If you’re a leader at a company, no matter what industry you’re in, your goal is the same: nurture the business and help it grow. But growing an organization takes a lot of work. You need to understand your evolving marketplace, competitors, and customer needs. At first, handling everything in-house may seem doable, but growing a team at the same pace as your ambitions can sometimes be too much. At Tallwave, we believe that in order to meet your organization’s goals you should be doing a little of both in-house and partner collaboration.
If you’re on the fence about working with a partner, we get it. Relinquishing aspects of your business to an external partner might be easier said than done, especially if your business is your baby. Here’s what to look for when selecting the right partner.
In-House vs. Agency
We don’t believe in separating in-house and agency work – we should all be striving to do a little of both as an organization. An agency partner isn’t going to know your brand as well as your in-house team, but your team might not have the resources to adequately scale your business. Working with a blend of both should result in an achievable but strategic plan to grow your market share.
If your tactics have not been performing as desired with an in-house team, it’s not that there’s a lack of expertise. More likely, it’s a lack of experience. This is where having an agency partner comes in handy. Making business decisions in-house with people who are in the day-to-day may result in similar ideas you’ve already come up with – the same ideas that could be stunting your growth. A partner can help you locate blind spots and bring a fresh perspective, new techniques, and the experience that an in-house team might be lacking. Since helping brands is the entire purpose of agencies, they are able to help businesses reach their goals with the resources, creative approaches, and networks they use.
An in-house team may also be too invested and biased towards their current models and processes, which could limit their ability to make bold, but necessary decisions. Working with a partner can bring an objective perspective and help push businesses towards making these key decisions. Additionally, partners see similar patterns in challenges, goals, and circumstances across companies. This is usually much broader than what an in-house team has come across. A good partner can leverage their work and capacities across clients with similar business models while acting as a counterpart to your deep domain expertise.
What Do We Look for in a Client?
While the client is vetting us, we’re doing the same to ensure we would work well together. We want to feel just as comfortable working with them and vice versa. As a partner, we’re looking to help our clients grow, expand their business, and reach their goals. We want to work with change agents within companies who have dug a little deeper than your basic, high-level thinking. We want potential clients to come to us looking for an answer on how to solve a specific problem.
For instance, instead of saying, “We need somebody to do SEO for us,” we’re looking for clients who have asked themselves, “What program am I trying to drive?” Now, if you haven’t asked yourself these questions, that’s okay! As your partner, we can help you uncover these larger questions you’re having trouble answering. Maybe you need help with customer acquisition or full funnel conversion optimization. When clients ask themselves these deeper questions, we can see that they’re hungry for growth and looking at a more holistic picture, rather than their immediate needs. This way of thinking will make them more responsive and open to new ideas on how to achieve their goals.
We also look for a willingness to learn and collaborate with our potential partners. As outsiders, we don’t know your brand or customer base as well as you. This is where collaboration comes into play. By working with your in-house team to learn the ins and outs of your business, our teams will be able to develop a better strategy to help reach your goals.
What Should Clients Look for in an Agency?
As noted before, both agencies and clients are vetting each other before settling on a partner. We’ve noticed that many companies today are still looking for vertical expertise. This means clients look for partners that have experience in only one type of industry or specialized needs. We understand this rationale – if you’re in the healthcare industry, you might want a partner that has experience working with other healthcare clients. However, this way of thinking could result in similar campaigns to competitors or outdated technologies. Isn’t the point of working with a partner to think outside the box and set yourself apart from the competition?
In today’s world where the customer is everything for a brand, you should be looking to understand the customer’s motives and needs. With this in mind, clients should be looking for a partner that has worked cross-industries, is focused on the customer experience, and truly understands user personas and needs. In turn, the partner they choose to work with should be able to design and drive performance for their client no matter their industry, trade, or profession.
Next, you should be looking for an agency that is ready to learn the intricacies of your business. The way we like to do this at Tallwave is by setting up workshops with our clients to learn the brand and how we can help meet their goals. We pull in our client consultants, capability consultants, and salespeople to ask more in-depth business questions than a typical agency. We ask that our clients do the same by bringing their key stakeholders into these workshops. Rallying up the people who know customer experience, acquisition, and the brand will give an agency partner the ability to see a full picture of your business. While these teams will likely have different initiatives, budgets, and perspectives, they all impact growth.
Last but not least, you should look for a partner that is going to challenge you. They shouldn’t be overly aggressive, but they should have a strong enough voice to stand by their decisions. Being challenged by your partner means they’re invested in the right outcomes for your business, not just the work.
Deciding which approach works best for your business can take some time. It took Tallwave some time to figure out how we wanted to work with our clients as well. We started as three separate companies that focused on separate initiatives. After some time, we pulled those three companies together because we saw the need to combine those different skill sets in order to achieve solutions for our customer’s biggest pain points. Since merging, we’ve done a lot of learning and growing ourselves from our clients. This added knowledge has helped us refine and adjust our tactics as needed so that we’re able to cater our services to each client, regardless of their industry. If you’re still not sure what’s best for your business, give us a call. We’re more than happy to talk through this journey with you.
Written by Jeff Pruitt–CEO