I left my corporate position as a digital marketing manager to become a consultant at LeadMD.
Unlike most of my friends who did the agency grind right out of college, I started working at established companies and began “climbing the corporate ladder.” Only five years out of college, I managed my company’s entire digital presence and the people who made that experience great.
It was totally awesome, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had moved into this role too quickly. Was I doing everything according to best practices? Nobody else at my company did what I did, so I didn’t know. That realization inspired me to leave my corporate gig, move to Arizona, and work at LeadMD.
But this post isn’t about my career change. It’s about what I learned during this transition that is important for you, the corporate marketer. Since I’ve been on both sides – corporate and agency – I wanted to share some key takeaways about what works and what doesn’t when you’re working with an agency.
Tips for Maximizing your Agency Investment
Without further ado, here are my words of wisdom for working with a Marketo agency.
Understand How Your Agency Works
One of the most common challenges you will face with an agency is understanding how time and resources are allocated to your project.
At LeadMD, we work in two week sprints. That means our workload is planned out for us in two week blocks. If you have a big initiative you’d like us to tackle “now,” it might not be possible. Being agile, our sprints are somewhat flexible, but if you want us to redesign your website in two weeks, it ain’t gonna happen!
Go Beyond Tactical Execution
At LeadMD, pretty much every consultant has a similar story. Most of us had influential positions at our last place of employment. We managed employees, were responsible for KPIs, created budgets, and developed strategies. Put simply, we’ve walked a mile in your shoes.
Despite the ball of awesomeness at our clients’ fingertips, we find they often fall into the trap of using consultants as tactical resources. Maybe they honestly need help deploying emails or maybe they don’t have the time to be strategic. Whatever the reason, I highly caution you from letting this approach last. You’re better off hiring a full time employee for that.
Perfect the Art of Project Management
LeadMD has project managers assigned to every client initiative. The PM understands where we are in an initiative, keeps us on deadline, follows up with people who are slacking, and generally, are key players in an initiative’s success.
You really want a point person on your side as well. We’ve all heard “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Your consultant should know who to go to for key decisions, especially if we are getting competing directives from your team.
Have Reasonable Expectations
We want to go the extra mile for you, but please don’t expect your consultant to be available all hours of the night and on weekends.
I can guarantee you most of us are already working outside normal business hours. (We love what we do!) However, please remember consultants have lives outside of work, just like you. If you know you have a big project that might require evening or weekend work, communicate that up front so we can plan things together.
Acknowledge that Your Consultant Won’t Have ALL the Answers
Taking on a consulting gig was the most challenging move I’ve made in my career. Going from managing one instance to multiple client instances is certainly not easy. Plus, everyone at LeadMD seemed to be smarter than me during those first couple of months.
Over time, I have realized that every consultant has his or her strengths and it’s literally impossible to have all of the answers. This is a good thing for you!
The best part about working with an agency is that you have 20 minds instead of one! If I am unsure about something, I never hesitate to tell my clients, “Let me run that by the team” before I make a recommendation. Having been in your shoes, I’d rather have a consultant do that than give me a lousy recommendation.
I consider myself fortunate to have spent time on both sides of the client-consultant table. Running the show for my organization has helped me understand where you’re coming from, empathize with your immediate challenges, and leverage my team here at LeadMD to get you the best possible results.
My absolute favorite part about being a consultant is helping clients accomplish something they didn’t think was possible. Sometimes being a consultant can feel like a thankless job, but man, when I see clients become heroes at their organizations, it’s so worth it.
I hope this article helps you get the most out of your agency relationship. If you have any other tips to add, please add them in the comments below or tweet them at me at @jamielmaynard or at @myleadmd.
Meet Jamie Kirmess
With a can-do attitude and passion for marketing, Jamie will inspire you to push your marketing boundaries. She believes marketing automation is a tool to accomplish organizational goals and strives to offer solutions that consider the bigger picture. Prior to joining LeadMD, Jamie worked as a digital engagement manager at an ed tech start up where she oversaw a team of PR, design, account management, content development and social media strategists. Earlier in her career, she spent four years at a global market research company where she helped lead the introduction and adoption of Marketo. Jamie earned a BA in Integrative Public Relations from Central Michigan University and an MA in Advertising and Public Relations from DePaul. Beyond marketing, Jamie enjoys spending time with her husband Jimmy and three rescued pups, Graham, Kane, and Prim. She loves exploring Northern MI, sipping a good red zin or IPA, eating all kinds of cheese and sweating her stress away during a hot yoga class.