Setting expectations is the first order of business when it comes to beginning a great client/agency partnership.
At Riafox, our goal is to have client buy-in from the very beginning—any agency who works in inbound marketing or growth-driven design (GDD) will attest to the fact that putting these campaigns together requires a large amount of cooperation and assistance from the client. The last outcome we want is a client assuming that their marketing and website design strategy should slum near the bottom of their to-do list, only to be addressed if they have any extra time at the end of the day.
The client or partner is the expert when it comes to their business or industry, and we want to make sure that we can leverage their knowledge as much as possible to produce the kind of content or website functionality that works best for their ideal clients. No department is exempt from participating and contributing to the overall marketing/GDD efforts—excelling in these campaigns grows the company, and everyone benefits from a growing business.
So, how do we get buy-in and make sure that the company knows exactly what we need to accomplish? A game plan. When we start working with a new inbound marketing or growth-driven design partner, a game plan is our first deliverable. (We usually present it to them 4-8 weeks after the kickoff meeting.)
Let’s first address what a game plan is, and then we can talk about why it’s so important in unifying efforts on both sides of the partner/agency relationship.
What is a Game Plan?
In a nutshell, a game plan is a document that outlines our strategic vision to accomplish the partner’s goals and leads us through a successful campaign.
Our game plans are huge documents that are the culmination of weeks of research and input from the partner—it includes items like partner goals, fundamental user assumptions, buyer’s journey, user research and data, personas, global site strategy, keyword research, competitor analysis, website and analytics audits, and a wish list that we create through brainstorming and discussions with the partner.
A game plan is not an extremely detailed to-do list of every deliverable that will be created over the next 12 months—we try to set the expectation with our partners that even though the overall goals and vision will be the same month-to-month, no one has a crystal ball to know what particular deliverables we’ll be working on seven or eight months down the road.
Think about how much your business has changed over the last year—would you really want a marketing company using the same tactics now that they did a year ago? Does that vision even align with your company goals now? We’re going to learn so much about your industry, ideal clients or partners, and business throughout the campaign that tactics are bound to change and shift.
How Does a Game Plan Help My Campaign?
A game plan is hugely important for many reasons—everything we hope to accomplish in the campaign is based on the game plan. More specifically, here are more reasons why you need to make sure you have a game plan before starting any inbound or GDD campaign:
- It guides your content marketing. You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint first, right? The same theory applies to inbound marketing. The first step in a marketing campaign isn’t writing blog posts—be prepared to put a lot of money down the drain if you go that route. An inbound marketing campaign doesn’t work without the strategy first.
- It keeps both the agency and client or partner accountable. Both inbound marketing and GDD work best when you have client participation. Having some sort of written document that describes what each party will be responsible for in the coming months will help the campaign stay on track.
- It gives you actionable strategy. As the guys over at DoInbound put it, “The GamePlan is part pep rally, part conference, and part strategy.” The client gets access to the agency’s expertise, knowledge, and strategy that is compiled in a neat, 100 percent actionable package. If the client wanted, they could implement this plan themselves (at least at a high level). A game plan is intended to equip the client and agency with all of the research and knowledge needed to implement intelligent action steps.
After reading about these benefits, why wouldn’t you want a game plan before you begin an inbound or GDD campaign? You’re able to set the vision, goals, and tone for the entire relationship before you even start. Every milepost is acknowledged ahead of time, and everyone—both on the client or partner and agency teams—are following the same road map to success.