Blog/ Digital strategy

5 things you should expect from your agency partner during COVID-19

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When it comes to clients who rely on marketing services and the agency professionals who provide them, we’re spending a disproportionate amount of time these days figuring out how to navigate incredibly complex environments as we are marketing actual products and services.

On the one hand, you could say we’re all in it together. On the other hand, it’s an anxiety-inducing situation for many and we’re still not sure how long we’ll feel the effects.

Just like the companies we serve, we’ve recently asked ourselves, “What should our clients expect from us during this time?” 

Beyond marketing services alone, agencies have the opportunity to meet brands where they are today, while helping them plan for the future. This can include everything from leveraging the power of digital to share their commitment to their customers and community, to making the most out of dramatically cut media budgets, to recreating their marketing roadmap entirely.

As part of our response, we’ve centered our efforts around specific outcomes that we hope not only provide strategic direction for our clients, but also rally everyone towards a common goal. Here are a few ways we’re partnering with our clients during this time.

1. Quickly identifying & marketing new or adapted offerings

What happens when the very service you provide is restricted? Our client, a leading provider of full body workouts nationwide, was faced with this challenge when their local franchise studios began to close in response to guidance from their respective cities and states. Not only was this felt at the corporate level, but the livelihoods of studio owners across the country were at risk.

While they did offer on-demand classes at the national level, enthusiasts now have the opportunity to stream at home with guidance from their local instructors. Obviously, this was a tremendous organizational effort for these participating locations and in addition to the company’s own marketing efforts, we’re assisting in the promotion of this new offering through their paid media campaigns. Currently, those who wish to take part can enjoy one week of unlimited streaming through participating locations.

As an additional way to support these studios, we recommended promoting a gift card campaign that encourages enthusiasts to support their local studios and apply the credit to classes and merchandise once re-opened.

Not only does this provide a revenue stream for these studios during, but the brand is also demonstrating its commitment to customers and the ability to quickly adapt to their needs.

2. Demonstrating flexibility and solutions-oriented attitudes

Our realities are shifting on a daily basis lately, and our project plans should too. The willingness to show flexibility with allocating media dollars and pivoting on long established strategies is crucial for brands during this time. A true agency partner understands this and endeavors to work collaboratively across internal and client teams to determine how clients can get the most value out of their engagement, while discerning how this impacts both the short and long term.

Transparently, we’ve had a lot of clients dial back or pause their digital marketing efforts completely. We hope the actions we take in rising to the challenge, the speed by which we undertake them, and our attitude in approaching them will be remembered long after the worst of this pandemic is over. Whether this involves gap-filling roles on the client-side to see them through, quickly working in new services that aren’t part of an initial engagement, or completely revisiting media plans and working with our partners to change course—these are just a few of the ways we’ve been helping our clients simplify the complex.

3. Providing direct access to industry and channel experts

While we always work to provide access to our agency’s talent across all disciplines, it’s more important than ever that our clients have the right people “in the room” when confronting today’s marketing landscape. Decisions need to be made quickly with access to the most recent data. The real-time expertise we provide in interpreting this data into actionable strategies and plans means clients don’t have to worry about missed opportunities or revenue. Whether this is ad hoc Q & A sessions with media and creative leads, the ability to pick the brains of executive leadership, or connecting with our technology team—accessibility to the breadth of our agency’s talent is something clients should expect.

4. Sharing resources and connecting clients with each other

We’re in the business of relationship building and sometimes, the relationships we’ve fostered over the years can benefit our clients during times like this.

Our client, Engagement Multiplier is a leading employee engagement software for small to mid sized businesses. While the general morale and engagement of employees has become a major focal point of many organizations today, the complete shift to working remotely has not occurred without impact for some. With so many competing priorities (risk assessment, navigating stimulus packages, recovery planning, etc.), businesses without a strategic way to stay connected to employees’ well-being and productivity may be doing damage, even if not intentionally.

Engagement Multiplier has created a quick survey to help business owners see how their employees are doing and identify areas where action needs to be taken to keep their business moving forward in this landscape. We’ve used this survey ourselves and have been more than happy to introduce it to clients who also might find value in it.

5. Future-proofing digital marketing programs 

The “here and now” is obviously at the forefront of clients’ minds. However, we shouldn’t focus on current activities at the expense of a brand’s future. This is where, as an agency partner, we want to play a valuable role in helping their clients cut through the noise and provide big picture planning that will help see them through the long haul. Currently, we’re answering a number of questions, some of the most common being:

  • How should I be communicating with my customers and prospects during this time?
  • Is there a smart way I can “keep the lights on” or should I turn off media efforts completely?
  • How will I know when I should turn campaigns back on? What are the market indicators?
  • Should I be focusing more on organic marketing and grassroots efforts?
  • How much damage am I doing by not running marketing campaigns? 

An agency demonstrating a true partnership with their clients should not only answer these questions, but provide a clear perspective on how they can effectively adjust and plan for the remainder of this year.

There’s a lot of uncertainty facing the public during this time, and when customers are asking more from our clients, it’s fair that they ask more from us. These are a few ways we’re working to react to these demands. While we certainly don’t have a crystal ball that allows us to see what’s in front of us, it’s important that we’re part of the journey.