The Humble & Hustle Studios Team is a part of quite a few marketing groups across various platforms. One of the more common discussions in these groups is how to request materials and/or access from previous agencies and what to do when/if these agencies give you or your new client any trouble. One particularly awful post was a fellow marketer asking for advice on how to move forward: her new client’s previous agency had created a website, branding, etc. using a font that the agency owned — and the client had no idea. Now that her client had moved away from the previous agency, the agency would not give them license to use the font without hefty monthly fees.
Next week we are going to talk more about why ownership is so important for businesses, but this week we wanted to go into some detail about one of our brand values and why we feel it is crucial to how we do business: Be our clients’ advocate. If the aforementioned marketing agency had been advocates for their client, they would not have used a licensed font without first discussing it with their client and what that might look like if the client were to end their services. There are many ways that we can promote our values and be advocates for our clients while still running a successful business, without having to resort to these kinds of behaviors.
The first way we are advocates for our clients is by making sure that our clients have ownership over all of their materials and data. Everything from Facebook business pages to ads managers to websites and plugins to all the material created for the client (marketing plans, editorial calendars, branding material, etc.) is owned by the client. Sometimes, as is the case with business pages and ads managers, this means extra steps need to be taken by both the client and our team, but we know these steps are always worth it in the long run. Ownership over materials and data can be crucial for small and growing businesses, and we want to see all of our clients reach the highest peaks of their potential.
We also believe in transparency and open communication. We never hide what we are doing from our clients and have regular strategy meetings so that every decision is understood. If there is a huge delay on a deliverable, for any reason, that is communicated openly with our clients. We never want our clients to feel like there is something happening in the backend that they have no clue about. They are aware of what we are doing every step of the way. Not only does this ensure that they have full knowledge of what we are doing — whether it is with their branding, or their website, or their marketing plans — but they can also stop and redirect us at any point. This is good for both the client and the agency: the client is able to direct us toward what they feel is most important and best for their business, and we are able to create material for our clients that will be most useful to them based on this direction.
Our detailed contracts and creative briefs clearly outline the scope of work and timelines so our clients are aware of exactly what they are getting and when it will be delivered. Detailed contracts and creative briefs are good for both the client and ourselves. This way there is no confusion on either end with what is to be expected. Our clients know exactly what we need from them in order to move forward with any project, and they have a timetable for strategy meetings, emails updates, and final deliverables. Vague promises and poor communication lead to unhappiness and bewilderment, on both ends.
So, what are the takeaways for business owners?
Make sure you are looking for marketing agencies, partners, investors — anybody in your business — who share your same business values. It is really hard to do business with someone who has fundamentally different values and practices, so make sure yours line up!
Carefully read contracts and ask for detailed scope of work and timelines to be provided. Also ask for regular updates either via email or video meetings or conference calls.
Clarify expectations and be sure to deliver! What exactly does your agency need from you to get started on a project? When do they need it by? How soon will the project be completed after you provide the necessary items?
Make sure you have full ownership and ask about their hand off procedures! You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you don’t have control over one of your business accounts or where you don’t have rights to the fonts used to create your brand.
Next week we will talk more in detail about why ownership is important to both clients and agencies. In the meantime, you can check out our previous blogs on How Your Brand Values Define Your Business and Why Your Brand Matters, No Matter How Small.