It’s difficult to give up control of your digital marketing, particularly when you are launching into a relationship with a new agency. This can be especially true if you have been running that marketing yourself. After all, in your head you probably know exactly what you want and how you want it done, and who knows your marketing objectives better than you, right?
While it is a great idea to stay involved with your campaigns, too much involvement can actually reduce their effectiveness and chew up your company time, so how much should you micromanage your agency?
The Underlying Reasons
To start, we need to consider why you feel it is necessary to micromanage in the first place. There are a few reasons, but here are some of the most common.
You don’t trust your agency
If you feel you must watch your agency through a magnifying glass, then they probably aren’t the agency for you. Trust is a powerful factor in working with an agency, and if you are micromanaging them because they have made mistakes in the past, the quality of their work is questionable, or you just don’t feel like you can depend on them, then you should exercise your right to find a new provider.
A relationship without trust will never work, regardless how hard you try to make sure your agency knows your expectations. Trustless marketing relationships cause pain for everyone involved, and as that pain is usually a symptom of your larger relationship, it’s not something you’ll be able to solve with a strongly-worded email. Move on.
Your job depends on It
This is more common in larger companies that have marketing departments or dedicated marketing managers. Chances are that you have personally researched & recommended the agency you’re going to use, so if the agency misses the mark, that will reflect badly on you
It is not unusual for in-house marketers to feel pressure from their wider management team to perform. Every time you’re asked a question you can’t answer, it makes you look like you aren’t quite as switched on as you’d like people to believe.
If your agency has shown they can meet expectations, however, overly involved marketing managers can slow down delivery, leading to your campaigns falling short of expectations.
If the campaign will reflect on you as an employee of the business, make sure your agency knows this, but the more time you spend on phone calls & in meetings, the less time the agency will spend doing the work.
In these situations, it is best to learn what everyone wants to see. You might be more interested in conversion rates, budget allocation, and ad copy, but your management team might be more interested in return on investment, or how your marketing compares to their biggest competitors. Once you know how your stakeholders measure success, you can ask your agency to provide that measurement to you, cutting down on panic-driven phone calls, emails and interrogative internal meetings.
You love being in control
This is a difficult one to diagnose as no-one will admit they are a genuine control freak with whom it is hard to work. Advertising specialists who deal with control-hungry clients that want to know every little detail often lose interest in the campaign, which is a kiss-of-death to any marketing.
Good examples of this include:
- regularly asking for a complete breakdown & explanation of everything that has been done to a campaign,
- asking for your agency to show you how you can do things yourself,
- asking for changes after you have already approved something for use,
- demanding that you personally approve every change before it goes live, regardless of what that change is,
- making changes to a campaign yourself without telling your agency.
Take a breath and step back. If you trust your agency, let them do what you are paying them to do. If you feel you must get involved with making changes yourself, be sure you understand your agency’s approach – they could be working towards something of which you aren’t aware, and your changes may affect that outcome negatively. Most importantly, communicate your changes with your agency.
You don’t know how digital marketing works
Most agencies won’t factor in client education into their retainers. While it is hard to keep up with every marketing platform currently available, you are paying an agency to run a marketing campaign, not teach you how to run it yourself.
There are plenty of free online courses open to you, and most of the advertising platforms such as Google and Facebook even offer their own courses.
Most agencies will be happy to explain how some platforms work to a degree, but if your meetings are more ‘how to do…’ than ‘how we’re doing…’ you won’t be getting the most value from your supplier.
Why you shouldn’t micromanage
You might think to yourself “So what? It’s my campaign and I’m footing the bill. Why shouldn’t I be able to micromanage my agency?”
This is fair reasoning, but here are some reasons why this attitude can prevent you from reaching your goals.
Your way of doing things might be different from the agency’s way.
There are many ways to run a campaign. How your campaign runs is largely determined by the experience of the specialist doing the work, and what you’ve been sold by the agency. Their method is probably tried and tested, and they use it because it is easy to manage and generates results. Forcing your agency to do things your way will most likely cause problems. After all, how do you know your way is best?
Go with the experts on the methodology – they have more experience than you do.
It eats up your retainer
Some agencies charge by the hour, while some provide blocks of hours in the form of a fixed monthly retainer. If your agency relationship revolves around you micromanaging the specialists, the time you spend questioning, debating, requesting detailed information and generally getting in way subtracts from your monthly retainer & eats up your hours. That means less time spent on doing work, which leads to lower campaign performance.
It doesn’t make you popular
When is the term ‘micromanaging’ used in the positive sense? Let us be fair – no one ever enjoyed going the extra mile for someone who made their lives difficult, so if you want your agency to always give you 100%, sometimes letting your agency flex their creative muscles in their own way will get you more in return.
So, you’re saying I shouldn’t micromanage?
Probably not, no. The answer goes back to point 1 – if you feel the need to micromanage because you don’t trust your agency, get a new agency.
If you’re micromanaging because you’re a control freak or you don’t understand digital marketing, work on yourself, not your agency.
A good agency should tell you early on what they need from you, and you should expect to be asked a lot of questions about you, your business, and your objectives. This is also your time to be transparent with what you need. You’ll feel much better once you discuss your concerns and requirements with your team. There should be no grey areas when it comes to what you get for your money.
That said, if you find grey areas coming up, or are concerned your expectations are being missed, the best way to deal with it is to arrange a meeting and calmly talk through what you feel is missing. There could be crossed wires, or different interpretations of what you’ve requested.
Hiding your feelings and just expecting your agency to read the signs will likely bring a negative outcome for everyone involved.
In any case, micromanaging is common, but rarely the solution to a problem. Determine why you feel the need to micromanage, and you’ll be able to find ways of getting around it without coming across as an overbearing pest.