Where Is Your Marketing Spend Going? What Is Your Agency Up To?

Whether your car is in the shop or you’re waiting for final deliverables from a third-party agency – most of the actual work that other people do for you is essentially invisible. For some situations, this is a welcome relief; it’s probably for the best that we don’t see the carnage involved in trying to replace a CV axle on our vehicle. In other situations, the inability to see what is happening as a project progresses can be a source of major concern. This is especially true when the work being done can have wide-reaching consequences for your business.

Throwin’ Shade

We have discussed the importance of Transparency in Business Partnerships at length before, but the need for unobstructed professional communication cannot be understated. With the tools we have available now, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to see the work that is being done for you at any stage of its development – especially when it comes to digital marketing. Like slowly passing the mirrors installed in an automatic car wash, you should be able to see what’s happening at all times – and you should be able to drive back around and get the job done right if you’re not satisfied.

In the past, technology has limited the degree of access clients have had to an agency’s works as they progressed. For example, when a writer was drafting a piece of copy for your firm, it would be on their own computer or, at best, on an internal network at the agency you hired. In other instances (such as when freelancers are brought into the fold), your agency probably wouldn’t even see the work until just before they handed it over to you. This generally meant two things:

  1. If you weren’t satisfied with the final product, it would likely have to be started over from scratch – often at additional cost to you (whether directly or indirectly).
  2. Getting copies of or access to the work that had been created for you in the past – and that you paid for – was difficult if not impossible.

Asana: Foresight Is 20/20

At LaFleur, we have eliminated these issues. We know that the future of business partnerships (and technology) is moving toward greater openness and accessibility. As such, our agency has removed the roadblocks to transparency by providing clients with full access to our project management software: Asana.

The notification settings in Asana are incredibly customizable; this means clients can receive e-mail notifications when:

  • A new task is created for their project
  • New documents or files are created or added
  • New comments are made
  • New discussions are created
  • It’s time to review a final deliverable

They can also choose to simply receive a notification when a final product is ready for their approval. In that case, everything related to their project(s) is still accessible at all times – but their inbox won’t be bogged down with updates they aren’t interested in seeing.

Granted, there are a few instances in which a digital marketing agency may be wary of allowing clients to get involved too early in a project. Let’s examine a few of these reasons, and then take a look at how Asana allows us to alleviate these concerns while encouraging productive lines of communication.

First Impressions

Everyone wants to put their best foot forward – especially when they’re first beginning a business relationship. I personally don’t enjoy my co-workers (let alone our clients) seeing drafts of my essays while I’m working on them – not because I don’t think a piece is going to be good, but rather, I want the version someone sees to be reflective of the total effort. One of the major fears, then, in providing clients with unrestricted access to a project is that they may see incomplete work and get the wrong impression.

Of course, with Asana, this has become a non-issue. For the vast majority of tasks, the initial proposal receives approval and clients are then privy to our internal conversations about where the project is headed as it develops; they can weigh in at any time with their input before the “real” work actually begins. Through productive planning and keeping open lines of communication, projects are guided in the right direction and expectations are clearly established early on. When someone is in the middle of a task, that is indicated in Asana, and our clients don’t get the wrong impression; none of us expects a final product if we can see that something is in an earlier stage of development.

In the case of a blog post, for example, the topic, a scratch outline or summary, and a list of possible sources are usually put together in Asana first. If a client sees things heading in a direction they’re not happy with, they can get the piece back on track before a draft even gets started. Once it’s being drafted, they still have access, but it will be clear that they’re viewing a draft – not the final product. This transparency in project management significantly reduces wasted effort on everyone’s part and results in exactly the final product that our clients are looking for.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

Another problem that business partners face when having unrestricted access to project development is making simultaneous, incompatible changes that interfere with forward progress. This issue is directly related to stifled communication and usually lead to redundancies, conflicting visions, and frustration – experiences with which Chip LaFleur, President of Lafleur, is all too familiar:

When it comes to client work, the most important thing is building a foundation of trust among everyone involved in the project, which can be difficult when clients are overly-involved in the various segments of a given project. So we feel it’s important to create a distinction between including our clients in the process and allowing them full editorial control as that process plays out. The former being a productive, enhancing model, and the latter serving as a recipe for disaster.

Again, Asana eliminates this problem. Each task is assigned specifically to one individual with a specific due date, and the conversation history for that task is always viewable. Once that person completes their responsibilities, all of that task’s history moves along to the next assignee, and the description of the task is updated to reflect that person’s new responsibilities. There is never any confusion about who should be doing what with any given task – or who is actually doing the work. The understanding is that if a task is not assigned to you, you are not responsible for making changes; however, you can still view its progress and offer input at all times via comments or team conversations.

Abracadabra!

One final problem with granting clients unlimited access to projects, primarily on the agency side of things, is that an agency doesn’t really get the chance to “wow” clients. The traditional model for many marketing and advertising agencies is to create a dynamite deliverable and then knock their client’s socks off with a big reveal once it is in its final form (or during a sales pitch). This Mad Men style of operating can certainly be fun – we always enjoy wowing our clients with the exceptional work we do – but it can also be an enormous disappointment when a client isn’t impressed because they didn’t have any say in a project’s development and it doesn’t align with their brand.

Ultimately, getting involved provides our clients with the opportunity to be creators – not just consumers. Being actively engaged allows our clients to claim their work as their own – and not just because owning it is part of a well-worded contract. At LaFleur Legal Marketing, we work with you to help improve your business. Our work and our results speak for themselves – from inception to implementation, everything we do is of the highest quality, and it belongs to you. No tricks. No gimmicks. No restrictions. Just exceptional quality and proven results.

Call 888-222-1512 today to learn more about how your law firm can reap the benefits of partnering with LaFleur.

David VandeWaa has spent over a decade teaching writing, literature, and history in high school and college classrooms. His work has been published in academic journals, he has traveled extensively in Europe, and he occasionally posts anecdotes about his experiences on his blog.