Do you have a tax accountant, housekeeper, electrician or plumber on file?
All of these services, and many more, are out there for two reasons:
- You don’t have the time to do them.
- You don’t do them as well as someone whose job is built around those skills.
We do this every day—open the phone book, go to the web or solicit recommendations from Nextdoor and find the professionals who can do the work for us so we can focus on what we do best.
When we hit business obstacles, we wonder, “Am I doing it the right way? Or is there someone who can figure it out faster and better than I can?”
RPE Origin has been in the business of email for 16 years. We’ve seen a lot of things and we’ve worked on a lot of projects. We do this work full time. We can see the broad picture–what’s right, what’s wrong, what works, what doesn’t, and how to plan and strategize so you end up doing only the right thing.
It’s like working with your tax accountant. At tax time, you could spend two to three weeks going through a mind-numbing mass of tax rules and regulations to figure out if you owe money or if the government owes you.
Your tax accountant can do it faster and probably more accurately. Why? Because he/she works with this all the time and has the right education, training and experience.
For marketing folks, the same is true with email.
We don’t know everything about your business, and you don’t know everything about email. But an agency–any agency–has probably worked with businesses like yours in the past. We can learn your business specifics faster than you can get up to speed about all the aspects of email that determine whether you’ll succeed or fail.
When it’s time to bring in an agency
Agencies give you the specialized help you need so you can devote your time on the parts of your business you know better than anyone else.
When do you decide the time is right to work with an agency? These questions can help you clarify your path.
- When do you need to hire an email agency?
Now. Not later, but now.
Every company will need an agency at some point in its program development to check their work, to point out potential missed opportunities to grow the business and connect with a wider range of customers.
It’s not just for email help but also for mobile, social media. You need an unbiased, independent source who can help you get on the right track, point out the things you’re hitting out of the park or solve long-standing problems
We’ve encouraged companies to hire an outside agency to do a spot check, much like you bring in someone to check your heating and air conditioning systems to be sure they don’t break down when the temperature is minus 20 or over 100.
Yes, it costs money. But spending $150 to tune up your AC now beats spending $10,000 to replace it later.
In that same way, spending money now to create a profitable email program or fix a failing one can bring in revenue and save acquisition costs that far exceed the agency expense.
- How can I work successfully with an agency?
If you have built up your email program, or your business, by yourself, it can be hard to bring in people whose opinions might not mesh with yours. But these five steps can help you create a working relationship that delivers the best outcomes for the money.
Narrow your scope.
Whenever we work with potential clients, we ask simple questions: “What do you want us to do for you? What do you think is broken? What’s succeeding?” From there, we answer those questions and suggest some that you might not have overlooked.
You wouldn’t walk into your doctor’s office and shrug and say, “I don’t know what’s wrong. You figure it out.”
Agencies work best when you can understand what you need and convey it in specifics. Do your research before you meet, so you don’t end up saying, “I have a bunch of things that are wrong and I want you to fix them.” If nothing else, that gets expensive quickly.
Get a feel for the agency culture.
Any partner you work with should be invested in your business, your goals and customers. Hiring an agency isn’t just about pricing and capabilities but whether it will be a natural fit. To be successful, your agency has to work well with your people, to be able to build a good rapport, have good organization and accountability.
The only way to make that happen is to ask, “Will this agency fit in well with my extended team and executives?” The last thing you need is to hire an agency that will run your people the wrong way or communicate poorly with your C-level executives.
Know the agency team that will work on your account.
Just as an agency needs to work well with your team, you also need to know whom you’ll be working with. Who is doing your evaluation? Who is your main contact? Who is doing the day-to-day work?
Meet these people and understand their backgrounds, the breadth and depth of their professional knowledge and abilities. You have to be okay with giving these people permission to work with your team.
Even something as minor as how people communicate is important. Do you prefer phone calls or email updates? Is a daily check-in on Slack enough or do you need something more formal?
Don’t think your vertical or company is unique in the world.
We talked to a financial services company the other day. Our agency does a lot of financial services work for some of the world’s biggest companies. This prospect asked, “Do you work with this scenario?” Our answer was “No, but we have worked with many companies like yours.”
You need to tell us specifically how your company operates: your customers, your customer lifecycle, your processes – anything that makes your company unique. All of that is teachable. No agency works well on all verticals, but our advantage is that we have worked in many similar verticals: retail, finserve, automotive, travel, non-profit (oh, and other agencies).
While we might not have a CV that matches your company’s specialty, we bring a wealth of knowledge from many other verticals. A good agency can learn your business quickly. It’s what we do. Then we leverage our own experiences to adapt to yours. Our job is to learn your company and adapt email.
For example, every strategy should start with a consumer retail archetype. The consumer didn’t learn to get on the internet by coming to your website. They learned it on news sites and AOL and YouTube, on Facebook, on Instagram, Slack and TikTok.
Agencies know that consumer archetype well. Our job is to learn yours, and overlay that consumer type on your business.
Read through your Statement of Work
Your SOW – the agreement you draw up with your agency – is your gateway to the services you will enjoy. It’s not just a contract. It’s a road map of what your agency will do for you.
What will the output be? What will the agency look at? Is it a tightly defined document?
Don’t assume anything is part of your agreement if the SOW doesn’t spell it out. What you don’t want to have happen is to get halfway into an engagement and then have to ask for something that wasn’t included.
Understand that that is the point when your agency will ask for a change order because you have expanded the scope of the work. “Scope creep” comes with extra cost. Work with your agency to understand why a request will cost extra and how you can avoid these additional charges.
Agencies are companies, too. We have bills and employees to pay. When your agency bills you for work that’s not included in your SOW, it’s not gouging you. It’s just covering the extra costs it has to incur to do the work you have requested.
This might sound like a blatant sales pitch for RPE Origin. It’s not. Our aim is to create something we can pass on to our prospects to help them understand where we come from and where they can start from.
Much of what we’ve said here could apply to any agency out there, except out secret sauce..which is AMAZING! (ok, tiny sales pitch)
We go through all these things in our own onboarding and calls before the SOWs get signed. We hold our customers’ hands as we go through this because we want our work together to be a long-term investment, not a short-term thing.
But, while I’m posting this for our prospects, it’s also intended to help people who are looking around and wondering if it’s time to reach out for the specialized help an agency can provide, how to get started and how to get the most out of that relationship.
We hope you have a great rest of your day. Now it’s time to go pay the lawn guy.