As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the marketing landscape is shifting into new and unfamiliar territories. At Yoghurt Digital, many of our clients are pulling back on heavier investment channels such as above-the-line media and PR and instead focusing their efforts on digital marketing. But that additional focus also brings additional scrutiny, with highly targeted and measurable digital marketing strategies being put under a magnifying glass. Oftentimes, team members in the client’s office who weren’t previously involved in the minutiae – such as senior management – are now inspecting digital strategies with a fine-toothed comb.
While this focus on streamlining marketing initiatives is understandable, it does make buy-in from management and decision-makers more important than ever. During these uncertain times, it’s essential that digital marketing teams reaffirm the importance and impact of their strategies to highlight their worth. Still, this is often easier said than done.
To help you cement confidence and get buy-in from all key stakeholders, we’ve rounded up our top four client management tips for the current times.
1. Understand and cater to every knowledge level
If you go in with the assumption that everyone in the room has the same level of knowledge as you, you’re setting yourself up for a loss. Oftentimes, stakeholders don’t understand the lingo. Have you ever gotten to the ‘Q&A’ slide at the end of a presentation and heard nothing but crickets? This is most likely because most people aren’t game enough to put their hand up and admit to not knowing something – so they’ll just pretend to understand. But ultimately, you can’t get buy-in if they don’t truly get it.
To avoid this, it’s worth getting an idea of who will be sitting in the room and their level of understanding ahead of time and adapting your presentation to be in line with them. That way, you can ensure everyone understands the strategy you’re putting forward, thereby creating stronger engagement and encouraging feedback and discussion as you go.
And in the event you’re unsure of the different knowledge levels in the room, or dealing with unfamiliar stakeholders? Keep it as simple as possible. This empowers people to be involved in the conversation and avoids people feeling embarrassed if they’re not quite following along.
2. Prepare for questions and plan how to navigate next steps
Every time you present your digital marketing strategy to new stakeholders, you’re guaranteed to get plenty of questions. The best way to prepare for this (and ace your answers) is to try to identify and answer likely questions well in advance. Essentially, you’ll want to prep answers that prove your worth to all stakeholders involved.
For example, if a client’s upper management wants to know why they should pay your agency to produce content instead of saving money by bringing production in-house, be prepared with answers. For example:
- “It’s most cost-effective than hiring content writers in-house”
- “It saves time on both sides by having fewer rounds of QA and revision”
- “Content written from an SEO perspective will have a better impact on organic performance”
For a bit of fun, you can get your team involved in the preparation process by having them read through your presentation, put their ‘client hat’ on, and fire away some questions for you to answer.
You should also be prepared to answer the question of whether there’s scope for your agency to do more work. This is always a popular question from upper management, but is a particularly hot topic now that in-house team sizes and work hours may have taken a hit. As an account manager, you need to know your team’s strategy inside and out so you can confidently answer all questions and avoid overpromising work that your team can’t deliver.
3. Open the door to feedback, but be prepared to stand by your strategy
Your client should feel like the door is always open for feedback or questions. At the end of day, agencies and clients are on the same team and have the same goal for the business: to drive performance. Because of this, it’s important that you take every piece of information your client brings to the table seriously and treat suggestions with respect.
Having said this, there’s currently a multitude of information online and via other sources that advise clients on what they should and shouldn’t do. Ultimately, it’s your job as a digital marketing expert to help your client sort through this information and make decisive, well-reasoned recommendations that are based on data – not opinions.
4. Be proactive and reassuring
At the end of the day, no matter how well your digital marketing strategy is performing during the current pandemic, it’s a time of great uncertainty for everyone. The best thing a digital marketing agency can do to reassure clients that their budgets are being spent efficiently during this time is to be a confident, reliable, and consistent source of knowledge and advice.
Focusing on goals and regularly communicating progress to the wider team not only ensures that expectations are aligned, but also keeps clients in the loop with small day-to-day updates and wins in their account. In the long run, this can help secure management buy-in for long after the pandemic has passed.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to look to extend your agency’s value beyond the services you’re currently paid to provide. Proactively identify new opportunities for the business and provide regular industry trends and updates so they know we’re driving them in the right direction – as well as the information we’re using to steer. The more love you can give clients during this time, the easier it’ll be to prove to upper management that you’re a crucial extension of their team.
Keep calm and carry on during times of uncertainty
The saying “keep calm and carry on” isn’t just a catchy slogan from bygone eras – it’s also solid advice that’s relevant today. Keeping calm, confident, and proactive during a crisis such as the current COVID-19 pandemic can go a long way in demonstrating that you’re well worth every cent you’re paid.
If you can reassure your client’s upper-management that you’re doing a good job and your strategy is driving their business in the right direction, you’re likely to come out on top when things return to normal. You become a non-negotiable for their business.
Searching for more client management tips and advice during this period of uncertainty? Get in touch with the team at Yoghurt Digital today!