At Influence & Co., we don't just work with our clients to help them meet their objectives with content marketing, we work with our clients' clients as well.
We speak with agency leads all the time about how we can help their clients with content marketing goals. The most common concern that comes up during these conversations is whether or not it's achievable. Can working with a niche agency through another marketing agency really result in a successful content marketing strategy?
It sounds complicated, but we've found that achieving account and content harmony is quite simple as long as you figure out what works for all parties involved and stick to it.
I chatted with some of our account strategists who work with these types of clients, and they shared their practices for establishing a successful partnership and ensuring the sandbox stays nice and fun for all.
Aaron Heathman, an account strategist here at Influence & Co., has point people he communicates with regularly at agencies that are our clients about the work we do for their clients. For example, he works directly with BigWideSky, a full-service marketing agency, when handling the strategy of one of their clients. This works well because it gives BigWideSky time to make edits and suggestions for Aaron and his team to implement prior to the end client seeing a piece of content. It makes the process more streamlined and builds trust between Aaron and his team and BigWideSky.
When the point person is not the client you're directly serving, Aaron says, "we handle it as if we are speaking directly with the [end] client." Providing timely responses and making it as easy as possible for the managing client's point of contact ensures the relationship stays positive with their client.
Working with clients who manage numerous clients and projects of their own means that a ton of back-and-forth communication isn't possible. We have to find ways to accommodate the daily demands of the managing client while still getting what we need from them so we can do our jobs and carry out the content strategy for the end client.
Carrie Watkins, another Influence & Co. account strategist, works with Romph Pou, a marketing agency, and one of their clients. Carrie says that when it comes to communication, consistency is key.
"Our contacts are busy — they work with multiple clients and juggle multiple priorities. Getting on the phone can be tricky, so email and Core [our proprietary workflow software] have been our primary channels for communication, which allows them to address questions and strategy as they can fit it in."
Communication through ICo Core has been game-changing in terms of communication efficiency. It houses everything our clients need in order to review content and provide feedback and approval so we can keep their projects moving and not bog down their day with scads of requests and calls.
Traditionally, when you work with a client to deliver a need, you're not only the service provider, but you're also the project manager. When working with a client to deliver a service to their client, it's helpful if there's another project manager involved.
As an account strategist, Aaron serves as the project manager for his clients. Because he isn't working directly with BigWideSky's end client, though, there's essentially a project manager at BigWideSky, too. For example, when Aaron provides questions during the knowledge-sharing phase of the content creation process (this helps his team get all the information needed from the content author to put the piece together), BigWideSky will handle sending the questions to the end client. From there, BigWideSky will be in charge of following up and making sure the task stays on track based on Aaron's prompts.
It can seem as though there are a lot of moving parts involved, but Aaron keeps his team and the managing client on the same page by providing BigWideSky with a status sheet that he updates regularly. This keeps everyone in the know on where each piece of content is at in the process.
This should hold true for anyone you're working with, but especially when you're not working directly with the client you're servicing, knowing their strategy like the back of your hand will go a long way toward ensuring success.
Carrie says that because she and the rest of her team don't speak with the end client directly, it's important for them to have a solid understanding of what is valuable to both the agency and their client so they can steer the content strategy in the right direction.
Since follow-ups to gain clarification and additional information can be taxing, Carrie and her team focus on topics and areas that use the knowledge they gained during the onboarding process and knowledge-sharing meetings with the managing client, pulling in appropriate additional resources when necessary. This allows them to own and drive the strategy, and deliver on the end client's expectations.
The way our team works with these types of agency clients makes all the difference in ensuring things continue to move along and that what we deliver is aligned with the end client's expectations. The process is probably the most important piece of the puzzle, and for Carrie and Aaron, this is what works best:
When working with a client's client, and doing so in a way that delivers on strategy and on schedule, you definitely have your work cut out for you. There's a lot of juggling, various factors to consider, uncharted territory to embark upon, etc. But it's actually quite manageable when you designate the right people, have the strategy down pat, and get the process down to a science.
Natalie Slyman is a content marketing and social media professional. She enjoys reading her favorite blogs, perusing Instagram, and talking about her cats (even when no one is listening).