5 Lessons for Agencies to Become Data-Powered Partners

Guest blogger: Rob Getsy has over a decade of experience leading B2B and B2C marketing strategies and operations for companies in the Education, Telecom, and Tech industries. 

Client and Agency relationships are not unlike many personal relationships. Some are good-natured, trusting and fruitful, while others are more difficult with each party blaming the other when things go wrong. I spent more than a decade on the client-side of the table, managing multi-million dollar budgets, working with media and creative agencies. Here are few things I’ve learned that can make or break these relationships:

Weekly status reports are difficult.

No matter the business, weekly reporting calls are considered table stakes. Every Tuesday morning the agency is supposed to readout the previous week’s activities to tell the client what worked, what didn’t, and what changes they want to make. Oftentimes, the data jockeys on the agency struggle to aggregate the data in time for the call. The haste in which these reports are cobbled together is often quite obvious to the client. We don’t want to move the call every other week to give you more time, and we certainly don’t want to read a report with errors. 

Agencies need to bring insights, not raw data.

Reading raw data tables and trying to decipher patterns is an acquired skill. Most clients don’t have the time or data fluency to look at large Excel spreadsheets with their agency and figure out the implications. There is too much data to try to present it all in a way that we can comprehend. You should be telling us a coherent story with the most pertinent aspects of the data. Bring interesting trends and relationships in the data up for conversation. Tell us what you think it means and what you recommend.  Then, if I still want to dive down further, let me play in the Excel PivotTables after we’ve covered the key points. In some ways, the services of agencies are becoming a commodity. On more than one occasion, I’ve been swayed to sign with an agency that had unique reporting capabilities and a demonstrated ability to turn data into smarter actions.

I’m looking for partners, not vendors

Over the past 15 years in my marketing career, I’ve worked with many vendors but only a few partners. What’s the difference? Partners go above and beyond your expectations and become an extension of your business. They know your customers, your sales cycles, the quirks of every business line, the hours of your call center, and sometimes even news about your company that you hadn’t heard yet. They even help you strategize and plan media spend across tactics they aren’t responsible for.  Vendors are outsiders that never get to know your company acronyms, do only what they are asked to do, and make errors in their reporting that demonstrate they don’t understand the business. The worst part about those errors is that, as the client, we can see them immediately and you can’t. I’m selling cupcakes… I wish the average revenue per sale was $150.00, but it’s not. It’s $15.00. You fat-fingered a decimal point, didn’t catch it and now I’m skeptical about the rest of the report. 

Talk to me about the future too.

The past is great, that’s what we’re reporting on every week.  But I want you to take the next step and start using that data to plan and predict the future. That’s one of the main reasons we’re looking at past performance -- it’s not just to pat ourselves on the back.  I want a partner to look at a broad set of my historical data and build predictive trends based on variables like media efficiency, attribution, and seasonality.    

Excel is amazing, but not for socializing learnings within your team.

I’m an Excel power user. In fact, I use it for just about everything (including things I shouldn’t). But I only had to be yelled at once for sending an exciting piece of data to my CMO in an Excel file.  Executives don’t have time to dig through an Excel file.  In today’s social world, reports should be sharable with a click of a button. Find a technology that summarizes the data for you and makes your life more efficient. 

Who will step up and bring it all together? That’s the question that those of us on the marketing client side are always asking ourselves. Who will be our partner, not vendor? Who will bring us the next level reporting solution so we can have discussions worth having and share those insights easily? And who will help use all that ‘big data’ to optimize for the future? 

Contact us to find out more about how you can partner with us to share insights and create valuable discussions. And for more information on how we create dashboards and insights people love to use, check out our white paper, "A Guide to Creating Dashboards People Love to Use".