Managing Client Expectations in Marketing

Matt, May 13, 2021

Your agency has done the legwork. You’ve signed that client you’ve been chasing, and now it’s time to get to work. At Capacity Marketing, we present each and every client with in-depth, extensive marketing research to ensure we’ve combed over all the details. We want to provide them with the very best recommendations and we can only do that after teaching ourselves everything we can about their industry, their competitors, and strategies to really help elevate their visibility and drive home the best ROI. Now we have a website to build, or a social media calendar to plan, blogs to write, landing pages to create, and all of these take time and a lot of love. Of course, immediate, tangible improvements can be delivered ASAP – but there are some deliverables, backend coding, and creative elements that don’t just happen overnight. Even more importantly, improvements to traffic, engagement, important analytics metrics improvements, and other telltale signs that the hard work your agency is putting in is getting results takes time. In this blog, we’re going to discuss managing client expectations in marketing. This is the first in our series, so buckle up!

Managing Client Expectations in Marketing – Setting the Standard

If you’ve heard that managing client expectations is a marketing agency’s greatest challenge, then you understand the hurdles in your way. It’s true. Even the most easy-going clients ranging from small businesses to corporate level organizations can get tripped up on the details of what to expect. It’s not uncommon, and if your firm or agency is experiencing confusion in the details, you’re not alone. The key takeaway here is that it’s important to start off on the right foot, and nip these issues in the bud before they compound and derail your and your client’s success. 

client communication

Internal and client communication is the key to keeping your deliverables, deadlines, and asset creation process running smoothly. Keep your finger on scope creep, accountability from both your team and the client, and when hiccups occur (and they will!), you’ll be ready to combat them by backing up prior communications and service agreements.

Setting expectations starts before you’ve even signed on the dotted line – remember it’s not a one size fits all industry, so from the moment you make contact with a potential client, your work understanding their needs and the level of communication they desire begins. A good sales team has a knack for feeling out client preferences, so right out of the gate your agency will have a pretty good understanding of whether or not this potential client needs a lot, or a little communication, whether they need to be walked through the processes, and your team can start to develop a strategy for timelines, deliverables, and ROI.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Most marketing agencies will tell you that the best way to combat any misunderstandings about marketing client expectations is that the more you communicate, the easier it will be to set your client up to feel like they’re prepared, in the know, and ready for the next steps. 

To ensure your entire team is on board, and your client is getting consistent and informed communication, standardized processes are a must. Whether your firm employs process documents, or go-sheets, unifying your team across clients can help close up any holes how, when, and why your firm delivers the information how and when they do. Equally as important is communicating with your fancy new client immediately and upfront on the processes and workflow your agency uses. 

Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

Trust us when we say we get it. We fully, 100% understand wanting to pump out fantastic content and deliverables that you know are going to drive success for your clients. This can turn into scope creep before you know it, and setting deadlines too soon, or saying yes before analyzing all the working parts can leave your whole team playing catch up. Of course, this ties back into communication, only in this capacity, we’re talking about internal conversations. If a client says jump, don’t ask “how high” until you’ve had a chance to loop everyone in. It will almost always serve the success of your agency better if you can set reasonable, realistic deadline expectations and over-deliver sooner than the expected date.

marketing workflow expectations

Be upfront about your team’s workflow, processes, and delivery methods. By outlining these clearly from the get-go, it helps with a baseline for marketing workflow expectations from the moment your new client signs on.

Stick to Agreed Upon Services

One extra website page here, squeezing in another email blast there…on occasion, as long as it doesn’t impede your team’s efficiency or productivity, these types of services are bound to happen. These one-offs are just fine but they can become an issue if the client keeps squeaking them in. We’re not just talking about the potential for less than top-quality work, but the impact it has on your team’s morale, too. The chances that as a firm, you only have 1 client, is pretty slim. These types of requests becoming commonplace can impact the work your team is doing for other clients, too.

Set Client Accountability Expectations

Your agency is creating all the assets and components needed to enact incredible campaigns, but the client has to provide a certain amount of feedback, and no doubt there are actions, assets, and elements they need to provide as well. Gauging the level of their involvement is our job as a firm, and that’s another one of those important details that starts from the moment your sales team makes contact. If your team requires the review of a newly created webpage, or your social team needs video, photos, or logos, they can’t do their job without them.

We haven’t even touched on how to set your clients up for a better understanding of metrics, data, and analytics, but stay tuned as we dive into our series on managing your client’s expectations. We’ll help give you some tips, provide you with some process ideas, and give you some examples of communication methods to keep everyone in the loop, up to speed, and on track.