor. Helping to create demand and refer leads. New technology such as Marketing Automation Software is designed to optimize lead tracking and nurturing to help the sales team focus on calling marketing qualified leads. This software can provide you greater visibility of the entire funnel and easily integrated into your existing CRM through a open API. These workflow details between your agency partner and your sales team require attention, definition, and mapping so programs will work. Create a project to get this established during onboarding and test the process. The goal is to establish a seemless workflow in partnership and processes to achieve sales and customer support goals.

managing agency partner relationships - communications

4. Communicate effectively.

Based on your engagement rules, you and your agency must have formal communication channels (weekly team meetings) and project-specific channels to get the work done.

Sometimes their a bit of overlap but working off a joint editorial calendar/production schedule with deadlines is crucial for success. It is understandable with all the new demands placed on your team due to COVID-19, but time must be dedicated to supporting your creative process with deadlines is crucial to achieving the best results.

Are you kicking Off Your First Campaign? The Path to Marketing Success involves the following steps, so make sure your agency partner has worked closely with your team to execute flawlessly. Building great content typically takes time. We do it with efficiency and to scale for small businesses.

Editorial Calendar - Business Goals

Set Marketing Objectives

  • Outline business goals and marketing objectives for the program.
  • Alignment is essential to move the needle – driving more website traffic, generating more marketing qualified leads, increasing pipeline.
  • The fact that you are creating more quality assets should produce greater value for enabling the sales team. Creating more “arrows for the sales quiver” should be a stated goal in the program. 
Buyer Persona - Managing Agency Partner Relationships

Define the Target Audience & Buyer Journey Stage to Influence

  • Ideal Customer Profile.
  • Create Personas.
  • Mapping the Buyer Journey.
  • Maping research to Master Content Marketing Matrix to transfer messaging to assets (eBooks, Case Studies, emails, etc.)
  • SEO Keyword research provides strong indicators of buyer intent not only for organic web search volume but how you can better align your product and service value propositions.
  • Competitive Intelligence.
  • Determine the best Marketing Channel and Type of Assets based on your newly developed Buyer Journey.
  • Your first campaign with a new agency partner should target a marketplace you have already had had success in, so you can fine tune for future campaigns.
Managing Agency Partner Relationships - Editorial Calendar

Create/Work with a Content Editorial Plan

  • Develop the cadence based on your sales cycle and resources. You must have visibility of the resource plan and responsibilities.
  • Make sure to set up your Marketing Automation Software and workflows to deliver leads to the sales team.
  • A lean integrated B2B marketing program should involve a Pillar-piece of Content (e.g., eBook posted on your website), 4+ prospect emails targeting prospects in your database, four blog articles bifurcated to highlight keywords and audiences within the eBook, landing pages, CTAs on website.
Managing Agency Partner Relationships - Content

Develop Tactics and Assets

  • Create SEO-strategy for web-based content withing campaign: Pillar Content (and landing page), 4-Emails, 4-Blogs (keywords to personas), 3/4 Social Posts, Featured Website, and supporting Sales Tools.
  • Setup Marketing Automation Software, Automations (Engagement), and Workflows (Internal) for lead follow up and distribution.
  • Select the right types of assets to achieve your defined goals for the campaign based on Buyer Journey. For example, Thought Leadership articles should have different goals than a newly created client case study.  

5. Test, Execute, Analyze Analytics

To measure your responses across marketing channels and target segments (within your target audience), then refine your content message and digital media for your next campaign. Executing your first campaign may require patience to secure the best results.

As your firm shifts to a digital-first sales and marketing strategy, you need to develop your partnership with a marketing partner carefully. Start your agency partnership on the right foot with clear expectations – goals and objectives. And how you’ll address these in developing marketing and sales programs that move create better business outcomes.

Trust and communication with your marketing agency are keys to having a successful partnership. Your busy, so work at making the relationship work for your business.

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