Ad Age editor: Agencies need to help clients hit quarterly numbers

Ad Age editor: Agencies need to help clients hit quarterly numbers
Written by: Karl Sakas

At this week’s ADWKDC 2016 conference, I asked Ad Age editor-in-chief Rance Crain what agencies should be doing to succeed in the future of our industry. He shared:

Client-agency relationships today are at their lowest ebb ever. Agencies are frustrated because clients don’t want to build brands any more—clients are more interested in their quarterly numbers.

It’s a dilemma—clients don’t appreciate agencies’ key services as much as in the past. To solve this, agencies need to find new ways to promote products and help clients meet their quarterly profits.

That’s a tough challenge. Let’s look at how some agencies are working to find a balance in solving this problem.

Creative solutions to meet clients’ ROI goals

Agencies are stepping up and meeting clients’ needs by focusing more on the bottom line. They produce content designed to drive metrics, measure results, and convert creatively. Here are three examples.

Only measure what you need to, ignore the rest

“Start with clearly defined goals and objectives. Not what you “think” is the goal, but what is outlined and agreed upon by whomever signs your paycheck.” – How to Show Your Contribution to the Bottom Line

With so many tools out there, it’s easy to collect plenty of data from your customers, sales cycle, and website. Yet not all of that data is important.

Marketing agencies need to focus on the metrics that are important to their processes and the bottom line, not bombard their clients with numbers they don’t understand. It’s a waste of time, and doesn’t paint a clear picture. Agencies and clients should jointly plan for measurement, clarifying the numbers that are important for both sides, and why.

Remember, you need to think like a personal trainer—your agency needs to get results for clients, but also convey the value on why clients should keep working with you.

Produce offsite content to reach those outside your network

Helpdesk software provider Groove reached more than a million people through guest blogs, and was able to measure trial signups from this traffic. An agency can do the same on behalf of their clients, and create white label content to be published under their client’s name.

Fractl, an agency in Florida that creates engaging web experiences, worked with client BuzzStream to create offsite content with a link back to the marketing software firm’s site. Fractl crafted research-heavy, evergreen, and gated content. As a result, BuzzStream broke its record for new user signups—a direct contribution to the bottom line.

Re-purpose content for quick, converting materials

If your agency can gain access to the metrics of a clients’ website, you can track goal completion in a content marketing campaign and translate that to dollars, using tools like Google Analytics or Woopra.

For example, in Woopra you can create funnels to see how many visitors to a particular blog article went to your sign-up page and purchased a paid plan. A content marketing agency could then take the blog posts that successfully converted visitors to paying customers, and re-purpose that content into an infographic, SlideShare post, webinar, or eBook to get further reach and even more signups. It takes less time than creating completely new content from scratch—a win for both you and the client—and you’ve already demonstrated momentum.

Where to go from here

Think back to what Rance Crain said—agencies want to build brands while clients want to grow their numbers.

If you work with publicly-traded clients—or clients who want results yesterday—you need to find a way to balance this. It certainly creates opportunities for potentially lucrative value-based pricing, versus hourly or milestone-based work.

If you’re not comfortable working with clients who demand ROI, you can always decline to work with them—but you’ll face a shrinking market.

Question: How are you handling this pressure from clients?

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