Staying a Step Ahead Is Crucial to Digital Success

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ADOTAS – Just a few years ago, client requests were rather generic, mostly buzzword inquiries of the general variety, such as, “What’s up with mobile?” or “I want to build a social presence.” Today, clients are smarter and looking to improve their ROI beyond the novelty stage to extract real, tangible value from their digital strategies.

As their needs become more sophisticated, so too must agencies’ and technology providers’ solutions. The rapid pace of evolution demands that service providers must anticipate clients’ needs before they even inquire, a prospect that requires agencies and their partners to stay one step ahead in their expertise and offerings.

As the buzz in the digital marketplace escalates to a fevered pitch, the prospect of becoming the next viral sensation has every new company aiming to become the next Google or Groupon.

Despite the furious pace, the demand to be disruptive remains paramount. While hard-numbered ROI remains a focus, sometimes beating the competition and the drive to become a first to market player can be more powerful than the dollars-and-cents model of measurement. When the goal is to build buzz and awareness, the halo of effect of marketing a new idea can tip the measurement scales away from conventional metrics.

With all of these factors to consider, innovative companies want to feel like they’re in control, despite the frenetic situation. And they’re looking specifically and directly to their agency partners to do more, perform better and give the brand and their campaigns wings to rise above the clutter.

Certainly there are economic reasons: companies need to be more efficient with every dollar spent, and agencies are being held accountable—the impetus to be more efficient and prove your worth has rarely been more urgent. But there’s also a bigger picture: emerging companies looking to make waves are also eyeing their potential investment opportunities and must show a confident, yet novel, approach to leveraging new media to remain attractive to possible investors.

It’s a tall order for any agency these days to fulfill the myriad demands. However, by anticipating your clients’ needs and staying ahead of the latest innovations in the industry, coupled with taking a chance on an untested partnership, it is entirely possible—and profitable—to deliver the innovative and successful digital campaigns that become a sensation. But how?

Meet regularly with new and emerging providers in the marketplace.

“Really?” you ask. “I just don’t have the time.”

Make the time! With so many startup companies in the digital space, it seems all are looking for those 1-2 ideal innovative clients to come on board and test their business model, to make sure their hypothesis works in real life.

With the right kind of savvy and willingness to explore new opportunities, agencies can often take advantage of these start-up opportunities at a relatively inexpensive rate, which can not only meet the economic goals of the campaign but also give you bragging rights for being the first to market with a novel approach. Even if their offering is not a good fit right now, it’s critical to keep your extended team educated, so that in the event you do land a client in that space or category, you already have this inherent knowledge to get up and running quickly.

This is where relationship-building becomes crucial. Take advantage of the fact that publishers and technology providers know their business and we know our clients: let’s collectively work together to come up with unique solutions to better serve the client.

Understand the client’s real goal, not just the media goal.

This seems simple, but it’s not. From a business perspective, what are they trying to accomplish? This will determine which media choices to explore.

For example, is it really about getting more Facebook signups, or is the real goal to build an engaged community? Are we aiming to get more clicks or get more people to buy? It’s up to the agency to get to the heart of what we’re really looking to achieve.

By first determining the long-term goal, we’re better able to devise a strategy and choose the right tactics that will get us there, rather than merely throwing the latest and greatest tool in the chest at the situation to see what works.

Identify a mutually-defined measure of success. Managing client expectations in the digital space can be difficult as the ROI can sometimes be hard to define. The client must understand what’s realistic—and what is not. Don’t run any campaign unless the success metric has been defined, whether that be a specific number of clicks, sales, etc., or merely to move the needle.

Ask what it is that we’re trying to accomplish before we even start. Many times, the agency simply doesn’t ask—they just take the money and run, which is no way to build a long-term relationship with a client. Absent this clearly defined measure, I’d honestly rather not deploy the campaign, sacrificing the short-term dollars for the tradeoff of potential longer-term success.

The evolving digital space can seem even more chaotic for small shops, but it is certainly possible to compete with, and even outperform, the big boys when you build a network of vendor partnerships. Building a broad stable of resources that you can tap into on demand can give any size agency the flexibility and agility to meet ever-changing client needs and keep up with the latest innovations in the industry in the most economical and resource-friendly fashion.

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