“The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – J. B. Priestly. Outsourcing is hugely popular within the sphere of small business. It is common for smaller entities to lack the resources to attend to needs regarding advertising, marketing, IT, etc, so outside sources are called upon as contractors.
Establishing and maintaining contact with your service provider is of prime importance; as with employees on the same team, tasks are performed in an efficient manner when paths of communication are clearly implemented. Unfortunately, communication is not always fostered well by service providers or the company’s seeking their services.
Last week, I perused the site, WatchUs.com, a provider of wholesale charms and watch faces. I thought I could use the site as an example to showcase a few suggestions regarding maintaining social lines with an online marketing provider.
Establish a point of contact
Before signing the contract, a client should know exactly what services to expect and when they will receive them. A project manager should be assigned to each client, serving as the point of contact for the client on an on-going basis. It can be confusing for clients to have multiple points of contact; it is easy to maintain organization if the client is assigned a project manager.
The project manager should be responsible for maintaining germane client account info as well as directing other team members on tasks to be completed. The project manager can then delegate responsibilities to other team members regarding the client’s account.
Let’s consider a possible drawback of having multiple points of contact. For instance, WatchUs.com may want to modify the keywords in their search engine optimization campaign. Let’s say the company wants to include ‘gold charms’ into its keyword list. A representative from the company speaks to the company and modifies the keyword list. The next day, a writer assumes Web site content for the client without being privy to the modified keyword list, causing the need to redo the writing assignment at a later date. If one project manager was responsible for speaking with the client, modifying their data, and then informing the rest of the service provider team about the modification, there would be no hurdles.
Schedule monthly calls
Sometimes clients are very proactive in maintaining contact with their service providers (sometimes a bit too proactive regarding their frequency of contact), while other times it is not uncommon to wonder if a client has completely vanished from the face of the earth. Both extremes cause impediments to the success of an online marketing campaign. The possibility of extremes can be eliminated by scheduling monthly calls with the client. Depending on the breadth of the account, more contact may be warranted, but at least one monthly call can suffice in addressing client questions, reporting on the success of an on-going campaign, as well as addressing any client questions or concerns.
Clients can be very sporadic with their contacts if a predetermined process is not set in place. Establishing monthly calls allows for a time when clients can air all of their questions and concerns as well as a time when a project manager can methodically explain progress and impediments to the campaign.
Let’s consider another scenario. A representative from WatchUs.com has been trying to contact their service provider regarding new silver charms in stock, but has to repeatedly play phone tag. Such instances can increase the likelihood of the executives from WatchUs.com to feel anxious about their campaign and their service provider’s ability to properly address their concerns. A pre-established meeting lets both parties know there will be a definite opportunity to effectively communicate.
Who is the service professional?
The field of online marketing is still young. There is a lot of information available on the Web as well as within offline workshops to introduce material and augment old material learned, but the basic knowledge is not widespread. Since the subject is fairly new, it creates the opportunity for debate on whether what is/ will be effective. Many clients question planned maneuvers of their service providers, causing frustration and anxiety for both parties.
It is suggested for both parties to always maintain professionalism, but it is important for the client to defer to the service provider when it comes to decisions regarding their expertise. It becomes a touchy situation because online marketing is inextricably tied to the client’s revenue stream, yet clients have to come to realize they are paying a service provider because they do not have the means to address the services themselves; clients have to let their service providers do their job in the best way they know how. Questioning and second guessing should be mostly done when choosing a service provider. Once a provider has been chosen, it is time to let them perform the duties they were initially approached to perform.