4 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Marketing Agency Success

June 12, 2019

When you’re starting a new marketing agency, you’re full of hopes and ambitions of doing great work for your clients. (At least, we hope you are!) But the fact is, many agencies fail to avoid the common pitfalls that diminish their work and their business.

Fortunately, these pitfalls are easy to avoid, if you know what to look out for. In this post, we’ll share four of the most frequent mistakes marketing agencies make, and how you can get it right to run more successful campaigns, develop better client relationships, and win more business.

Pitfall #1: Focusing on the Work, Not the Client

As creatives, sometimes that greatest strength can become a weakness. It’s so easy to get excited about new ideas and rush into executing before you really get to know the client’s business and products.

The problem is, if you focus on the ideas before you understand the client, your work probably won’t align with their business goals. You may even make erroneous claims or target the wrong type of customer. Either way, you’re going to end up with a frustrated client who feels that their needs aren’t being addressed. The result? Eroded trust and even damage to your reputation.

How to Get it Right

You want to start your relationship on the right foot, establish effective communication between your teams, and define shared expectations so you can hold each other accountable for the results.

So, instead of leading with your ideas for the campaign, start by truly getting to know your client and their business—who they are, what they sell or provide, and why they’re looking for an agency partner in the first place. Try to understand what’s working and not working in their business, what keeps them up at night, and where you can be most valuable. Most importantly, you need to establish how they’ll evaluate your work and define success, including what goal or number they expect you to reach.

Pitfall #2: Setting the Wrong Goals

When you’re defining expectations with a client, it can be challenging to find the right way to measure your work. Marketing is notorious for using “vanity metrics”—numbers that sound impressive or are easy to influence, but aren’t actual indicators of performance. It might be tempting to use a metric like social media followers or impressions as the goal for your campaign. However, unless you’re also seeing real business results, flashy vanity metrics will only leave a sour taste in your client’s mouth when they realize that their marketing agency investment isn’t paying off.

How to Get It Right

This is where understanding your client’s business is invaluable. Unless you truly understand who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish, you’ll never be able to set the goals that will get the results you both want.

Setting goals should be a collaborative process. You’ll want to get input from their C-suite, as well as their marketing and sales team, to see what they need to accomplish. Similarly, they should respect your input as far as what is realistic for you to achieve, given any time and/or budget restrictions.

With this understanding, you can develop clear expectations and goals, including the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be used to evaluate your work. Each goal you set should have a KPI associated with it. When creating your KPIs, make them as useful as possible. For example, rather than using Marketing-Sourced Lead Count, you could use something like MQL:SQL Ratio by Channel. Using an enhanced metric like this gives you much more information to work with as you refine your campaign, while also providing useful data for your client.

Pitfall #3: Failing to Prove Value

When working with clients, letting the work “speak for itself” is not an option. Even if your campaigns are performing well, unless your clients can see and understand how your influence has impacted their bottom line, they may begin to question their investment.

Clients want to feel confident in the money they’re spending with your agency. They want to know that you’re taking the time to get it right, and that they’re getting the results they want.

How to Get It Right

Rather than leaving your clients to figure out whether they made a good choice in hiring you, tell them. Better yet, show them. A simple weekly report and a monthly deep-dive can quickly build your clients’ trust and confidence in you.

In your reports, connect your work to their actual sales numbers and calculate the real ROI of their investment. If you want to really up the ante, show them what you’re learning about their business so that you (and they) can strategize more effectively.

Bonus Tip: Use Grow’s BI platform to create client-facing dashboards so that they can dive into the data themselves. (They’re also an excellent selling point for your business.)

Pitfall #4: Spending Time Reporting, Not Optimizing

Of course, while client reporting is important, it shouldn’t take too much time away from optimizing your campaigns. HubSpot claims that agency staff spend about four to five hours each month on reporting—per client. While you want to generate detailed client reports that convey the complete story of your work, this kind of personnel cost can add up quickly.

How to Get It Right

Your clients need great reports, that’s a fact. But you can have top-notch reporting without poring over the Excel sheets for hours on end. Instead of succumbing to headache-inducing manual work, automate your reports. There are a variety of business intelligence (BI) platforms and other tools designed to help businesses of all sizes meet their reporting needs.

Bonus Tip: Grow is specially designed to make reporting simple with dashboards that automatically update with fresh data. Dashboard templates mean you don’t have to recreate a new set of reports from scratch for every new client—just connect their data sources, and you’re set!


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