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Establishing a Trusted Client-Agency Relationship

So Happy Together: The Ingredients for a Successful Partnership Between Clients and Their Marketing Agency

Fostering a trusted client-agency relationship can be tricky, and that’s held true even before first impressions involved securing solid WiFi and making sure that your pet isn’t about to photobomb the Zoom kickoff call. 

So, whether it’s your first time working with an agency to help execute a specific project, or if you’re well-versed in introducing a third-party team to round out your pool of marketing resources, we want to help alleviate the awkwardness of getting to know each other – especially during these very different times. 

Here’s the scoop on what clients should know before officially kicking off a client-agency relationship.

We need to understand how each other’s businesses work.

We love process, and everything we do is purposeful so we both get the most out of our relationship. It’s our job to walk you through the structure of our work and map out the steps we’ll be taking to inform our working relationship and the success of a project. If there’s a milestone we need to hit, you’ll know about it. 

We also want to have a solid understanding of what you do and how your organization ticks. So, we’re going to ask you a ton of questions. It’s not a test – your answers are what form the basis of our work.  A critical part of our up-front discovery is working with you to understand how your industry works, what your unique service offering (or product, or solution) provides, and how you currently position yourself in the market. It’s the only way we can shape an effective marketing strategy. 

We need to be equally invested. 

At times, it may seem like we’re poking holes in your marketing plan. Please remember this is only because we want to deliver on the promise we’ve made to you. The stakes are high on both sides. For you, as the client, it might be pressure to meet a targeted ROI, conversion rates, or hitting a sky-high yearly sales goal. For us, it’s about doing our job to support you to the very best of our ability. If we, as a larger team, don’t meet our goals, we’ve got to work together to identify why not, and how we can best optimize the approach to get there. When we meet (or exceed!) our shared goals, it’s a joint celebration.

We need to define the roles of working together.

Ever been one of 12 recipients copied on an email chain and unsure who is supposed to respond? Yeah, we don’t like that either. When we first embark on our new client-agency relationship, we take the time to understand the stakeholders on your team, as well as introduce you to the dedicated people on our team assigned to your specific engagement. There will never be a day when you don’t know who to go to for a certain aspect of your project. We like to clearly identify roles so both parties understand all and any responsibilities and expectations.

Speaking of roles, let’s talk about the feedback and approval process.

Sharing content feedback can be tricky, especially if the collection method is not consistent and the stakeholders responsible for reviewing are not identified (see above). We have the tools in place to establish a consistent approach for sharing consolidated feedback that works for both parties (no more chasing down multiple spreadsheets!) and of course, we’ll share helpful reminders in terms of the timeframe feedback is required in order to stick to the schedule.

When giving feedback, we want you to be honest.

It’s really hard to hurt our feelings. Trust us. We wouldn’t work at an agency if that was the case – we are used to taking feedback and making the right adjustments to deliver what you want. So, if we missed the mark, please say so. Part of ensuring we’re set up for long-term success is learning what you like, and more importantly, what you don’t. Even more, please tell us why. The more transparent feedback, the better. 

Regular, Open Communication. 

On the topic of transparency, we’ve got to keep the lines of communication wide open. We don’t want to be a name on the other side of an inbox. Face-to-face meetings are essential, even if they’re on Zoom, and we believe a quick phone call in place of an email can do wonders in terms of efficiently getting things done. We’ll be checking in often to make sure we’re on track, sharing updates on project health, budget, keeping you apprised well in advance of any timeline adjustments – and we’ll check in to make sure you feel good about things, too.

It seems pretty simple, right? Ultimately, we want you to feel like we are an accessible part of your marketing team. Entire marketing teams simply do not work in one room together anymore. In fact, it’s not uncommon if brands we work with have teams that span continents. All that aside, at the end of the day, it’s our job to integrate ourselves into your team, bridging the gap between agency and client to drive tangible, successful results.

What Consumers Want, Today

How The Times Are Changing

Are you up with the times? This is a question you might find people asking you as the world rapidly changes and evolves. In the year 2020, what exactly do consumers want and how are we helping them get what they want? Perhaps more importantly, how are we helping consumers get what they want in the way that they want it?

Many of us have noticed a perceptible shift in the current landscape towards ideas such as sustainability, charity, and community forward companies and businesses. This shift is resulting in a need to refine our marketing strategies, most noticeably when targeting the teen to mid-thirties age demographic of consumers.

In today’s world, it’s less about opting out of eco-friendly options and more about the backlash you’ll experience if you don’t adopt this trend. Consumers are eager to see transparent moral codes and ethics represented by companies, and genuinely believe that their involvement and interactions with these companies matters beyond the individual. In fact, many consumers believe what they buy and how they buy it has lasting global implications.

What Moments Matter?

Examples of these “eco-moments” (which might now seem ubiquitous) from the early 2000s include Tesla’s 2008 Roadster, a USD 100,000 electric supercar. In 2016, Adidas partnered with Parley for the Oceans to produce a limited-edition line of sneakers made from recycled ocean plastic.

Also in 2016, NYC’s Momofuku Nishi became the first restaurant worldwide to offer the Impossible Burger. Audiences were eager to applaud these companies and the energy directed towards the perceived “greater good” of humanity. This move towards leveraging consumer ideas about sustainability was a clever trend to follow as all three companies experienced growing sales and positive receptions across the board.

The reality is that if you are unable to gear or position yourself towards this changing landscape, you might very well be left somewhere far behind your competition. If, however, you can change and adapt, perhaps adding some unique flair, you’ll find your audience growing.

Take a look at the following statistics from Sprout Social:

  • Connection breeds loyalty and bottom-line growth. Investing in relationships with consumers directly impacts business revenue and strengthens customer loyalty. When customers feel connected to brands, more than half of consumers (57%) will increase their spending with that brand and 76% will buy from them over a competitor.
  • Real people are the key to authentic relationships. Consumers want to learn more about the people behind their favorite brands. Seventy percent of consumers, for example, report feeling more connected when a brand’s CEO is active on social. Additionally, 72% of consumers report feeling similarly when employees share information about a brand online.
  • People want brands to connect them to other people. And they don’t mean only those with similar mindsets. Sixty-two percent believe social can unify people of different backgrounds and beliefs, and more than half (52%) expressed interest in connecting with individuals different from them.

Putting It All Together

Providing what consumers want means you should focus on the human necessity for connection. As stated above, consumers want brands that make them feel connected to the causes they feel passionate about. Furthermore, in a COVID 19 world, we are increasingly moved by genuine human interactions. By connecting consumers to one another, but also to the larger picture, you’ll position yourself to change along with the world.

Next Steps

Establish ground rules. Work as a team to develop a transparent model for your internal ethics and morals that you can share with your audience. Make sure your brand is authentic and true to you. Make sure that your brand is connecting people to people, contact us today. Above all, ask yourself, what is your moral code?

During COVID-19, Remote Customer Management is More Important Than Ever

How to Effectively Manage Customer Relationships Remotely with the Right Marketing Services

In-person customer interactions are a pretty major component of most business operations, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have had to rely heavily on remote customer management.

Social distancing parameters have had different implications for different businesses depending on the industry in which they operate, and technology is playing a leading role in almost every scenario.

eCommerce, teleconferencing, and other digital communications like email and chat are helping businesses maintain customer connections and continue offering consultations or products and services.

Maintaining business continuity has been a top priority during COVID-19, and as we’ve all struggled to get our footing in a world of social distancing, establishing this continuity through basic online interactions and communications has been sufficient.

But now that we’ve moved into the third month of the pandemic and many businesses are continuing to follow social distancing guidelines, we want to discuss a second component to remote customer management that goes beyond direct interactions.

Tracking Customer Behavior and Digital Performance to Provide Better Remote Service

To ensure your business continues to respond to and service your customers effectively, monitoring and tracking specific metrics is critical.

In a non-pandemic world, this type of data helps inform the best ways for your business to communicate and interact with your customers. And ideally, you’re already tracking some if not all of this information.

But during social distancing, these metrics not only become even more important, but can be leveraged in different ways to help your business improve customer relationships when there aren’t any in-person interactions to fall back on.

The bonus is that once things return to some semblance of normally, you’ll be in the driver’s seat for continued success.

How’s Your Website Doing?

Not every company’s website was poised and ready to take on pandemic-level traffic and demand.

B2B technology companies have experienced an influx of help desk tickets and customer service requests as businesses grapple with implementing remote technologies for their employees and customers.

Other companies have had to quickly implement eCommerce capabilities to keep products moving.

And still others have scrambled to add chat features and update website information to keep customers informed during this time.

With those specific adjustments made to accommodate this world of social distancing, what’s next? We recommend paying attention to how your website is performing so you can better respond and better serve your customers – not just now, but in the future.

You should be tracking:

  • How your customers are arriving at your site. Was it through search, from another site, from an ad, or from your social media platform? When you know how people found you, you can more easily capitalize on that information to drive more traffic.
  • What content your customers are engaging with. Once they get to your website, what pages are they viewing and for how long? What content are they clicking on? When you know what content is most interesting to your customers, you can amplify it and help drive their journey through your site.
  • Specific calls-to-action your customers are taking. If your customers download content, fill out a contact form, or make a purchase, you can track their path to making those decisions, and leverage the information they have now provided you to better serve them going forward.

When it comes to remote customer management, the more you can improve your customers’ experience and be present, the more they will engage with you and establish a brand connection that will continue past the pandemic.

And it’s not just about net new customers. Customers who already know you and have engaged with you before will expect your online experience to be an equal representation of the experience you would provide in person.

COVID-19 Equals Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

We’ve discussed previously that brands shouldn’t “go dark” during the pandemic, but rather find ways to communicate with their customers that show empathy and a pivot toward helpful, educational intentions.

Email correspondence is a great way to retain communications with your customers without overwhelming them, and if you send a newsletter or monthly email, track their engagement with your content to better understand what messages are resonating (or not).

You should be tracking:

  • Open rates. How many emails were opened? Who opened them? If you have a low open rate, be aware of whether it’s associated with a specific type of content and make adjustments to increase opens with your next send.
  • Click-through rate. Did recipients click on your email’s call-to-action to view content, visit your site, or initiate a download? If so, you can now use that information to track their behavior and follow up with a relevant communication to keep them engaged.

Your content shouldn’t be focused on your brand or making a sale, but on your customers. Educational information or purchase discounts can go a long way during this time, and the more you know about your customers and their behavior, the more accurately you can serve them up content that they’ll appreciate right now.

Social Distancing Has Created a Social Media Boom

People are home, and whether they’re working remotely or simply weathering the pandemic until they can return to work, social media has offered a sizable escape.

If your company is already active on social, COVID-19 has presented a perfect opportunity to engage with your followers, whether by providing customer-centric updates about your business (hours, eCommerce opportunities, product sales, etc.), adding some levity with memes, or providing educational content.

During COVID-19, tracking engagement is useful to understand how your social media content is resonating with your audience. Respond to comments, offer helpful information, and engage with new followers. Steps you take now will pay dividends in the long run.

Technology is obviously a huge player in everyone’s ability to manage the pandemic, but companies should remember that phone calls can go a long way too. As we all find ourselves Face Timing and having phone conversations with our friends and family in lieu of just texting, businesses can capitalize on the same methods.

When in-person interactions aren’t possible, making your business available to your customers via phone can go a long way in reinforcing their loyalty and demonstrating company’s empathy and awareness during this time.

Plus, given the much more personalized nature of a phone call, your company is poised to establish more meaningful relationships with your customers this way, which will only elevate your customer service post-pandemic.

Fishnet Media works with companies in diverse industries to track user behaviors, digital performance metrics, and other online activities to ensure they are reaching their customers in the right ways.

During COVID-19, we have taken specific steps to help our clients maintain these customer relationships remotely, and position them for greater success after the pandemic.

If you would like to implement stronger remote customer management tools and tactics, contact us today.

Working From Home During COVID-19: How the Pandemic is Reshaping Business Functions

What Does the Current Remote Working Environment Mean for the Future of Work?

While remote work positions are nothing new, the widespread necessity of working from home during COVID-19 is a first for many companies.

The sudden shift from office to home required a lot of last-minute adjustments so businesses could enable their employees to work remotely. These adjustments became especially cumbersome for companies with multiple office locations and large numbers of employees. Files stored on company servers had to be made available to everyone from their homes through VPNs. Internal and client meetings moved to virtual conferencing apps like Zoom and GoToMeeting. And many company leaders found themselves rethinking daily workflows and processes to ensure minimal interruptions to business and their employees’ ability to accomplish tasks.

Nearly two months have passed since remote working began for companies that were able to make the transition. Much of those adjustments have been ironed out and many work-from-home employees have settled into a “new normal” – albeit a challenging one as school closures, social distancing, and a highly uncertain economy further complicate life in general. 

We understand that everyone’s work situation during COVID-19 is vastly different; before the pandemic, only 29% of Americans were able to work from home. But with this very sudden onset of the world’s largest work-from-home experiment (dubbed as such by Time), it begs the question – how could it change the future of work?

Paying Off a Trend Toward Working Remotely in a Way No One Expected

Before COVID-19 hit, many companies had instituted work-from-home policies and found success in doing so. Dell, for example, was already aiming to have 50% of its workforce working remotely by 2020, citing a desire to show their employees that leadership encouraged flexibility and trusted them to be organized and meet their daily professional priorities.

Many employees say they are more productive when they work from home – in fact, a survey by Airtasker found that remote workers actually work more than three additional weeks per year, are distracted for less time during the day, and are interrupted less frequently during the day than their office counterparts.

In 2019, Forbes called remote working “the new normal”, asserting that the advances in technology coupled with changing employee expectations were pushing many workplace positions in a remote-work direction. 

Then, COVID-19 hit and pushed thousands of companies around the world into a work-from-home scenario that only some were prepared for. 

And despite the fact that there was already a trend toward working from home,  the widespread necessity during COVID-19 has set off a firestorm of polarized speculation – will workers want to come back to the office once the restrictions are lifted? Will companies that experience success with remote working rethink how their business operates? Will employees begin demanding more work-from-home options? 

Of course, we don’t know. But what is clear is that working from home during this period of social distancing is likely to have a fundamental impact on the future of work. Here are a few outcomes that may occur:

  1. Companies that made specific investments to make working from home more possible, comfortable, and accommodating for employees (such as purchasing standing desks or updating their VPN for widespread remote access) may institute more flexible work from home options in the future to capitalize on those initial efforts.
  2. Companies that successfully managed a remote work environment during COVID-19 will likely view working from home as more doable than they may have before the pandemic hit.
  3. Employees who were new to working from home during COVID-19 may discover benefits such as greater productivity and flexibility that influence their preferences for at-home work environments.
  4. Employees working from home during COVID-19 may find it lonely or tedious given the length of the quarantine, or simply not feasible for the type of work they do or their at-home setting.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have made the transition to remote working happen a lot sooner than the more gradual progression being predicted, but how companies across the country will react once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted remains to be seen. 

Easing the Transition Back to the Workplace Post-COVID-19

A big part of the transition back to an office setting once restrictions for social distancing are lifted will be whether employees feel safe after so many weeks of living through the pandemic. It is up to companies to help their employees feel like they can go back to work without exposing themselves to any health risks related to the COVID-19 virus. 

There are a few key steps companies can take to make the workplace safe and welcoming after a return to work:

  • Ensure the workplace has been recently cleaned and is ready for employees to safely return
  • Provide employees with masks, cleaning solutions, and hand sanitizer to allow them to maintain control over their workspaces and personal health.
  • Make adjustments to the office layout to ensure employees can maintain at least 6 feet between each other.
  • Stagger any work-related activities that would normally require numerous people to be together in one room, such as large company meetings.
  • Ensure your office space has effective air circulation, especially if windows cannot be opened to due weather or the office itself.
  • Before reopening the office to employees, communicate frequently with them about plans to return to work and the office setting to ensure you answer their questions and instill confidence in the office atmosphere.
  • Be understanding of employees who may not feel comfortable with returning to work, or may not be ready. Some larger companies should consider staggering employee returns so the office isn’t completely full at any point for a certain amount of time.
  • Be mindful of employee health – encourage anyone with health concerns that begin after returning to work to immediately remain home.

What Working From Home During COVID-19 Has Taught Us

If your company is one that was able to transition to a remote working environment to weather the COVID-19 storm, you’ve likely faced challenges whether you were already allowing employees to work from home. 

One thing every company has learned during this time is that allowing employees to work from home is vastly different from having to transition your entire business to a remote setup. 

We also know that the transition back to the office once COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted will present its own challenges.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has also reinforced the importance of working together – we’ve seen this outcome everywhere, from live television shows that have moved to virtual mash-ups, to the heightened use of conferencing apps and video chats among friends and family. 

With personal relationships and within work environments, social distancing has arguably led to a greater focus on communication and collaboration simply because those things take a bit more effort these days – and we hope to see these outcomes continue post-COVID-19.