In a digital age, data is gold and ownership is imperative — for both businesses and marketing agencies. Last week we talked about one of our business values: being our customers’ advocate. A big part of that value means that we want the businesses and brands we work with to have ownership over everything possible. Today we are going to talk about why that is important not just for the businesses but also for marketing agencies.
It seems like common sense that a business should have ownership over all of its business related materials (social media pages, marketing plans, editorial calendars, branding documents, websites, etc.) but many small businesses don’t know that this is something to make sure of during the contract phase of hiring an agency or a freelance marketer or designer. We have helped businesses try to regain ownership of social media pages, branding documents, and marketing materials, and we have heard stories from fellow marketers of businesses who don’t even have ownership of their own logos! So what seems like common sense to us is actually a way that some unscrupulous agencies hold power over the businesses that contract with them.
Beyond all of your own businesses materials, you also want to own your customer data. This data is gold! Even the government understands how important consumer data is — and they sell it to boot! Many businesses rely on social media websites and digital advertising to reach their audience and don’t bother to collect email addresses unless it relates to shipping. We are here to tell you that is a big mistake! If this is you, just think about what might happen to your business if your Instagram is hacked, or if you get put in Facebook jail and your Facebook Business Page is disabled. Now how are you going to reach your customers? Not that these platforms aren’t helpful and that their ads algorithms can’t get you in front of a broader audience. But if you don’t have a way to collect your customers’ email addresses and market directly to them, then you are at the mercy of these 3rd parties and have no true control over your customer data. Owning this data is like owning your own land — as long as you nurture it, you can thrive.
(On an only-slightly-related side note, please, please, PLEASE, do not purchase an email list! Not only does this not work the way most businesses think it will, it can also hurt your business in the long run.)
Now, onto agencies. As we stated above, since we are advocates for our clients, we always want them to hold ownership over their materials. But beyond that, it’s good for us as well! First, it helps build trust with our clients and gives them confidence in our business and our values. It also empowers them to know they can use the materials we create for them to continue building their business beyond our services. We understand that not everyone can afford hiring an outsourced CMO or hiring an in-house marketing team, so we want even smaller businesses that work with us to see the value in our services beyond the contract. We do this by giving them ownership to everything we create for them.
When we first begin working with a new client, we only ask for access to the things that we will be directly involved with — whether that’s their website, their social media, or their current calendars and marketing plans. (If they were previously working with a different agency or a freelancer, we also check and verify who still has access to those materials.) If we are creating a website, social media profile, etc. for them, we help them through the initial setup process and then show them how to grant us access. This keeps our clients in control and again reinforces their confidence in our team that we are keeping their success in the forefront of our minds. When the project has been completed or the contract has ended, we have a handoff procedure to ensure the client’s ownership over their materials and remind our clients of everything we have access to so they can remove us. We have found that this trust between us and our clients means repeat business on new projects and lasting relationships.
So here’s some action steps that businesses can take today:
Audit your digital assets to see who is in control and who has access. If you do not have control over your digital assets, take the necessary steps to regain ownership.
Make sure that you have ownership of all of your materials and data. Keep digital and hard copies, and if you are working with an outside agency, go over your contracts to make sure that you retain ownership of anything created for you.
If you need help regaining control over your marketing or assets, schedule a free consultation call.