If you’ve worked with a marketing agency before, then there’s a phenomenon you may be familiar with.
In the first couple months, there’s a whole lot of excitement. Everyone’s feeling great. Your new marketing agency is providing a bunch of helpful research, improving your branding, arming you with a comprehensive marketing plan and creating a sense of momentum for your company.
Once the plan is in place, it’s time to build. Your agency delivers a brand-new website with new copy, new images and new videos. Everything is looking amazing, and then eventually, one day, you’re ready to go out into the market and launch your plan!
You might think this third phase of the work would be the really exciting part, but you’re finding that much of the work is now happening behind the scenes. Suddenly, the big, flashy deliverables aren’t hitting your inbox on a regular basis. Your phones aren’t ringing yet. The excitement starts to subside. A subtle malaise — at first, almost undetectable — grows into weariness.
This Isn’t Unusual
If you’ve been in this situation before, you’re not alone. Some form of the post-launch slump is likely to occur. It’s simply the nature of the work.
Once you shift from the build phase into activation, you go from the high of getting a bunch of cool new stuff to a different phase where much of your agency’s time is spent on less sexy work like optimizing content, split testing different subject lines, tweaking the triggers and timing of your automated marketing campaigns and analyzing data.
If you’re a smaller company new to marketing, it’s going to take some time before all that hard, behind-the-scenes work starts really translating into a big jump in leads and sales. But in the meantime, the clock is ticking, and those monthly agency payments keep going out the door.
Minimizing the Slump
There’s a big difference between a brief slump everyone recovers from and a free fall into despair that erodes the client-agency relationship for good. The longer the weariness goes unchecked, the harder it’ll be to get back on track.
Fortunately, there are some good ways to avoid this situation. Much of this relies heavily on the agency, but it can be helpful to know what to expect and ask for going into the partnership.
Commit to regular communication. It sounds obvious, but regular, scheduled communication is critical — especially in this phase. Put the standing weekly meeting on the calendar and commit to making it every time. These conversations not only help keep everyone on track with projects and deadlines, they’ll keep you up-to-date on all of the important back-end work that is happening and how it’s moving you toward your goals — which is always energizing.
Stay engaged. Hiring a marketing agency isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it arrangement. Your agency will do a lot of the heavy lifting, but sometimes you’ll need to carry the ball over the one-yard line. In our experience, the best results (and smallest slumps) happen when there’s more collaboration and attention from both sides.
Celebrate small wins. If you’re committing to regular communication and staying engaged, you’re also more likely to celebrate the small wins — those incremental improvements that add up to bigger wins. Taking a moment to recognize these wins highlights positive movement and leads to more engagement and energy all around.
Think big picture. Just because you’re celebrating small wins doesn’t mean you should take your eye off the big picture. When you set your goals and framework for ROI with your agency, you hopefully built in considerations that some tactics take time to produce results — and others may help build brand awareness but aren’t intended to be direct lead generators. Thinking long term will help ensure you don’t lose patience prematurely.
If you’ve recently started working with a marketing agency or are considering doing so soon, refer back to these tips to keep your slump from becoming an avalanche. It takes work and effort on all sides to keep the momentum once the first burst of enthusiasm starts to wear off, but you’ll find it easy to stay energized once the work translates into consistent wins for your business.
Charlie is the Chief Strategy Officer at Simple Machines Marketing. When he's not doing the marketing, he likes playing guitar, hanging with his family in Chicago and lots of other stuff too but this seems like a good amount for a blog bio.