Hub spot ebook_-_why_you_get_fired

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  • 1. 1 [AGENCY EBOOK] WHY YOU GET FIRED The most frequent breaking points in the client/agency relationship & how to avoid them. A Publication of HubSpot s Partner Program
  • 2. 2 ABOUT THE AUTHOR Julie Devaney is a Director with the HubSpot Services Team, managing a team in Cambridge, as well as the international services organization in Dublin, Ireland. Prior to management, she was an account manager for the HubSpot VAR channel, and has worked closely with hundreds of agencies. Before HubSpot, Julie was a Human Capital Consultant with Deloitte Consulting, working around the country with clients to lead strategic change and technology adoption projects. Julie is from the Greater Boston area and a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University Schreyer Honors College. @jalicedev
  • 3. 3 TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction / 4 Who Does What?/ 8 Don’t Become an Order-Taker/ 13 Vet the Relationship/ 18 Close the Loop/ 21 Conclusion / 24 More Resources / 26
  • 4. 4 INTRODUCTION THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN AGENCY AND CLIENT
  • 5. 5 A MARRIAGE / INTRODUCTION The relationship between marketing agencies and their clients is a lot like a marriage. You meet, you court, you fall in love, you get married. Then, like all good marriages, you enjoy a honeymoon. It could be a few weeks or a few months.   After that, like any marriage, you come to a fork in the road. You will either go on to live happily ever after or you will experience the business equivalent of a divorce – you will get fired. Dumped. Canned.   It all seemed so good, so promising. You signed a contract, they were paying their retainers (and on time, at that!). You were optimizing their SEO, ghostwriting their blogs, tweeting, posting fabulous things for them on Facebook, and doing the things their business needed done to generate more traffic and drive more leads. k
  • 6. THE HONEYMOON IS OVER Then, one day, your normally hyper-responsive client doesn’t return the emails or texts you sent. You left a voice mail, but that wasn’t returned the same day as they usually are. When you finally do connect, that enthusiasm in their voice is gone. You weren’t ‘feeling the love.’ You soon get that one-line email that says, “Can you send me a copy of our contract?” Your gut tells you those retainer checks won’t be coming much longer. k k X
  • 7. 7 HINDSIGHT IS ALWAYS 20/20 You should have seen it coming, right? The last-minute canceled meetings, the questions about what it is that you do exactly, the way they no longer look you in the eye.   Then, they pull the trigger. You’re not really providing any value, they’re not seeing the results they expected, they can do this themselves. You’re fired. Adios, amigo.   So, where did you go wrong? You didn’t hit Reply All when you thought you were just telling your co-worker you thought the outfit the client wore at lunch today was inappropriate. You didn’t post a picture of them at the Christmas party on their Facebook page or yours.   L 20/20 After studying more than 500 of these ‘breakup conversations,’ we’ve learned that it’s almost never a major screw-up that leads an agency to getting fired; it’s a lot of little things that add up over time.   You know, just like a marriage – leaving the toilet seat up, saying things like “You’re not planning to wear that, are you?” or answering “Do I look fat in this?” the wrong way (which, by the way, is a trick question; there’s no right way to answer that one).   This ebook discusses the most common mistakes we’ve made so that you’re not on the receiving end of even the kinder, gentler version of getting fired – “It’s not you, it’s us” – followed by, “Send us your final invoice.”
  • 8. 8 CHAPTER 1 AFTER “I DO,” WHO DOES WHAT?
  • 9. 9 AFTER “I DO,” WHO DOES WHAT? Like a marriage, agency-client relationships often end because both parties aren’t clear about what to expect from the other.   Like everything else in the Internet age, agencies need to be transparent with their clients if the relationship is to succeed.   It’s not enough to have a contract. Ask any lawyer and you’ll find out there are plenty of ways to interpret the exact same words in an agreement.   You may think the contract means one thing while the client thinks it means something else. Or, they may place more emphasis on one aspect of the agreement than you think it deserves so you don’t emphasize it when you execute the work for them.
  • 10. 10 1. REVIEW THE AGREEMENT r Sit down with the client and go over the agreement orally several times.   Try to find different ways to repeat the terms of the contract and how you will execute it so that everyone’s expectations are the same.   Some clients may say they don’t care about such minutiae, but it bears asking them to hear you out. If they don’t understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you will get it done, they aren’t as vested in the relationship and ultimately, they don’t find value in it. And, if they don’t value in what you do, sooner or later you will get fired.   Try to find little things they can do to be part of the process. Ask them for blog topics, enlist their help getting staff photos for Facebook posts, something that engages them in your work together.   Even if they ask to be kept out of the loop, strive for at least a 30-minute monthly meeting to go over goals and what you’ve accomplished.   If one partner doesn’t understand what’s it like to have to do the dishes every night and the other has no idea what’s involved in keeping the yard presentable, neither has an appreciation of the effort it takes to do both.
  • 11. 11 2. DEFINE DEFINITION Famously (or infamously, your call), during his impeachment trial, former President Clinton said, “That depends on what the definition of is is.”   That may be a bit of overparsing, but we were surprised to learn how many people who fired their agency did so because they didn’t fully understand the terms of the contract and the definitions within them.   Some of the more common terms, conditions, and arrangements frequently misunderstood or misinterpreted include: 1 2 Contract Length Go over what you expect the client to do, when, and for how long. If you signed a six-month agreement, payable on the 1st of the month, late on the 10th, be sure they understand they are liable for six months of payments due on the 1st of every month. Communication Establish up front how often the client will hear from you and, as appropriate, how often, you expect feedback from them. Will it be a daily call? Weekly? Monthly? Will it be one thing at the beginning of the relationship and something different down the line? Make sure everyone is clear about your communications arrangement.
  • 12. 3 4 Activity & Results Although you may not be able to promise specific results, you can identify the activities and services you will provide and the goals you will target on the client’s behalf. An example might be: The agency will provide three blog posts per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), between 500 and 600 words each with a goal of increasing readership by 100 percent within 120 days and lead generation by 15 percent within six months. Costs & Communications Nobody likes surprises on an invoice. Be clear from the start what charges your clients can expect. If there will be Web or application development charges, marketing software licenses (such as HubSpot), ad placement charges, or any other fees, let the client know what to expect and, as best you can, how much. w Good surprises sustain a relationship. Bad surprises are relationship killers.
  • 13. 13 CHAPTER 2 DON’T BECOME AN ORDER TAKER
  • 14. 14 DON’T BECOME AN ORDER TAKER Even if the client understands the terms and definition of your contract, even if they’ve bought in to why they need to be actively engaged with your agency, there is still the possibility of the relationship souring.   It often starts with a simple request, for example, putting together an infographic or looking at a couple of paragraphs in an email blast the client intends to send on their own.   Your gut reaction is to think, “Cool, more money for us.” The truth is, the client just niggled their way into taking control of the relationship in ways that can hurt you and them. Why? Not because these things may be outside the scope of the contract per se, but because they may be outside the scope of the strategy you and the client agreed on.   If you help with an email, if you create an infographic, if tweak the keywords in SEO, you may start bringing the scope of your work out of alignment with the goals and strategies you agreed to. From there, it’s a slippery slope to the client questioning why they’re paying more but not seeing more or better results. And before you know it, you and your client are a couple no more. n n
  • 15. 15 SIDEBAR: WHY I FIRED MY AGENCY Look at Brian Signorelli’s blog post, “Why I Fired My Marketing Agency.” He offers the following three tips for agency owners and managers: 1. Don't Forget Why You Were Hired Keep sight of why you were hired. Keep sight of the goals, pursue them relentlessly. 2. Challenge (the Hell Out of) Your Clients’ Assumptions Chances are your clients have a good reason for wanting to “figure this social media thing out” or why they need a new website. But maybe not. Ask “Why?” and don’t move forward until you understand why they’re needed and how they tie into the strategy and goals you’ve set. 3. Measure Your Impact on the Client's Business Measure Analyze. Repeat. If you want those retainer checks to keep coming, you need to demonstrate your impact on the bottom line. Solid, credible analytics are your best friend. Really. It all comes down to staying focused on the goals and the strategies behind them. When a new request comes in that’s outside the parameters of your goals and strategies, try asking these questions: Why do you think doing this is necessary? What is our goal in doing this? How does this new goal align with our previous goals? What results are you expecting when we do this? Asking these questions demonstrates a genuine concern for your clients. They will appreciate your sincerity instead of being someone who just blindly accepts tasks to make a buck.
  • 16. 16 CHAPTER 2 VET THE RELATIONSHIP
  • 17. 17 VET THE RELATIONSHIP This relationship, this marriage, has to work for both parties or it is destined to come apart. There are four key areas in which you should qualify the relationship: 1.  2.  3.  4.  B.A.N.T. G.P.C.T. Culture Resources & Logistics   Budget, authority, needs, time (BANT) covers the fundamentals of any agency-client relationship. Nothing moves forward with these items being addressed. With the basics taken into account, you next need to look at the long-term issues, the goals, plans, challenges, and timelines (GPCT) that will shape the relationship. Too many agencies tend to overlook whether they and their clients are a good fit in terms of each organization’s culture. This isn’t some big screen romance where love conquers all, it’s a business relationship and it’s important that you share common values and attitudes about how to achieve your mutual goals. Finally, you need to have the resources to do the job, the personnel, skills, and technology. And, the relationship has to fit within the framework that is contemporary life. Say what you will, but geography matters, time zones count. Be sure you have the people to do the job and you understand the limitations time and distance impose if those are going to be part of your relationship. y y
  • 18. 18 VET THE BANT & GPCT Of the four qualifying areas, address these things first: budget, authority, needs, and time (BANT). If you can’t get past this, the rest doesn’t matter.   Budget - What you do is valuable and it costs money. If they have no budget, either for you or the things you recommend they do, there’s no point in going any further.   Authority - It may sound obvious but make sure you are speaking with the person who has the authority to hire you.   Needs - Understand what your client needs. It’ll come in handy later when you determine whether your agency can fulfill those needs.   Time - Are they ready to begin work now or are they still kicking the tires? Once you know their timeline, you can plan accordingly. Know a client’s goals, plans, challenges, and timelines (GPCT) will help you flesh out where this relationship is headed.   Goals - Can’t meet their goals if you don’t know what they are.   Plans - Do their plans to meet their goals include inbound marketing? If not, why are you there at all?   Challenges - Determine which challenges are keeping them from meeting their goals so you know if you have the solutions they need.   Timelines - Inbound marketing usually show results pretty quickly. But getting results and meeting goals are two different things. Make sure everyone has realistic expectations of the timelines needed to meet the goals you set.
  • 19. 19 VET THE CULTURE You might have the resources to help a client and they may have the budget to get the work done, but too often, agencies overlook whether or not a client is a good fit for them culturally.   If the work the client needs is not something you’re passionate about doing, you may not give them their due. You will do the work but only because you need the money. Yes, everybody needs money, but partnering up with a company about whose work you care little about can only lead to a negative experience for you both.   Make sure the client’s culture and your agency’s culture are a good fit. If they’re a button-down, strictly by the rules kind of company and yours is an agency that likes to experiment and push the envelope now and again, maybe you’re not right for this job.   Think back on the clients you enjoyed working with and try to find those types going forward. J
  • 20. 20 VET THE CULTURE You can be as creative as you want, but there are certain realities every agency faces.   You must have the staff necessary to meet this new client’s needs. Otherwise, you risk jeopardizing your other accounts by reassigning precious human resources from existing clients to work for this new one.   If the client is in a different time zone and the work is time-sensitive, are you prepared for those immutable laws of physics? East coast/West coast sometimes works to your advantage; at other times, depending on the client’s schedule, it means 5:00 a.m. conference calls or 8:00 p.m. meetings.   What’s the contact frequency? Is your client expecting you to be on-call for texts, emails, and phone calls anytime they want? Every day? Nights and weekends? Whatever you decide is fine as long as you decide it together and everyone is clear about what’s been agreed upon.   Many clients are unfamiliar with all the moving parts involved in creating and sustaining a successful inbound marketing initiative. If your client(s) are among those uninitiated in the ways of inbound, set aside some time to give them at least a fundamental education in the basics of inbound marketing. It will make the rest of the relationship go more smoothly as you execute various stages of the strategy.   Inbound marketing relies heavily on technology. You know that, the client knows that. But do they know enough to implement those programs? Operate these programs? Maintain them? Depending on their level of experience, keep in mind you may need to invest time in helping them get up to speed on some of the technologies you will implement to get the job done for them.
  • 21. 21 CHAPTER 3 CLOSE THE LOOP
  • 22. 22 CLOSE THE LOOP Not everyone can see the big picture, or in this case, the whole picture. For many clients, inbound marketing is an entirely new way of thinking about marketing. It’s essential that you illustrate, then demonstrate, the way inbound marketing works from first click through the sales funnel to buy and back again.   Show the client how you got them found, persuaded prospects to take an action, give you their information, to buy, and then perhaps share their experience with someone in their social network.   Show them how you monitor and then analyze the results of your efforts and use those metrics and analyses to improve their bottom line.   Then, do it again and again. You’ve got to reinforce the mechanics and strategy of how closed loop, inbound marketing works for clients several times at least before they ‘get it.’   M= F+ q g Content Promotion Clients
  • 23. 23 Y THE END IS THE BEGINNING Taking the clients through the inbound marketing process reinforces the strategy. It also naturally leads to determining what’s next every time you reach the analysis phase. Share what’s working and what’s not with your clients to improve your tactics. Don’t, however, fall into the trap of using analysis as the final act. Metrics are merely the means to an end, reaching the client’s goals. And, those goals, you recall, are why you were hired. That sets you up to continue the relationship, time and again.
  • 24. 24 CONCLUSION
  • 25. 25 CONCLUSION To keep any marketing agency-client relationship alive and sustainable, you’ve got to think like a client.   Every time you send an invoice, consciously or unconsciously, your clients are asking themselves a bunch of questions like: Why did we hire these guys? Do we still need them? Is this worth what we’re paying them? Are we making progress? Are we seeing the results they promised? Are these the best guys for the job?   Remember, it’s usually a lot of little things that add up to the decision to terminate a an agency relationship. If you are aware of, and address, those things from the start and keep focused on them throughout the relationship, you’re in a much better position to sustain the relationship for years.   Focus on:   •  •  •  •  •  Keeping your clients engaged in the inbound marketing process Making sure they understand what you do and what they do Making sure they’re clear on the terms of the deal What it takes in resources and commitment to get the job done right Closing the loop – keeping your agency and the client focused on the goals, strategy, and process that enables those goals   You may not keep every client every time. But at least if you do get served with those divorce papers you won’t say, “Boy, I should’ve seen that coming.”
  • 26. 26 MORE RESOURCES
  • 27. 27 MORE RESOURCES / HUBSPOT Our Channel Account Managers help hundreds of online services agencies understand how the Four Core service offerings of inbound marketing can help them earn more retainer clients and grow their business. Request a Strategic Consultation to Learn How Inbound can Help your Agency Grow. www.bit.ly/AgencyTalk
  • 28. 28 www.hubspot.com/partners A Publication of HubSpot s Partner Program