Does Your Web Design Team Treat You Like a Partner, or a Client?

Although we may not have advanced degrees in psychology (okay, some of our team does), we feel confident in making a sweeping diagnosis of the traditional marketing industry: the dynamics of client-vendor relationships are all wrong.

How can we make that claim, without so much as a few hours spent on the couch?

Simple; you just have to look at the way most companies work with web designers and ad agencies. Although each should in theory have the same goal – more business for the client company – there is rarely ever enough direct, frequent communication between the parties to make that happen.

In fact, what tends to be more common is that the client arrives with a list of wishes or complaints, and the ad agency or web firm draws up a list of services, puts them into action after money has been exchanged, evaluates the results, and then gets the client to (usually) pay again for a slightly different set of services or actions. The whole thing generates a lot of activity, but it’s also very transactional. In other words, these firms are spending too much time treating their clients like… well, clients.

To see why that could be a problem, imagine for a moment that every great marketing company in the world stopped treating clients like clients, and started thinking of them as partners instead. Some important things would change right away:

1. Marketing companies would want their clients to explain more.

If a marketing company’s profitability was truly tied in to the sales and bottom-line results of their clients, they wouldn’t ever be able to get enough information. No detail about a customer or competitor would be too small to consider, and every piece of insight gained would be carefully analyzed and thought through. Sadly, this isn’t the way most research for marketing plans is conducted.

2. The approach to marketing would evolve naturally over time.

In the same way, most marketing companies wouldn’t be happy to do “more of the same” if they knew that the future of their own business was at stake. Instead, they would analyze the results from previous campaigns, remove unprofitable or inefficient activities, and continually look for creative solutions to new marketing challenges. The client’s ideas would blend together with the marketing team’s, until common-sense solutions were found.

3. Better, more efficient marketing results would be sure to follow.

Of course, this kind of thinking and attention to detail would change the relationship on both sides. Clients would have to know and understand more, but would demand more from their marketing teams in the process. The result would be a stronger relationship where getting better would be the top priority (instead of “getting it done,” or simply “getting paid”). With everyone looking at the bottom line, the actual marketing would have more real-world impact.

If this all sounds a little utopian for you, we understand, but also know that we have seen this dynamic work in our own offices in the past. It isn’t necessarily easy or straightforward to create collaborative relationships, instead of just “staying within the lines” of normal client and vendor situations, but taking the extra time, doing the extra research, and going the extra mile is well worth it. That’s because we see the businesses we work with grow in incredible ways, and they make our jobs easier by communicating exactly what they want and need regularly.

If you think you’d like an online marketing partner who thinks of you more like a partner, why not place a call to our offices and see what kind of difference that small change in perspective really makes?

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