We understand a big part of your daily reality as a destination marketer is maintaining seamless relationships between your internal team, agencies, and other marketing partners. Likewise, any reputable digital agency has worked on accounts that have several client-side and external partners to integrate with across media, creative, technology and analytics. It can be difficult to navigate and you may often wonder if you’re realizing the full impact of your partnerships.
As an Account Director at Destination ENV, I’ve had quite a bit of experience with various cooks in the kitchen. By working with many partners, I’ve gained new perspectives that have helped my team successfully launch and optimize digital campaigns. We’ve gained access to data that has fostered innovation, and we’ve realized the ability to test and learn. Regardless, it’s not always easy to keep everyone connected to the same goals. With this in mind, I wanted to share some tips that have helped our team foster collaborative relationships between our agency, clients, and partners.
Establish your partners’ accountabilities as quickly as possible.
As the client, it goes without saying – you’re the ultimate decision maker. But, you’re also making a lot of them – from monumental marketing decisions to the smallest details. Defining your partners’ accountabilities up front and determining how decisions get made not only creates efficiency, but fosters collaboration and ownership. Whether it’s between creative and media, or media, your research group, and digital analytics – it’s important to consider what decisions you’re willing to take on versus those you’re going to entrust to your partners based on the framework you’ve created. Ideally, this happens before your partners work together; however, it’s never too late to reset those expectations!
Foster an environment for ideation.
As cheesy as it sounds, team work really does make the dream work. I’ve often found that agency teams of all disciplines are most energized when they’re able to talk through a campaign or project together in the formative stages to not only establish ways of working together, but to bounce off ideas for feedback. When media, creative and technology work together to create that end-to-end journey for prospective travelers, we’re all connected to the same goals for the campaign whether we’re planning for “always on” programs or one-off campaigns to support certain initiatives for more niche audiences or civic organizations.
Let your partners do the heavy lifting on performance reporting.
Your agency partners are likely sitting on a wealth of data that includes your first party and their third party data. Also, you probably have many internal stakeholders you need to report progress to, each with their own primary and secondary metrics that they care about. An agile partner should be able to accommodate by providing raw data and/or visualizations, provided there’s clear communication on your expectations and desired outcomes. While some of your stakeholders (and perhaps yourself) may want the granular details on audience types, channel performance and visitation metrics, others may simply want to know whether primary objectives have been achieved, exactly how were they achieved, and new areas of focus. By fully integrating your data, you can move beyond reporting “the news” to focus on actionable recommendations that are rooted in data and tell the right performance story to key members of your organization.
Leverage your partners’ subject matter expertise to educate your team.
With so many looking to your organization for thought leadership and guidance, there’s an opportunity to leverage your agency partners for their experience, both internally for your organization and for your membership. For example, as a digital marketing agency, we have experience with targeting specific businesses or individuals, even though the leisure traveler may represent the bulk of our focus in terms of overall digital marketing spend for a destination. We’ll always call upon our advertising partners and our team’s personal experience to educate DMOs on new opportunities to market to travel and meeting professionals. This could mean organizing learning sessions on the latest trends in account-based marketing, lead nurturing programs, as well as tips for integrating marketing and outbound sales efforts.
Establish consistent check-in points and use them to your advantage.
Consistent, collaborative meeting plans not only create efficiency, but allow you to keep your finger on the pulse of your partners’ performance. For more important planning sessions, we also create what we refer to internally as an “impact filter” that sets the desired outcome for each meeting as well as success criteria that if met, will ensure time is spent productively. In general, here’s a few things we like to establish with our clients as early into our relationship as possible:
- The desired outcome of our meetings by type
- The frequency and key participants of these meetings
- What meetings should be in-person versus over the phone or video
- Preferred communication in between meetings for team members – e.g. email, Slack, video conference
- The preferred method for documenting notes, next steps, and ownership
So many minds and objectives. While these are a few key learnings I’ve gained through my own experience, not every organization or their partners are created equal. At Destination ENV, not only do we consider ourselves an extension of your internal team, but we also take the capabilities of your partners very seriously.
Questions? Feedback? Areas for collaboration? Feel free to reach out. We’d love to hear from you!