We’ve all been in client meetings where the client talked at length about what they expected from a proposed campaign. Too often, the data confirming that the campaign should be a priority, or that the expectations are based on real-world parameters, is pretty thin on the ground… if it exists at all. Today we also deal with the barriers between agencies and the strategic people inside the client organization. That can mean agencies are told to deliver on objectives without any certainty that they are the right objectives.
Sometimes, it is even difficult to get an idea of what the client believes the objective for a project is. This puts the agency in the role of having to execute projects with no clear understanding of the associated expectations. That is a very bad place to be. It leaves the agency vulnerable to client dissatisfaction because the agency failed to telepathically decipher some unexpressed objective.
Account executives or project managers need to push clients harder to set a project’s scope, and achieve clarity of purpose for each project or campaign. Even if your role is as part of a larger effort managed by the client’s marketing people, you need to have a clear understanding of how your piece of the puzzle fits with the rest, and what your collective and individual objectives are. Without these clear scopes of work, your agency is just churning marketing dollars without a hope of being effective. Who wants to be shown the door for failing to deliver on an unexpressed objective? Instead, work hard at the inception of a project to define scope of value. What return does the client want or expect?
Define Objectives for Every Project
By improving scope definition, you also improve client perceptions of agency value. Show that what the agency does gets the desired results. Starting with your very next project or campaign, include measurement and expectations (your key performance indicators, or KPIs) in every scope of work. What is the client hoping to achieve? How can you measure success?
Explain the agency process to clients and prospects. Your agency will:
- Identify objectives/goals
- Conduct research and gather benchmarking data
- Analyze data and consumer feedback
- Set benchmarks/KPIs
- Develop insights
- Plot a strategy
- Select appropriate tactics
- Produce the motivational creative idea
Managing Client Expectations
Get client sign-off on the scope and KPIs. That way, if they later claim the project didn’t “perform,” you can show that you indeed met or exceeded the KPIs in the scope—which they agreed to and approved.
Sit with the client to review the approved scope of work, and talk about how to improve at setting objectives for future projects. Train clients to think about what they hope to achieve (all of the achievements), what is doable within the budget and time constraints, which goals are most important, and how to measure success in meeting those goals.
Over time, you can train clients to give more thought to objectives in advance of assigning projects, and soon you will both be working with greater clarity, and measuring effectiveness and achievement, not just cost.