Over the last week, I've met with numerous clients regarding our campaigns. I've also had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall as their other marketing agencies have presented their new programs. The reoccurring theme that continues to present itself in each is ambiguity. And, that's problematic for the long term success of these relationships.
Let me explain because it's pretty simple. Before any campaign begins, clients and their agencies really need to force themselves to lay down black and white goals. The problem (which occurs all too often) is when loftier, immeasurable goals such as “let's just increase our visibility" or "we need to see some sales leads" or "when our partners hear it from their clients, we'll know we're succeeding" are used as program goals. In reality, these are nothing more than vague hopes that can't be measured and provide no picture of whether a campaign is working, on target or failing.
So, what typically happens after a year when these "goals" are in place? The boss (or boss' boss) of that client pokes his head out and wants to know what specific business/marketing results the agency has produced for the $$$ being spent. Next comes a mad dash between the client and agency team to conjure up something that really feels like a ROI. And, the dance continues until real, hard, quantifiable goals are set for the current year. But, too much fear, sweat and wasted time has taken place in the meanwhile.
Or, the other likely scenario is that that same big boss just doesn't see enough bang for his buck and tells the client to fire the agency. That's why so many relationships last a year or less (by the way).
This isn't rocket science (actually I prefer robotic science because that's what my brother does). Setting measurable goals doesn't mean that the agency needs to always produce real business. Instead, it should focus on quantifiable numbers or data that matter to the client's business. And, that can be measured and then benchmarked periodically (to see how and if the needle is actually moving).
One other tip: Insert an effective, sustainable tracking mechanism that can accurately collect all that important data. Without it, accurate measurement runs awry.
There is no doubt that both client and agency will be in a much better place if they can see how the fruits of their labor actually measures up.