Archive for May, 2009

Digital Agencies: The Recession brings out the worst in Clients

May 28, 2009

Digital Agencies: An Assumption too far

May 26, 2009

Working in digital, often with clients who aren’t fully versed with all things web based, one thing you just can’t do… is assume anything. And trust me, this only comes with experience.

I’ll leave it to the Project Management types to preach the significance of crossing every ‘T’ and dotting every ‘I’ in the requirements and specification on projects; I’m talking about the much bigger picture – the education of our clients on how this all works. And when I say ‘this’- I’m referring to working with a digital agency.

The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable. Do you understand how this relationship is going to work? How do we fit into your digital marketing strategy (or more significantly, your organisation)? Who makes the decisions and how are they going to be made? – Obvious questions…maybe not.

This conversation has to take place – and not only with brand new clients – current clients too probably need a refresher. They need to identify with how the agency/client connection works as well as we do. We’re not an internal resource – we’re not an external digital fulfilment house – We’re here to pioneer our clients digital output and provide them with a product/service that they couldn’t harness in-house. However, we cannot assume our clients really appreciate this 100% of the time.

Our clients know their business intimately – they even know their own personal objectives of their role thoroughly and where they fit. But assuming they know how a digital agency works or even how to operate effectively alongside a digital agency is an assumption too far.

Question Everything - Assume Nothing

Digital Agenc ies: Assume Nothing

Digital Agencies: It’s all about service

May 18, 2009

If you don’t look after your clients, someone else will. It’s as straightforward as that. And now, more than ever, really is the time to bring this to the front of our minds.

It’s widely noted that digital agencies approach the client service relationship a little differently from traditional agencies. The fast pace of evolving technology and skill-sets means the retention of our clients can often be questionable. And with many clients still bought on working to a project-by-project basis – What can we do to stop our clients looking else where? Improve our client service relationship, that’s what.

The extra mile we go for our clients isn’t a crowded road. Too many digital agencies are content with doing exactly what the client asks and no more. But it’s the agencies in the consultant mind-set – the ones who question briefs and offer improved solutions and generally exceed client expectation in terms of service and delivery, that will reap the rewards of high client retention figures. These are the digital agencies who will invited to internal strategy meetings…and paid accordingly.

Providing a first-class ‘service’ for your clients isn’t about smiling politely or nodding in agreement at mundane ideas – it’s about putting yourself in the clients shoes, analysing what they really want out of a piece of work – not just what they ask for. It’s about offering a value-added service that will make a difference.

Creating this champions league level client service isn’t just for the suits. It’s a wider issue that extends further than just account teams and client service personnel. The designers and developers play their part too. It’s up to them to think about whether their creation is up to the mark. They need to take that extra minute to think about the objectives when trawling through i-stock imagery or writing a piece of code. And even more significantly, it’s up to the management team to create a company culture that caters for the pinnacle in client service relationships.

It needs to be thought through. But do it now…before brand republic are publishing another press release from your competitor.

It's all about service

It's all about service

Digital Agencies: Drag your clients into the Social Media age

May 12, 2009

I read a great article by Social Media Consultant, Joanne Jacobs, the other afternoon on Selling Social Media. It really got me thinking about the significance of not only educating, but forcing our clients into building their digital marketing strategy around the web 2.0 phenomenon that is changing the way we are communicating.

Social media is not just a group of new technologies. It’s not just a Facebook fan page or sticking some social networking bookmarks at the end of a blog post.  It’s a completely new way of thinking… and it’s our job to make sure our clients ‘get it’? – No one said this was going to be easy.

Taking Twitter as an example – you’d be forgiven for thinking that is just a new way of shouting messages to the customer base like an RSS news feed. It’s not. It’s a robust tool to listen, engage and connect on a personal level with the ‘real’ people who are buying your product or service. It’s all about conversation. But getting your client to really understand this is an art form in itself.

Adopting a social media strategy is a huge learning curve. It takes time and patience to get it right and will provide even the most open-minded PR manager a migraine. But ignoring it and hoping it goes away just isn’t going to happen. We need to drag our clients into the social media age – but more than that, we need them to embrace it with both arms open – not just dip their toes in the water.

We’re here to aid our clients in the creation of conversation through social media, digest everything and provide them with statistics to show them exactly what’s going on out there.

Hardcore social media heads are getting worried about monetising social media and weakening its power. They’re insisting it’s not a ‘sellable product’ – but in Joanne’s words – “Try staying in business for the next five years without it.”

Every type of digital agency needs to take note as social media changes the digital landscape – Design & Build agencies at the flexibility and customisation options of new platforms, Media agencies at new ways of advertising and so on. The quicker we are in convincing our clients that Social media is here to stay, the better.

Drag your clients into the Social Media Age

Drag your clients into the Social Media Age

Definition of a Full Service Digital Agency

May 7, 2009

“We’re a full service digital agency” – I’ve heard it so many times. But search for a definition of what this mysterious “full service” actually means and you won’t be overwhelmed with answers. There are even hundreds of agencies bidding on the key phrase through PPC – I bet half of them couldn’t even come up with a succinct classification of the term.

As far as I am aware there are 2 schools of thought. Agencies who believe ‘full service’ means being able to provide their clients with every piece of the digital marketing puzzle. A one stop shop. Everything ranging from website design & build to media planning & buying, right through to SEO, copywriting and social media techniques. I’m not convinced.

The other is far more sophisticated, and forms the argument that ‘full service’ is being able to provide strategy, delivery and analysis. As Richard Sedley, Director of cScape Customer Engagement Unit and Course Director for Social Media at Chartered Institute of Marketing, told me “Today you can be full service with a limited focused offering”. I like this.

“Full service” doesn’t have to mean jack of all trades. In fact, it shouldn’t mean that at all. Nowadays clients need specialists; people who know their discipline intimately and who can work with the client from conception of the idea to delivering the end product, and then studying its performance. This is where the real skill and expertise comes in. Many large agencies have recognised this and segmented their digital offering under the umbrella of their strong brand name – many haven’t. And lets get this straight – calling yourself  ‘full service’ is no unique selling point.

Marketeers have diluted the term “full service” and spun it into a fluffy phrase to try and sell clients more of their agency’s’ services. They’ve missed the point completely.

(Thanks to Richard Sedley of Cscape for his opinions and Jon Marks of LBi for a kick up the back-side to write this post!)

Definition of a full service digital agency

Definition of a full service digital agency

Digital Agencies – 5 Tips for winning new business

May 1, 2009

I really enjoyed reading a recent blog post from Econsultancy on 5 top tips to win new business in a recession. Created for ‘consultants’ it’s easily applicable to digital agencies (we are consultants after all!).

 The 5 top tips are detailed below with some feedback:

Don’t stop investing – EXACTLY. So many times I’ve said that digital agencies should be investing in new technologies, new innovations and new ways of thinking – especially when times are tough. Differentiating from the competition is a great way of gaining new business and giving yourself that cutting edge that will win pitches. Even if the client isn’t looking for anything that’s going to win a webby – knowing they are working with a progressive, ambitious agency goes a long way.

Cut costs by cutting clients – INTERESTING. I’ve seen this work both ways – for smaller agencies wanting to progress on to bigger and better – cutting clients that are holding them back is a must. It’s a fine line though and sometimes you have to go back to go forwards if that makes sense!

 Don’t undercharge – SPOT ON. Undervaluing the service your offering is a seriously bad move for digital agencies. Although clients are looking to make cost savings, it’s making a rod for your back. If your credentials/proven track record is strong enough, you shouldn’t have to slash your prices.

 Build your skill set. – OBVIOUS. Similar to the first point, building on new skills or developing threshold skills further during a recession is vital to digital agencies. There is always someone willing to go that extra bit further.

 Deliver, deliver, deliver – VITALI think they must have read a previous blog post of mine when deciding on this one! – The key to getting more work is creating great work for your clients. It may sound obvious, but the best relationships are the long term ones, don’t give your clients the excuse to look at other agencies.

Digital Agencies - 5 tips to win new business

Digital Agencies - 5 tips to win new business