By Shannon Delmarle

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I’ve been working in marketing for nearly a decade now, and along the way, I have earned my bumps, bruises, and battle scars in figuring out what makes a great collaboration between strategist and client. When working with a marketing agency, here are some insider tips that you should know for the most successful partnership:

1. The Agency Is a Part of Your Team, Not Here to Take Your Job

When I onboard a new client, the first thing I want them to realize is that I want to make them look good because their success is my success. Not only does this position me as their partner, but it also lowers any suspicions that my agency was hired to take over their role. In fact, some of the most successful partnerships between a client and agency happen between the client’s marketing director and the agency’s marketing strategist. 

What does this mean for  collaboration? Make sure that the agency is:

    • Part of your marketing strategies
    • Aware of upcoming events that you might be a part of
    • Up to speed on the sponsorships you are involved with
    • Invited to any webinars that you are hosting or cohosting 

Knowing what you have on your docket and bringing your marketing strategist up to speed paves the way for true teamwork and a ton of creative ideas. 

Need help setting marketing goals, comparing agencies, and getting prepared for  an agency partnership? This guide will help.    

2. The Agency Wants You to Be Up to Date and Self-Educated on the Basics of Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, and Inbound Marketing

Some might question this, but the more up to date a client is on digital marketing, the more elevated the campaigns and ideas can be. If the client and strategist use the same lingo, then less time will need to be spent educating the client on the basics, and more time will be available for structuring successful campaigns. 

At the very least, you should: 

    • Understand the importance of goal setting. Your marketing strategist shouldn’t create any content or campaigns until the goals have been set and approved by the client. This way, strategist and client will both be working toward the same goals, and their ideas will be laser focused around those goals. 
    • Get on the same page regarding who your target personas are. Without goals, you have no strategy, but without knowing target personas or understanding who you are trying to sell to, you have no content ideas. Knowing your target personas allows you to brainstorm some kick-ass, out-of-the-box content and campaigns. 
    • Realize that value is more vital than brand. Marketing isn’t always about brand, but it’s always about providing value to people that have a pain point and are searching for a solution. Your content should scream your brand messaging, but at the end of the day, it needs to be helpful and get the lead to the next step in the Buyer’s Journey? 
 

3. Inbound Marketing Is Not an Overnight Strategy

Inbound marketing is like a delicious winter stew that takes a while to get all of the ingredients to meld together into the perfect combination of flavors. As you cook, you might add more salt, pepper, or spices, but you won’t know if it’s good unless you take little tastes. Don’t like how it tastes? Add some salt. Love the carrots? Great, add more! 

Inbound marketing uses the same approach. The email promotion didn’t work well? Let’s refine and resend. This blog post is converting a ton of traffic? Great, let’s write more articles on the topic or create a premium thought leadership piece!

If you are looking to inbound marketing as an instant lead generation source, then you will most likely end up disappointed. Building a campaign that generates leads and nurturing those leads until they are sales-ready takes a lot of research, creativity, development, and promotion. Clients that have the most success with this marketing approach have an understanding that this is just one component of your marketing strategy and it takes time to build the right way. 

4. Learning Your Business, Industry, Competitors, and Customers Takes Time

For a true partnership, your strategist should ask you a ton of questions about your business, not because they are testing you, but because they want to learn more so they can strategize better. It’s important during these onboarding calls to have the key players from the client side available and willing to share the information so that the strategist can begin using these details to start their planning. During onboarding, it can feel like a firehose of information is being aimed at you. I promise there will be an “aha” moment when you realize the months of onboarding enabled the development of the best recommendations possible!

5. I Am a Marketing Strategist, Not the “HubSpot Person” 

HubSpot is a wonderful tool for executing inbound strategies, but that is not who I am. A contractor might use RIDGID drills and saws when working on your home, but they are not the “RIDGID guy.” There are many great marketing tools and technologies out there, and we use them to bring our strategies to life—HubSpot is simply the platform that I work in the most. 

6. A Strategist Always Recommends Strategy Before Tactics to Help Increase Your ROI

What does that mean? Shiny and new isn’t always the best way to execute your marketing or sales plans. Before you slap different tactics on the wall to see what sticks, the best approach is to base your tactics on the goals, personas, and plans that you lay out first. 

If you take anything away from this article, it should be that treating your marketing agency and strategist as part of your team creates the most success. Keep these tips in mind and trust that you hired this agency for a reason. Let them do what’s best for you. 

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Shannon Delmarle

About the author

Shannon Delmarle Shannon is a marketing strategist for SmartBug Media. She has been a HubSpot power-user since 2011 and believes in the right mix of pairing inbound marketing with traditional marketing strategies. Her experience in lead generation, lead nurturing and content marketing have helped many clients across a variety of industries. Read more articles by Shannon Delmarle.

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