Although I currently operate my own small consultancy firm, I’ve also spent some time working as a full time employee of several other agencies. Although I learned a lot from those experiences, I also learned through firsthand experience the issues that can arise from the conflicting goals of trying to make money and serving the needs of the client. Two things stand out in my mind that I try to carry with me every day. If we (as marketers and agencies) can learn from these pitfalls, I believe we can achieve a better reputation for our industry as a whole, better results for our clients, and ultimately more success for ourselves!
Lesson 1: Resist the urge to focus your client’s budgets toward billable services.
One agency experience in particular sticks out in relation to this important lesson for marketers. While working for an “inbound marketing” focused agency, I began to realize that we were forcing our client’s entire marketing budgets into activities and services that we could bill for. If they had $5k per month to spend, we’d perform $5k worth of social media work, organic search optimization (SEO) and content creation. While there is enormous value in BUILDING your online presence organically, there is also a need (especially for young businesses in competitive markets) to allocate budget toward an activities that help generate leads and customers quickly.
If you were starting a business today, would you allocate YOUR entire budget toward building things organically (a process that is likely to take months or years to pay off)?
Instead of “taking” the entire marketing budget of your client to pay for services performed, try allocating your client’s budgets in a manner that makes the most sense for them. Perhaps that means allocating $2k of that toward a monthly ad spend geared toward direct response marketing and lead generation campaigns that help produce new business quickly. Although you might think of this as money lost for your business, by producing results you’ll put yourself in a better position to make your clients happy, leading to more long-term relationships and increased customer satisfaction.
Lesson 2: Be honest, transparent and sincere in the way you serve your clients.
How would you treat your own mother if she were starting a business and solicited your assistance and advice? THAT is how you should treat the relationships you have with your clients.
I worked for an individual early on in my professional career whose primary focus was making money. He’d put a positive spin on any reports we generated, he’d charge for services he really didn’t know how to perform, and he’d do or say whatever he needed to to get and keep the cleint’s business.
This person wasn’t an inherently bad person by any means, but I believe they were blinded by their desire to make money leading to the needs of the client being a far-off second priority. This person ended up burning many bridges and earned a negative reputation in many circles as a result of this behavior. Don’t go through your daily business endeavours with the primary goal of making money for yourself or your business. If you provide honest and sincere guidance to your clients, you’ll be rewarded in the long run.
Would love to hear YOUR thoughts.