Ask the average business leader what they want from their web partner and they may tell you it’s a killer website. Okay, so you know making it pretty isn’t enough… they might also mention prompt service, transparent billing, or consistent lead generation results. These are all good answers of course, but I think a lot of people miss the biggest point of all.
In my opinion, the most valuable thing you can get from a digital marketing partner is coaching – or more accurately – leadership. You want their best work, to be sure, but you should be eager to absorb some of their knowledge as well.
This is so far from the way the majority of the firms in our industry work that it runs directly contrary to conventional wisdom. In fact, in many cases when we suggest coaching, some prospects insist that they don’t need to know how to do things since they are hiring an agency to do it for them.
I can understand this point of view, but consider it terribly limiting. Getting coaching and learning from your digital partner doesn’t mean you’re going to handle marketing on your own. It means you have an opportunity to make better decisions from the choices before you.
To demonstrate why this is such a powerful mind shift, consider this.
Coaching makes you a better client and them a better agency.
At my firm, we make coaching and empowerment the centrepiece of our new client engagements because it’s in the best interest of all parties. That might not be what you would have thought in the past, but I ‘m certain I can convince you it’s true.
When you get more than the basics of successful digital marketing, lots of wonderful things begin to happen. For one, you’re free to create content, update your pages, and take other steps to reduce agency billable hours. Simply put, you don’t have to generate an invoice just because you want to teak your website.
At the same time, coaching leads to higher levels of understanding. When you know what your creative firm is doing – and why – you can participate in decision-making, in a much more meaningful way. You aren’t stuck accepting their answers because you don’t know any better, and you won’t be in a situation where you have to agree to campaigns or budgets you don’t like because you’re locked into a specific approach. You have freedom to do what makes sense for your company.
On the other side of the coin, your creative partner no longer has to worry about being bogged down with small edit requests. Rather, they can focus on bigger picture strategies and delivering value that helps you lead. That frees them from the burden of babysitting your account and allows them to work alongside you and achieve bigger things.
Why don’t more digital firms offer coaching?
Given the benefits we’ve already outlined, you would think digital teams would be tripping over themselves to coach and educate their clients. Obviously, that’s not what is happening in our industry. So, why aren’t more digital marketing experts collaborating like we do?
There is plenty of blame or assumptions. But, for their part, a lot of digital marketers, web designers, social media teams, and even SEOs are stuck in the old, business model of getting paid for labour (hours). Showing a client how to do it reduces their billable hours.
They fear that they’ll no longer be needed if an organization can handle regular tasks in-house, and in many cases, that might be true. After all, if the only thing your web design team contributes to your company is labour, then it might make a lot of sense for you to ditch them and their retainers. They should be helping you to develop new strategies, not just keep themselves busy.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that a lot of clients are resistant to being educated about digital marketing. They feel they don’t have the time, that it’s too complex, or that those types of tasks should be handed off to someone else. But, like a professional athlete who turns their money over to someone else, these decision-makers often find themselves on the losing end of the arrangement when what’s promised – or expected – doesn’t materialize, and nobody can explain why.
Build a stronger approach to online lead generation.
Imagine for a moment that you needed a specific medical procedure, or a lawyer to guide you through a complex case. While you would certainly turn to someone with the right education and experience, wouldn’t you naturally have a lot of questions and seek out sound information on which to make decisions?
I admit that when it comes to digital marketing the consequences aren’t quite so dire. Still, the future of your business is on the line. You don’t have to do all of the planning and strategy yourself. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it any more than I would suggest you perform your own surgery. What I would want for you is to be involved enough in the process to understand what you’re getting, how it’s supposed to work, and where and when you and your team can contribute.
One of the things I like to tell my partners, clients, and employees is that there aren’t any shortcuts to success. You can work smart, but you can’t execute a winning plan – online or in the real world – without a bit of know-how and hard work. When you write a check every month, are you looking for the easy button, or real results?
My advice is don’t be afraid to be involved in setting the direction for your digital marketing campaigns, and certainly don’t work with a vendor who doesn’t want to have you involved. Things can be a little intimidating – even time-consuming – at first, but getting coaching is the an important step towards achieving your goals.