A few weeks ago, I came across a very interesting TV show called “Married at First Sight.” The show is an extreme social experiment in which six individuals who have struggled to find love turn to the experts to pair them with a compatible partner. The very first time they meet their partner is at the altar where they say “I do.” Originally I thought this was an outrageous solution to the “I can’t find love” problem, but curiosity got the better of me, and I ended up getting hooked. I realized I was learning a lot about life, and surprisingly, digital marketing.
Watching the couples getting married, honeymooning, sharing the holidays and moving in together, I realized that what the experiment did was eliminate the easy way out. By marrying these people right off the bat, they are forced to be vulnerable at the beginning. They have to share their insecurities, goals, deal-breakers and fears to get past them. Unlike most relationships, where people hesitate and decide if all goes wrong they can just break up, these couples are legally married and know they need to put in the effort to make it work because failure means divorce.
So how does all this love-speak relate to digital marketing? From my experience, many clients come into the relationship as if they are dating their digital marketing agency. They don’t want to open up right away. Instead, they want to take it slow and ease their way into the relationship. However, the downfall to this is that they are only creating a surface-deep relationship in which progress is very difficult because they’re constantly second guessing. When you go into an engagement like this with a digital marketing agency, you have given your agency a yard with an invisible fence and put a blindfold on them. Until they hit the fence line, they are struggling to know where all the boundaries are and, being blindfolded, they don’t have access to any of the items that might help them navigate. Well, it’s time to take the blindfold off!
5 Reasons You Should Treat Your Digital Marketing Partnership Like a Marriage Instead of Dating
- Share what makes you feel vulnerable in the beginning
No, this doesn’t mean you should share all your deep dark secrets, but the things that make you feel a little vulnerable are usually the things that digital marketing firms need to help you reach success. For example, you might be hesitant to share your company goals. It’s understandable to be nervous about sharing your plan for growth, but your agency is just as happy to see you reach those goals as you are! Your success means their success!
- Set expectations (and discuss deal-breakers)
Be clear about what you expect from your digital partner. If you have expectations that may not be realistic, it’s best to share those so everything is out on the table and any misconceptions can be reset. People often have this idea that digital marketing is like magic and can make you millions in minutes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that, so take the time to understand how it does work. Then you won’t be disappointed when no one lives up to your standards.
- Don’t be afraid to have a personal relationship
What some people forget is that digital marketing firms are companies with people, just like you! We have lives and families, and enjoy sporting events and good food. Don’t be afraid to have fun and joke about whose team is beating who, what awesome vacation you might have planned or stories about your crazy in-laws. The more we know about you, the more likely we are to celebrate the small wins in life, and not just in work.
- Be willing to learn
Relationships, both personal and professional, are about finding a balance. No one can ALWAYS be right, despite how much we feel like it can be one-sided. Sometimes we learn best by making mistakes and discovering what not to do next time. Be willing to take chances on new and innovative ideas, because although you may make mistakes every once in a while, it feels that much better when you find a winning strategy.
- Don’t take the easy way out
I’m not saying you’re stuck with an agency for life, but don’t go into the engagement with the idea that as soon as they mess up, you’re going to leave them. This puts tension on the relationship. For example, when you leave and don’t come home for days, your significant other may begin to think the worst and take drastic actions, like sending out the neighborhood watch party. Instead of stressing them out by leaving, communicate what’s bothering you and that you need to think about how to best move forward. Then your partner can put that energy to a good use, like making a nice dinner for your return. Similarly, be sure to let your agency know what’s on your mind so they can brainstorm ideas on how to help, even if you need some fresh air in the meantime. That way when you return, you’ll come back to a variety of potential solutions, instead of a frazzled partner.
Instead of dating your agency, marry them. Walk down the aisle and say yes. Commit to learning as you go, sharing your insecurities, not taking the easy way out and creating a true partnership. This gives you the opportunity to grow. Sometimes in a marriage you have to accept that you’re not always right, make compromises and communicate openly. Doing so puts you in the right position for better long-term relationships. If you start off by setting up a nice colorful fence in your yard and walking your agency around to show them all the resources they have access to in order to know the boundaries, you probably could put a blindfold on them and they’d be ok.
What it boils down to is developing a strong relationship from the beginning, and this means sharing the hard things. If you don’t know why your last relationship with a previous agency failed, you may carry that into your next one. Be clear about your expectations, goals, insecurities and fears and your agency can help build you up. Most importantly, you can learn about your business and what works for it. At the end of it all, if you HAVE to divorce your agency, it’s not the worst thing in the world, but at least you’ll come out of it much wiser and, like Einstein, knowing all the ways it doesn’t work so you can find the one that does.
Ready to get your partnership rockin’? Read about the advantages of hiring a local agency.