In this episode, Stacy Jones sits down with “Business Of Digital” co-host and Northside Metrics founder Dave Rohrer to discuss what brands need to know before you hire an agency.
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Hollywood Branded Refresher Episodes
Check out some of the past interviews below:
- EP 115: How To Leverage PR and Secure Free Publicity With Heather Burgett | The Burgett Group
- EP 114: Effective Digital Media Marketing With Sharifah Hardie | X ROADS TV
- EP 101: Influencer Marketing Law with Sharon Touerek | Legal And Creative
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- 3 Examples Of Influencer Marketing Gone Wrong
- How Entertainment Marketing Is Different Than Advertising… or PR
- Effective Digital Media Marketing With Sharifah Hardie
- Influencer Marketing Trends To Look Out For In 2019
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Stacy Jones: 00:00
- Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influence for marketing in product placement agency, Hollywood Branded. I created this podcast series to provide brand marketers a learning platform for topics for us to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today. I truly understand as an agency owner and brand marketer that it is impossible to be well versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results.
Stacy Jones: 00:24
- My goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy, or money along the pathway to bettering your brand whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.
- Welcome to Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.
Stacy Jones: 00:40
- I am so happy to be here with you all today. I want to give a very warm welcome to Dave Rohrer. He’s joining us to discuss his over 20 years of experience in marketing and consulting. As an in-housing agency digital leader, Dave solved problems, increase revenue for companies of all sizes from Retail 100 and Fortune 500 to small, local, and startup businesses. Dave is the cohost to the Business of Digital Podcast and runs Chicago based digital agency, North Side Metrics.
Stacy Jones: 01:05
- Dave’s an internationally recognized speaker who can be found sharing his digital marketing wisdom at conferences like PePcon Pro, Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, and the Craft Growers Conference. Today we’re going to talk about what brands need to know before you hire an agency. We’re going to learn what’s worth from Dave’s experience, what maybe could be avoided and where other brands are missing the mark. Dave, welcome.
Dave Rohrer: 01:26
- Thank you.
Stacy Jones: 01:26
- I’m super happy to have you here today. If you want to start off, tell us a little bit about how long you’ve been doing what you do, about your background, where you were at and what got you to where you’re doing what you do today.
Dave Rohrer: 01:39
- Chaos is the probably be the story in how I got to where I’m at, started as a web developer, was tired of being told by marketing people who didn’t know how the web worked, how to do marketing and conversion marketing and stuff, so I ended up switching to SEO, spends about 10 years in-house SEO for SAS Solutions, publishers, a couple other small companies here and there. I’ve also spent about 10 years either consulting north agencies where I’ve worked at really large … You’ve probably-
Dave Rohrer: 02:14
- Everyone that shops or is listening has probably shopped at least at one of the stores for companies I’ve worked at from really large retailers to really large producers of tech in your house, perhaps your car. I’ve seen it all. I’ve worked with really small startups with really smart small teams but I’ve also worked with really large companies where their internal teams had never talk to each other yet were in the same building, and sometimes less than a hundred feet away from each other.
Dave Rohrer: 02:45
- Sometimes it’s really amazing how that even in the recent years it’s still going on, so yeah, worked all over the place and done a lot of different things.
Stacy Jones: 02:56
- I am very glad to have you on because what triggered me wanting to have you here today is the fact that you have worked so many different places and you’ve worked with so many different brands, so many different agencies over that time. You had honed in on the fact that sometimes brands don’t really know what to do and what they’re doing when they hire an agency. There’re some major hurdles that they need to get over in order to make sure those partnerships are started.
Stacy Jones: 03:25
- I’d love to talk to you about that, about why brands are looking for agencies, what issues there are about starting working with them, what their expectations, misconceptions are, anything along those lines.
Dave Rohrer: 03:37
- They usually hire an agency to be a silver bullet. They hire an agency or some third party to fix their creative issues, to fix their website, to help them with their brand issues. They don’t want to talk about that they might have issues about their product or customer service but it’s a marketing things and we can fix it with marketing. We have a website and it really doesn’t do well in Google, so we’re just going to redo it and we’re not going to talk to anyone about it.
Dave Rohrer: 04:07
- We’re just going to hire an agency because we’re not quite sure why. Whatever that problem is, you internally just have either roadblocks or there’s just chaos of people not agreeing so you go and get a third party to tell you what to do. The biggest thing I see is that they go and get this agency and then they think they’re done. They think that this is the silver bullet, “They’re going to fix all of our problems,” and they really don’t think through what the goals are, how can they leverage that agency, how they can work with that agency and that that agency is probably going to give them more work than they ever imagine to do to fix these things.
Dave Rohrer: 04:49
- Especially when it comes to your digital marketing, your SEO, your PPC, yeah your social media, suddenly you’re being asked to create all sorts of content either for the website or for Facebook or now we’re getting it on Instagram and we need our graphic designers to do lots of work and lots of video and in this to tie in all these campaigns. Now we have to have meetings to talk about how we tie in all of these campaigns into the work that this agency is doing. We thought we are just going to tell the agency to do X, Y, Z.
Stacy Jones: 05:19
- We see that ourselves so often where not only are we expecting to do X, Y, Z and create a miracle but we’re not necessarily allocated budgets because the solution has hired the agency and magic will happen, not, “No, we need to actually allocate dollars to make that happen,” as well. Is that something that you see quite a bit?
Dave Rohrer: 05:40
- Yeah and I’ve started asking this question upfront, “What are your resources?” Whatever the project is or whatever the scope is that we might be talking about, what resources do you have? Do you have budget for Facebook? Do you have budget for any social ads? Do you have budget for Google and Bing ads? Are you active anywhere? What are you doing as direct mail? What are you doing as influential outreach? Do you have a social team? Do you have writers?
Dave Rohrer: 06:05
- Do you have external writers? Developers, what resources do you have in your marketing, in your dev, any stock that you have? What do you have and what works for you? What doesn’t? How can I fit into that? Because, like you just said, they want a miracle and then you start running into, “We hired you and now we don’t have budget to do that.”
Stacy Jones: 06:30
- Yup. A lot of times, the agency is the budget.
Dave Rohrer: 06:32
- Yes and it was not planned.
Stacy Jones: 06:34
- No because the agency thinks that they are being brought in to do all these different things that they’re going to ideate and scope and plan for and open doors for and execute upon but dollars are still needed.
Dave Rohrer: 06:49
- Yeah and the biggest thing I stress is before you talk to an agency to do whatever you need help with, do a full on internal audit of all of your people, of all of your resources if you’re going to be doing a site migration or changing from a CMS or changing your e-mail provider and you’re looking to talk to any consultant to help you with your e-mail files, why would you … Bring them in before you switch to make sure that they understand the new platform you’re moving onto and that they’re actually an expert in Math.
Dave Rohrer: 07:22
- Not hire an expert on the current platform and then they go, “I’ve never worked with that new platform,” because I’ve seen that thing happen time and time again.
Stacy Jones: 07:34
- Yeah, I absolutely get that. Then you mentioned something also about internal issues. I know a lot of brands think that an agency is going to be able to solve the problem of two owners or a marketing team or the executive board not necessarily all being on the same page but when you hire an agency and everyone still internally all over the place, that’s not really the best solution either.
Dave Rohrer: 08:01
- No. The larger the company, the more time you need to allocate as a mid-agency, the more time you need to allocate more resources, more meeting time to have with people and other stakeholders that are not the ones that actually define and are over your budget. The number of times where we have had to put together point of POVs and decks and sales decks for internal projects that we were trying to get through to other teams and basically make sure that we understood what their goals were so that we could make sure that those were then mentioned and covered in our deck to show that this project was not just going to just be a time sync or a resource sync for their budget.
Dave Rohrer: 08:48
- Because, their budget is different, their goals are different. Everything is different, so make sure that our project would align or at least support their goals. Yeah, it can go crazy. I know someone that was doing, trying to drive a lot of traffic and a lot of views to this really cool video that have been produced by this other team. They went to the PR team and said, “Hey, you guys. Every time you push stuff out, every time you guys are doing X, Y, Z, you’re pushing people over to this YouTube area, not our own page.”
Dave Rohrer: 09:24
- What they ended up finding out was that team, bonus and everything that all of their goals were aligned with was YouTube views, not anything that … It wasn’t even remotely close to what they were trying to do, so they got no support.
Stacy Jones: 09:38
- Hopefully, they got lots of YouTube videos.
Dave Rohrer: 09:40
- Hopefully but it wasn’t even there, so yeah. That’s the internal stuff that you can shoot yourself on the foot with when teams are just not aligned.
Stacy Jones: 09:49
- Right. We’ve also seen agencies be hired by brands to cover a multitude of different topics. The brand’s new. They’re launching. They’ll go out. They want a PR agency. They want a web agency. They get all of these different agencies but they don’t necessarily act as the cohesive unit to actually bring all those agencies together. They just magically think it’s going to happen.
Dave Rohrer: 10:22
- Yes. They never once let them know that they’re working with other teams. They never once share the campaign and what’s going on. From an SEO standpoint or PPC or social media, it’s like if there’s anything going on and then you’re trying to run like someone is showing on Good Morning America or some show and all these other teams and all these other agencies all think that the date is next Sunday or next Saturday or they don’t even know and the lead time is given by two weeks or one week, and they’re like, “We’ve already have these deliverables, we already have all these plans, what do you want to do?”
Dave Rohrer: 11:01
- That’s probably another thing is just the changing of priorities for an agency and scope creep not just on a project but on the entire partnership of, “Here is the contract,” and three months in, that project goes away or the scope, and there was a stakeholder meeting or there was a quarterly meeting and we’re not meeting goals or maybe we’ve exceeded goals, and now we don’t need so much love and attention on this project but we need to go over here but you’ve just directed your agency for the last two or three months to go down this path. All time and resources has gone down there and now you’re trying to change them and you expect the same results the next week.
Stacy Jones: 11:48
- Right and your agency is running around like a chicken with its head cut off desperately trying to please the client and make sure that they don’t kill their employees at the same time.
Dave Rohrer: 11:56
Stacy Jones: 11:58
- Yes. Very familiar with this, it sounds like, right?
Dave Rohrer: 12:02
- If you’re in an agency, yes. Then the other thing along those lines is when you’re an in-house person, if you’ve never worked at an agency and I got to see this more when I work on the other side, when you ask for something, the agency’s person if there’s not a project manager or if it doesn’t go to an account manager and is not a very good account manager, they probably don’t do this or that at least they should, when do you need this? What format do you need it?
Dave Rohrer: 12:30
- Does this override all other priorities like what is the priority level of this? If you just send off an e-mail and say, “Hey, take a look at this,” and you have a limited budget of deliverables, of time, of energy, of really tight deadline on something that’s supposed to be turned around, where does that fall?
Stacy Jones: 12:50
Dave Rohrer: 12:52
- Often, in-house people wonder why at the end of the month or halfway through a month if you have the retainer with an agency or some limited amount of time budget, whatever it is that they wonder why halfway through the contract, they’ve run out of stuff and resources from that agency because the agency is like, “Every month, by the 15th, you’ve given us Ed Hock request and we already have these other projects, so we can’t answer anymore.”
Stacy Jones: 13:19
Dave Rohrer: 13:20
- Scope creep at the agency level and then you wonder why that budget. Then yeah, nobody wins.
Stacy Jones: 13:28
- How should brand managers approach hiring and onboarding an agency better?
Dave Rohrer: 13:33
- I think starting with that internal audit and understanding what your people and your resources are, what do you have, if you are to hire someone like you, did they actually have the ability to get some product placement if you are to do an influence or outreach? Do you actually have legal ability to send out your products? Do you have the okay? If you’re doing any other digital marketing, do you have the resources to possibly implement anything?
Dave Rohrer: 14:03
- If you don’t know, think about what projects you could do if you were not to hire that agency, what projects would you do. If your IT team is not going to let you make changes to the website for the next year, hiring an SEO agency is really not going to do a lot because we’re going to tell you to do different changes to your website and you’re going to tell us that it’s going to be another year before your IT team can do any single change to the website, why did you just hire me as an SEO agency?
Stacy Jones: 14:31
- That’s fair.
Dave Rohrer: 14:33
- Stakeholders, look beyond your boss, your boss’s boss but look to the other teams so that when you do bring in projects, you can make sure and understand what their goals are for this quarter for this year. I think you’re going to be able to share some of the things I sent along but it’s really imperative when you’re thinking about what your personal goals are, start at the company and work your way down.
Dave Rohrer: 15:01
- Start at the company goals. Think about your marketing team, your IT team, your social team, whatever group you are, keep rolling up and then roll down, and think about what all those goals are and what those others you can work on. Then start to think about where you’re short in people and resources, and that’s when you start to go, “Okay, this is the type of agency we need. We need an agency that can help us with X.”
Dave Rohrer: 15:28
- That’s where we’re weak and this is the one thing we really need. I think that’s like just that whole process of thinking through it rather than we’re lacking here.
Stacy Jones: 15:40
- Let’s say you’re a new brand, right? Out of the gate, you haven’t really … No concerns even aware of you quite yet, what is the first agency type that you think a brand should onboard? Then how rapidly should they start onboarding additional agencies before they’re really in sync to be able to work with everyone?
Dave Rohrer: 16:09
- I’m an SEO by trade, so of course my answer is going to be it depends. I literally have this caller earlier this week with someone that they have a startup. It’s a SAS solution. They are looking to start doing another website, they have a product that’s almost going to launch and no other marketing, no one at anything else. “Who are you targeting?” I think is the very first question is to ask is, “Who are you targeting?”
Dave Rohrer: 16:34
- Is it a certain good decision maker? Are you B2B? Is it B2C? Are you both? Think about who you’re targeting and then start working back from how can we get in front of them, whoever that decision or decision maker is, and there might be multiple, how do we get in front of them? From there, I think it answers the question of what type of agency, who do we reach out to and where to start? Do you need a website?
Dave Rohrer: 16:59
- Yes. Does it just need to be some MVP, landing page maybe with very simple brochure? Very possibly. Do you need a very elaborate off right from the start now with video and demos, and all walkthroughs? Maybe, depending on what your product is. For long time, Twitter as complicated as it was and I don’t know if they can get away with it or not, depending on how do you want to look at it but their homepage was very simple probably to the detriment but it was very simple.
Dave Rohrer: 17:31
- Now, there’s a lot of people that can launch a page and it’s just coming soon. If you’re a startup and you get PR, do you have anything? What if you get on Tech Crunch? What if you get on some local or national TV and you don’t expect it? Do you have a website or web presence that you can tell people to go to and sign up and get on a waiting list for?
Stacy Jones: 17:51
- Right. Do you have a media kit?
Dave Rohrer: 17:54
Stacy Jones: 17:55
- If you wanted to influence your marketing, they ran into brands like, “We want to do influence your marketing. We want to work with influence or oppose about our brand and help us get sales,” and they don’t have a website or they don’t quite have a website yet, there’s no place for someone to actually purchase the product or they don’t have social media either. They haven’t developed an Instagram or Facebook, whatever it might be.
Stacy Jones: 18:18
- As these influencers that they’re paying to work with, they’re not growing their own audience because they don’t have any platform to go from.
Dave Rohrer: 18:25
- Yeah and you need your own platform.
Stacy Jones: 18:27
Dave Rohrer: 18:29
- You really need to be active. I preach that even if you’re not going to use it, whenever you’re registering your business name, your idea name and product name, get every social handle you can. Get every domain you can and then if you do nothing but sit on it just so you have it, please do that even for new products.
Stacy Jones: 18:51
- Social media. If I had gone back in the day and realize that Twitter had a limit on names that you could have, I might have changed our agency name if I thought we were really doing marketing into our Twitter because we can’t fit Hollywood Branded in Twitter as a name. We’d have to get really creative with that. Having social platforms where one of them is Hollywood Branded Inc., one of them is Hollywood Branded. One of them is Hollywood_PR. It changes your whole personality. That’s something big for brands just to think about.
Dave Rohrer: 19:22
- Yeah and we did that when we started the podcast, my podcast. We went through all of the names. As we are doing it, we are online, both of us checking to see if can we get the domain, can we get the social handles before we finalize and stop arguing about which ones we really like the most.
Stacy Jones: 19:39
Dave Rohrer: 19:39
- It eliminated some options pretty quickly.
Stacy Jones: 19:41
- Yeah. It’s true. It’s your calling card in having that website and having those social platforms. That’s where today’s people go. That’s the first place anyone looks at your business.
Dave Rohrer: 19:52
- Yeah, depending on where it is but yeah, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, your site in Google or anywhere even if you are at say a restaurant or some other business, there’s a review site of some sort out there that covers your industry. Most of them allow you to send people to your website, so you need to have one.
Stacy Jones: 20:12
- Hundred percent. What is the actual time commitment that our brand needs to think about before hiring an agency as well? We’ve talked about the fact that they have to be involved but how involve do you think someone needs to determine it’s going to be?
Dave Rohrer: 20:31
- Not to say it depends because that’s a bad answer. It’s true but what are they taking on? How often do you have meetings? I’ve worked with companies where we had a weekly standup meeting. We had a weekly scrum meeting and we had a weekly 30 minute meeting where we had a 30 minute prior and then we had internal others as an agency. I’ve been an in-house person where we met with our agency once a month because a lot of it was, “Let’s meet. What’s the update? Okay, now go run.”
Stacy Jones: 21:04
Dave Rohrer: 21:05
- There’s other times where things are moving really quickly and you might need one once a week or even sometimes twice a week. Even if it’s just a 15 minute check-in on Tuesday to go over the last couple days and then 15 minute on Friday and it’s just every Friday at 10:00 a.m., we have a quick standup meeting, “Is there anything that you guys need from us? Is there anything we need to get you today so that you’re not behind next week?”
Dave Rohrer: 21:28
- Yes, no, we’ll prioritize internally but at least once a month, I think just to go over reporting and to go over updates and status reports with whoever the account manager, project manager is should probably be managing that to give you updates on your overall contract, overall progress towards whatever that campaign project contract scope is. I’ve also seen places that have way too many meetings.
Dave Rohrer: 21:59
- I’ve found some meeting calculators that really scare people and there are certain plugins online that you can use where to plug into your Google Calendar and it’ll tell you the percentage of time that you spend in your day and meetings.
Stacy Jones: 22:11
- Yeah. I think my Microsoft Office actually sends me a weekly update now on that.
Dave Rohrer: 22:17
- Does it?
Stacy Jones: 22:17
- Yes. It tells me also how many times I’m emailing through those meetings.
Dave Rohrer: 22:22
- Aha. Yeah. The one cool plugin I’ve found before would also talk about how many meetings are just two or three people, how many are six to eight, how many u-calls like how many are recurring. It was just ridiculous. I think that also talks to one of the things that I think in-house people should do especially the larger the company you are, you’re almost an agency. I know most in-house people if you’re on either the PR team, social team, whatever, you probably have different business lines, stakeholders, services.
Dave Rohrer: 22:58
- If you’re on the SEO or PPC side, you probably have the same type of thing or depending on the who runs the campaign, who owns that service, that product line, business line, sub companies and sub brands that might not be big enough to have their own marketing team, they roll up to you and you service them. You’re an agency. You’re an in-house agency and you need to think like one. I think thinking like one will also help you work with an agency as well.
Stacy Jones: 23:25
- Yeah, agree. Everything is you’re reporting to a client no matter if you’re on the brand side or the agency’s side.
Dave Rohrer: 23:31
- Yeah and that was one of like when I went from in-house to agency, I got a lot of question from people that were like, “You’ve never worked agency. You’ve only worked in-house for eight years.” I was like, “I had more clients when I was an in-house person than you’ll probably give me when I’m an agency.” I’m like depending on the company, sometimes I had the CEO, the VP of marketing, the CFO because I work with them on customer service.
Dave Rohrer: 23:57
- I also had the CTO because I ran the website. Many time there was a problem with the website or the lead is propagating from form through sales force and into our backend system, I had to go sit with the CTO who is also my client like I was like I have all of these different clients. I know how it works.
Stacy Jones: 24:15
Dave Rohrer: 24:16
- Yeah. If you don’t think about it like that, I think a lot of people are like, “We just have all these people requesting stuff.” I’m like, “Yeah, because you’re an agency.”
Stacy Jones: 24:27
- Beyond doing the audit and figuring out who is going to do what, who has time to do what, what are some other best ways brands can ensure big wins with agency partnerships?
Dave Rohrer: 24:40
- I think if you’ve done those things and you thought through, talking to an agency, one thing I’ve seen at least on the digital side, a lot of agencies will bring out their best speaker, their best talker, their best sales people. Ask who’s actually going to work on your account. Are they bringing out their best person and how much time of that best person who’s selling you on their brain trust and their skills and what they can do, actually meet and have-
Dave Rohrer: 25:12 There were some agencies that hated my boss and I that one time but we literally in every contract, we tell them, “The person that you brought out and the people that came onto us, we understand that they’re at a certain level they’re not going to spend all of their time on our account. If they go, so does our contract,” or unless we agree with the next person but we at least want them overseeing and active on it.
Dave Rohrer: 25:37
- We understand they’re not going to do 100%, that’s where we’re realistic but when someone brings out their top person who sells you on all of this stuff and then you get the junior person who just graduated college that does 95% of the work and doesn’t actually understand what your business does or even like what they’re doing, that can be a problem.
Stacy Jones: 26:01
- You don’t want to pay people to learn on the job?
Dave Rohrer: 26:04
- Yes but no, not with our small budget or even your big budget. Yes, you understand that some of the monotonous, some of the busy work from a project is going to go through a junior person but I think a lot of times, agencies will bring out their best people and then they never look at that account again.
Stacy Jones: 26:25
Dave Rohrer: 26:28
- That’s good and bad with the large. You get the large agency, they have a lot of people but the larger those really large agencies, they have this team that goes around and they do all the selling and they do all the … You might see them every quarter maybe when they come by and say hello and shake your hands but they haven’t look at your account other than on the plane ride.
Stacy Jones: 26:52
- Right. Where do you think some of the opportunities are to win big for brands and agencies to work together?
Dave Rohrer: 26:59
- I think setting on a realistic plan and lining up your goals with the deliverables and with the scope and what’s realistic and what’s realistic in a timeline as far as if you’re going for leads or sales or you’re just launching a new site, if you know your internal people have to review every single deliverable or every single creative created, don’t expect that they’re going to be able to turn around something in a week because you know internally your own processes will get in the way.
Dave Rohrer: 27:37
- I think being realistic with your own self and your own processes and being upfront with the agency and say, “We really want to approve everything but it’s going to slow things down,” and we know it, how quickly can you move if we give you something? If we turn something around to you on a Wednesday, we know it always won’t happen but can we on regular basis get things to us by that Monday so that we can review and we get back to you?
Dave Rohrer: 28:06
- Can that be a process? I think having that kickoff meeting and have a kick off meeting, one but two, set realistic goals, let the agency know what the metrics are that you’re measured by. If they want to keep your business, this is what we need to do. We need to move the needle on these many units or on these products or on these services, this is what and how we will look good and how we’ll make our boss look good and how we’ll be able to give you more business.
Stacy Jones: 28:36
- Right. I think the other thing on the opposite side for brands to know is that they need to limit the wild goose chases like if they haven’t actually figured out what the dollar spend is for extra activations or to different paths, they need to actually know what their budget range is versus sending their agencies out to go and dig in and find and unearth all these great opportunities that are then going to land on someone’s desk back at the brand and go to literally die because the brand’s like, “I don’t really have any money to do any of these things.”
Dave Rohrer: 29:10
- Yeah, wild goose chases or like I said earlier just that we have this great idea. It’s like okay, in this prioritization of all these deliverables to realistically hit these goals and to hit these milestones that you’ve set out in our kickoff meeting, they’ll move because of this wild goose chase. They’ll be like, “That’s okay. Now, we’ll keep going,” but they’ll want you to keep going after the wild goose chase and then come back to you a week later like I know you’re probably nodding your head too, it’s yeah.
Dave Rohrer: 29:40
- It’s not going to work. We just talked to legal. We can’t do it now. It’s like we just spent a week and a half to get into this. We’ll just go back but everything is pushed back a week and a half or two weeks now. What do you mean? That everything is still on time, right? No. We diverted all of the resources and energy of the last two weeks. We were going to hit that milestone but now we pushed it back to two weeks.
Stacy Jones: 30:08
Dave Rohrer: 30:09
- That’s communication I think just plain and simple in understanding there’s give and take. Agencies to a certain point can try to make things up or do multiple things but depending on the scope and the contract, and are you their biggest client, are you the smallest client? They might have a little bit of wiggle room. Are you working across … If it’s a larger agency, are you working with a multiple groups from that agency?
Dave Rohrer: 30:34
- If they’re full service, are you using every service? Then maybe you can pull in takes from different services perhaps within multiple contracts. If you’re just working with a single agency on one single line or one single thing, there is no other wiggle room, there’s nothing you can pull from other than another SOW which no one wants to do because then you have to go through multiple things.
Stacy Jones: 30:58
- Right and go back to the whole contracting in which always takes time and [crosstalk 00:31:03] out.
Dave Rohrer: 31:04
- Or even an additional just you know on top of this we’re just going to add another statement of work just for the next three months and like okay but some companies I’ve seen take a year to get that approved.
Stacy Jones: 31:14
Dave Rohrer: 31:15
- Sometimes I watched one for two years like just the process to pick an agency, took them almost two years. Six months of it was getting the contract signed.
Stacy Jones: 31:24
Dave Rohrer: 31:25
- They were without an agency I think for about a year.
Stacy Jones: 31:28
- It’s amazing how long legal teams can actually take or review contracts.
Dave Rohrer: 31:33
- Then they wanted to launch a brand new site in less than six weeks that they haven’t finished even building.
Stacy Jones: 31:39
- Yes, of course.
Dave Rohrer: 31:41
Stacy Jones: 31:42
- I have experienced all of these things. There’s also the demoralization. You send your agency down all these paths and you’re expecting them to keep up with the other works, you’re going down these new ideas and then nothing moves forward and you end up with a team who isn’t chomping at the bit at being your savior or leading the charge and being as gung-ho after multiple times of the “Full charge ahead. Wait, wait. Stop. Full charge ahead, wait, wait, stop.”
Dave Rohrer: 32:14
- Yeah and as an agency, our job is to make you and your boss look good so that we’ll either keep your business or we can grow it. As an agency person or even a consultant for me, that’s my goal is what are the goals, let’s hit them and exceed them. What are your boss’s goals? Let’s hit them and exceed them. With whatever budget we have, let’s try to overdo and hit any achievements and then some.
Dave Rohrer: 32:40
- As an in-house person, the agency’s job is to make my life easier and they’ll try to take something off my plate. When all works well, it works nicely but going back to the communication, that kickoff meeting, having the resources to implement things that your agency is suggesting or that a campaign calls for, I know we talked about it a little bit before but if you’re asking your agency to do X, Y, Z, make sure when you talk to them initially or you get that contract that it includes all of the creative, all of the content.
Dave Rohrer: 33:15
- If you own the CMS and the different technology stacks, is your IT team going to be able to keep up? Or you need to change or divert some of your campaigns and goals and process or non-processes but how you’re going to approach and hit those goals.
Stacy Jones: 33:36
- Are there any asks that you get from brands that in general just make you shutter and one that just you merely say, “No way,” and run for the hills?
Dave Rohrer: 33:46
- I think when I’m asked to write a POV of some sort or to basically take what my main contact, take an e-mail or some document that my main contact has written and probably spend a year, sometimes even three years promoting and trying to push through the stakeholders and the blockades that there are but when it comes from an agency, it suddenly is this gospel that we must follow and this is what we’ve been looking for the last two years when literally and I’ve done this.
Dave Rohrer: 34:24
- I literally took my contact’s e-mail or document, added a little bit, change some words, added some updating and then send it from with our letterhead on it. Suddenly, it was this great thing. For me, that feels bad because when you hire someone internally as an expert on whatever, so often they are not their role but just I think whether it’s a man or woman, their role is, “You’re the expert but we don’t believe you.”
Stacy Jones: 34:59
Dave Rohrer: 35:00
- We’re going to hire this agency to tell us exactly what you just told us but now you don’t have any budget to do those other things because now we’re paying this agency to tell us exactly what you told us. I just feel it just makes it hard for that internal person I think sometimes, not always, to if they don’t have the trust of their stakeholders and bosses and other teams but they really know what they’re talking about, as an agency it becomes harder because then you have to spend more time convincing the other people that when they do and that’s who you do.
Dave Rohrer: 35:32
- Because, if they don’t trust their opinion and their judgment, and they help to pick this agency then maybe there’s a problem. Sometimes, it has to come from the agency, that third party, I don’t know why.
Stacy Jones: 35:47
- It’s interesting because yes, brands sometimes don’t trust the guts and then they need to actually have that third party expert’s stamp of approval on it to make them feel like they’re actually making the right decision when many times they already are. It’s interesting also we started relationships with brands and we’ve asked for some very basic information and understanding of who they think their brand is.
Stacy Jones: 36:17
- They comeback and basically having no idea and just wanting us to come up with who that brand is without any knowledge at all, and that’s not fair to the agency either.
Dave Rohrer: 36:28
- No and you can really do so much. I’m asked often. Most of my work is with CEO and PPC. They’re like, “What should we go after?” “I don’t know. What do your clients call your product?” “Where should we bid on?” I’m like, “I can do a lot of research in the third party tools and even dig into your own analytics and data but I also need your knowledge.” Then number of times, I go, “How many times have you … If you’re not the owner or sales person or customer service person, how often do you listen to those calls?”
Dave Rohrer: 37:02
- “What do you mean?” “What are your prospects in customers when they talk about your product or your business or anything, how do they reference you? What do they call you? What do they like or what do they complain about?” From that, I can get lots of ideas but if you don’t know, how am I supposed to know?
Stacy Jones: 37:22
- Right and then on the absolute opposite of that, if you do task your agency to come up with the ideas and help you figure out your brand positioning and who you are and they go down that path, you can’t all of suddenly jerk weeks and months in and want to change directions completely on a wimp.
Dave Rohrer: 37:40
- They will.
Stacy Jones: 37:41
Dave Rohrer: 37:45
- They will. The other side that I was working on a site migration and a year and a half into it, that I was only supposed to take a year they decided that I came down from the power that be that they were going to do a rebranding and that everything stopped, and some six months later they finally launched some MVP version of the site but it was a one year project that at year and a half in, had to stop everything and basically redo everything because all of their tag lines, all of their, what focus, everything changed.
Dave Rohrer: 38:22
- I don’t even know from my part of my project I’ve refinished because I was supposed to work for two or three months on it at the very beginning and literally a year in I’d spent 20 hours total helping them with their SEO because they were still a year in trying to figure out what the wireframes were going to look like for a site that I was supposed to launch eight months earlier.
Stacy Jones: 38:44
- Right. In a case like that, they’re actually harming sales and their own growth by taking such long winded approaches versus just going and then adapting, and going and then adapting. Some movement is better than no movement.
Dave Rohrer: 39:00
- Yeah. When it takes you as long to launch a new site as it takes for a major upgrade of that CMS, there’s a problem. When we started it, they were on one level of it. By the time they’ve launched, they are like, “We actually have to redo a lot of stuff because that is now an old version of the CMS,” and we’ve had to move it onto this brand new, has a lot of different things going on type of CMS.
Stacy Jones: 39:28
Dave Rohrer: 39:28
- That’s how long it took for them to launch recently.
Stacy Jones: 39:31
Dave Rohrer: 39:31
- It probably happens more often than I wish it would but that’s how it works.
Stacy Jones: 39:37
- Where do you see brand and agency partnerships going in the future especially since they’re such a DIY focused now by so many brands and so many instances of trying to do everything in-house to a degree?
Dave Rohrer: 39:51
- I think it needs to be more of a partnership and relationship. I think things will be more specialized than they have been. I don’t know if it will be … Now for some larger brands, it still makes sense to go and find that one agency that can do everything almost or at least almost everything. Maybe not best in class everything but at least the very specific things they really want them to be they might be best in class. I think it’ll move more to smaller and midsize agencies that are very focused on one thing and very good at one thing.
Dave Rohrer: 40:28
- It’ll just be more of wrangling multiple smaller agencies but that do very specific things. It will be campaign or product line based. I know sometimes it is for depending on where people work that are listening but I think even the larger companies and a lot of people I know are consultants, they’ve left other agencies. They’re very specific in what they know and do. If you have a very specific digital marketing problem, they are the person you go to.
Dave Rohrer: 40:56
- Then they know every which way it could go and break. That’s what they focus on. Because so many people now are building these large teams, that can “do everything” but you only know what’s happening in your little echo chamber whether it’s e-mail, social for certain industries and things. I think not all but I think some people will move more towards very specific specialties I know that they hire.
Stacy Jones: 41:27
- Then I think beyond that, I think brands are going to need to start staffing a different type of personnel actually at the brand site to be a project manager to oversee all of these agencies and to be that hub and that central force that unites everyone. We started talking about that at the beginning of this podcast where a lot of times, agencies are missing out on updates or not sharing things. Some brands expect the agencies just to share away.
Stacy Jones: 41:57
- Agencies aren’t always so great about working with other agencies unfortunately so you need that point person who is able to really I would say hurt cats to a degree.
Dave Rohrer: 42:12
- Yes, yes. I think the one thing … I really didn’t realize long ago that her job was a project manager but that’s really what she was. She oversaw large projects but the way it worked is she was a stakeholder to me, so I never nosed it. The one thing I missed in a lot of my other in-house positions was some project manager that would oversee these really large projects. Sometimes, I became it or it was a committee. That didn’t always work because I was so busy doing work that you either busy doing work or trying to communicate and I can’t see every piece that’s moving.
Dave Rohrer: 42:52
- One of the best things I ever did was work with some really awesome project managers when I worked at a larger agency. My God, I love them every day. Every so often now, I will hit them up on Facebook or Instagram or text them if I am down in the city and I just ping them and go, “I miss you,” because they’re so awesome. I think more internal teams should just do training or to a certain extent, hire a project manager.
Stacy Jones: 43:18
Dave Rohrer: 43:19
- Too like you said, just the communication and all of those moving parts especially at a larger company, I’ve seen it but I think the more midsized, even smaller companies really need someone that is a communications account manager or project manager person that sees the whole picture and isn’t in any of the widths. If anything is slowing down, it’s just their job to go, “Hey, so and so, you’re behind. Do you need resources? Do we need to sit down with all of these different people?” I think the more and more small to midsize companies really should be putting those on to their marketing teams.
Stacy Jones: 43:58
- Right. Knowing that they’re hiring multiple agencies, specialty niches but it’s a cost saving still overall by being able to have that person because otherwise, you’re having a lot of people’s spinning wheels.
Dave Rohrer: 44:14
- As an in-house team grows and you start getting siloed into your own either you’re working on specific products or brands or business lines, you’re in your own little thing, you might not know that another team is working with that same agency but maybe different people from that agency. There’s some sharing that can go on.
Stacy Jones: 44:36
Dave Rohrer: 44:37
- For some project managers that might know more things that are going on or someone just higher up, you would hope that they would be like, “Hey, there’s all moving parts but you guys actually are working on some of the exact same things, going after some of the same type of …” You’re both going after the same customers with different pitches. Then it makes your company look bad because someone’s getting an e-mail blast from brand C and also they’re getting very similar ones from brand D which is actually owned by the same company. The team sit 20 feet apart.
Stacy Jones: 45:10
- There’s not a lot of differentiation there.
Dave Rohrer: 45:12
Stacy Jones: 45:14
- Do you have any last bits of advice that you want to share with our listeners today on how to make these partnerships and these relationships even better?
Dave Rohrer: 45:23
- If you’re an in-house team, think like an agency. If you’re an agency, think like an in-house team. Try to have a little empathy for the other side and what they go for, go through. As agency people, we probably sit in a lot of internal meetings where we’re just like, “How do you guys ever get anything done?” because I’ve sat in on those. If you’re an in-house person and you want resources or you want to hire an agency to do something but your boss tells you there’s no budget, what I found to be awesome as a tool for winning that argument is use some tool to manage your time.
Dave Rohrer: 46:01
- There’s all free tools out there and even though you’re saying your office is towing you how many meetings you’re in, document and almost track all of your time for a week. I want to turn it in because I was running as SEO and I told them that I needed a third party to help me do link building and do X, Y, Z and help me with all these different things. My boss was like, “We don’t have budget.” I literally tracked myself for a week and then I gave it to him and I said, “Here’s how much time I spent on customer service. Here’s how much time I spent in meetings with IT. Here’s how much time I did X, Y, Z.”
Dave Rohrer: 46:33
- Here’s how much time I actually spent on SEO. Out of my 40 hours that week, I think I spent three or four. He was like, “That’s your job.” I go, “I know it is but I’m doing all these other things.” Two weeks later, I was getting to interview agencies to help me because it was like I can’t change any of this other stuff. I can’t give any of it to anyone else. Suddenly, two weeks later, he found me some budget.
Stacy Jones: 46:57
- Right. No, I think that is one of the most valuable tools that I try to do a couple of times actually where I take a week and it’s so dreadful even as an agency owner to do that. You ask your team to track their time, track the projects. As an owner, we don’t always do that so well. It’s really enlightening to see where things come up that you can either give away to give to other people or where you do need to hire on and find some more help.
Dave Rohrer: 47:22
Stacy Jones: 47:22
- I used to track my own internal time for my own promotion. I stopped and I probably should do that but I tracked my time for everything else. I just assumed that anything that I didn’t track is that way but it is really eye opening when you sit down and you realize you think you’re in a lot of meetings and sometimes you’re not but it just feels that way. Other times, you really are in like five different things that you aren’t even supposed to be doing that have nothing to do with your goals or your team’s goals.
Stacy Jones: 47:53
- That’s when you can also bring it up to your boss or your boss’s boss or other team members and say, “Hey. I’ve been helping you a lot with this project. I just realized that I’m not spending much time on my own. I have all these other things and I could be doing more,” from your own career, your team’s goals, I think it’ll help everyone.
Stacy Jones: 48:12
- Absolutely agree. Now, do you want to share more details about your podcast and a little bit more about your company and how people can actually find you and get in contact with you so they can do all things of working with you as agency for their brands?
Dave Rohrer: 48:27
- My agency is just me, myself, and I. It’s just me. I’m working on my work-life balance right now so I’m able to spend a little time with the kiddos. It’s northsidemetrics.com. I’m here in Chicago but I have clients right now, all over the US, I think one in Canada, of all different sizes. The podcast is the Business of Digital so it’s businessof.digital. The Twitter account is @bizofdigital. I have the same problem that you were talking about with yours, so we went B-I-Z-ofdigital.
Dave Rohrer: 49:07
- The podcast, we’re on number 80 or so. I forget where we’re at right now but we talk about small business or people starting out. We do talk about some Fortune 50 type larger issues but it’s all about anything digital marketing. We cover the gambit. Sometimes, we go really deep but sometimes it’s usually just a little bit high level. That’s 20 minutes and we cut right to the chase if you have a short drive or jumping on the treadmill, it’s our goal.
Stacy Jones: 49:39
- Awesome. Dave, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed listening to you thinking about things that we can change at our own agency and with brand relationships as well. I look forward to this, staying contact and continuing the conversation.
Dave Rohrer: 49:54
- Thank you for having me.
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