Over the years, I’ve heard many people say that they made a “good change” to a program. I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m going to make a bad change.”
Everyone makes recommendations with the intent of making things better. The problem is that it can be hard to tell whether our recommendations will have a positive or negative impact until we look at end results. What we can do, however, is open the lines of communication to minimize uncertainty.
One of the key parts of my job is working with clients to implement and optimize programs based on actual outcomes. This is facilitated when clients treat our relationship as a partnership—strongly valuing collaboration and open communication.
The client-agency partnership isn’t an equal one. The final decision on everything rests—rightly—with the client. But the partnership is equal in some respects—such as in the sharing of data throughout the sales funnel. This allows us to see where our programs are working best and where we need to make changes.
For example: What are the response rates? Which products sell the most? Which are the most profitable? Energy spent in the wrong area is wasted. And without knowing the impact of marketing on the full sales funnel, product portfolio, etc., we could be spending our resources in the wrong places. A full understanding of resources and goals is key from the outset.
Having formerly been on the client side of the marketing world, I understand the potential reticence to share budgets with agencies. Sometimes it feels better to let the other guy (i.e., the agency) give a number first. But in my experience, this only leads to confusion and a loss of time and effort.
Marketing goals and objectives help point to the client’s destination. The budget helps define how we get the client there. We could travel by rickshaw, Lamborghini, or—most likely—by means of something in between. It’s usually a matter of finding a very reliable sedan to get the job done. Knowing the budget range from the start allows us to pick the right vehicle a lot faster. Then we can use the extra time and resources to fine-tune it.
Whether we are starting a job or reviewing the results for optimization, a strong collaborative partnership between client and agency makes everything more efficient. We learn from each other and gain a deeper understanding of how we can succeed in the changing marketplace. In the end, it helps us all make more “good changes.”