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The number of enterprises in the marketing agency industry in the United States increased by 12.0% annually between 2017 and 2022. How can your agency stand apart from a growing number of competitors? Through partnerships. Partnerships with other agencies and brands, and partnerships with your clients themselves.

Your clients are tired of traditional client-agency relationships that often feel transactional and one-sided. Do you want to learn how to foster a more collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership with your agency clients? A relationship where the client is more invested, drives more revenue, and is less likely to churn?

That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.

Welcome back to Partnership Unpacked, where I selfishly use this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, and relationship building… oh, and you get to learn too! Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy – with a solid takeaway every episode from partnership experts in the industry.

Now, when it comes to partnerships, there are a lot of different kinds and flavors, as evidenced by all the different topics we cover on this show. There are partnerships with influencers and affiliates, integrations with technology partners, co-marketing initiatives with brand partners, mergers and acquisitions, and of course today’s topic, client partnerships.

And yet, often when I what from brands who want to partner with me, that’s really just a euphemism for sell to me. Should you really talk to your prospects and clients about partnering with them? What should that look like?

That’s what Dale Wilson is here to help us with.

Dale is an online marketing professional combining leadership, analytical, and organizational skills for the performance marketing agency adQuadrant, focused on guiding the agency and its partners toward mutual benefits.

Partnership Unpacked host Mike Allton talked to Dale about:

♉️How partnerships are employed to empower and grow their clients.

♉️Examples of successful agency partnerships.

♉️How partnership ROI is determined and measured.

Learn more about Umair Mansha

Resources & Brands mentioned in this episode

Full Notes & Transcript:

(Lightly edited)

How To Approach Agency Clients As Partnerships for Greater ROI with Dale Wilson

[00:00:00] Mike Allton: The number of enterprises in the marketing agency industry in the United States increased by 12% annually between 2017 and 2022. How can your agency stand apart from this growing number of competitors? Through partnerships, partnerships with other agencies and brands and partnerships with your clients themselves?

Your clients are tired of traditional client agency relationships that often feel transactional and one sided. Do you wanna learn how to foster a more collaborative and mutually beneficial partnership with your agency clients? A relationship where the client is more invested, drives more revenue and less likely to churn.

That’s what we’re covering in today’s episode of Partnership Unpacked.

This is Partnership unpacked your Go-to Guide to Growing Your Business through partnerships quickly. I’m your host, Mike Alton, that each episode unpacks the winning strategies and latest trends from influencer marketing to brand partnerships and ideas that you can apply your own this as to grow.

Exponentially. And now the rest of today’s episode, well welcome back to Partnership on Pact y. Selfishly use this time to pick the brains of experts at strategic partnerships, channel programs, affiliates, influencer marketing, relationship building. Oh, and you get to learn, too. Subscribe to learn how you can amplify your growth strategy with a solid takeaway.

Every episode from partnership experts in the industry. I’m Mike Alton, and I’m here in the home office in St. Louis. And now, when it comes to partnerships, there are a lot of different kinds and flavors as evidenced by all the different topics we cover on this show. There are partnerships with influencers and affiliates, integrations with technology partners, co-marketing initiatives with brand partners, mergers and acquisitions, and of course today’s topic, client partnerships.

And yet, When I often hear from brands who want to partner with me, that’s really just a euphemism for sell to me. Should you really talk to your prospects and clients about partnering with them? What should that look like? Well, that’s what Dale Wilson is here. To help us with Dale’s an online marketing professional, combining leadership, analytical and organizational skills for the performance marketing agency at Quadrant, focused on guiding the agency and its partners toward mutual benefits.

Hey Dale, welcome to the show.

[00:02:34] Dale Wilson: Hey, Mike. Love that intro. Thank you. [00:02:36] Mike Allton: Yeah. Yeah. Great to have you. And let’s kind of just set the stage please and just tell us, tell us about Ad Quadrant and what is your role exactly there? [00:02:43] Dale Wilson: Sure. Yeah. So 20 years myself in the industry with four years at Ad Quadrant. This is technically a second career for me.

I would say that Ad Quadrant is, I think in my experience, a relatively unique agency I’ve spent a fair amount of time at, at various agencies, at platforms, things like that. And to go back to something you just said, You know, I feel like a lot of agencies often kind of sell the idea that they’re going to, you know, be an extension of the marketing team at, at the brand or with the client, but I don’t know that it’s always been accomplished.

And I think ag does, in my experience, a phenomenal job at, at accomplishing that.

[00:03:17] Mike Allton: So let’s talk about that. Let’s pull that other part a little bit because I wanna know the exact kinds of challenges that your clients and your partners are facing and, and how those are actually solved through partnership. [00:03:28] Dale Wilson: Sure. Yeah. So as an agency, you know, we’ve essentially got four. Let’s call it five key components to what we do. We very much start with strategy. We very much focus on, you know, what was the short-term goal, what is the long-term goal? Where’s the client been, what are they trying to accomplish, you know, not just in 2023, but in 2024, and are they doing now what they need to do in order to accomplish those goals in in 24?

So very much thinking along the lines of strategy as being our first offering to the client. The second one is really, You know, in many ways kind of where Ad Quadrant started with kind of classic media buying. You know, we’re very much agnostic to platforms. We’ve got an incredible marketing team that can handle, or I should say media buying team that really can handle anything from, you know, Pinterest to TikTok, to Google, you name it.

We’re very much capable of doing it. And then, you know, our third offering is really around creative, really being able to, You know, handle the initial ideation of a creative to, you know, execution of the basics in terms of production, editing, et cetera. And then also ideally, you know, taking it beyond just the basic creation of the creative, but also looking at how’s it performing, what’s the best version, et cetera.

And then our last kind of core offering is really around, Data and understanding if you’re collecting data from a platform, how are you relocating it on platforms B, C, and D, et cetera. And I would even say the fifth offering we have is partnerships, is really being able to, you know, look at the ecosystem and, and understand what are the big challenges in marketing in, you know, for example, the uncertainty of 2023.

And, and how do we find the right partners to help our clients be as productive and hit those goals that they’re really trying to accomplish. So, As you can imagine with all those offerings, you know, we definitely need a very strong, very involved integrated partnership program that really takes the goals of the client in mind first, and really strategizes and builds the necessary tools and accomplishes the necessary milestones to really hit those long-term goals.

[00:05:27] Mike Allton: I love that approach cuz what we’re talking about is not just providing them a service that they just, you know, they filled out a form and they purchased it and they asked for it. Yeah. Right. It’s sitting down with them and, and communicating. Yeah. You know, and odd thing to do. But yeah, we’re gonna actually have a conversation and talk through what their real goals are.

Yeah. I get the impression that there’s consulting basically that goes into that right. Where absolutely we’re probably helping them understand sometimes maybe they have the wrong goals.

[00:05:55] Dale Wilson: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah, it’s a great point because, you know, certainly Ag Quadrant looks at our clients a little bit differently than I think most agencies.

I mean, to be frank, we say no to clients. It’s sometimes we’re not the right agency, and we’re okay with that, right? We’re comfortable with telling, uh, prospects that we’re just not gonna be the right. Fit for them for one reason or another. And the other thing is that we look for, in the right client fit, we look for a very specific type of client, and that is someone who’s, what we call a challenger brand.

Someone who’s going to look at, I love talking about the uncertainty of 2023 because a challenger brand will look at that and say, You know, I don’t really know what is gonna happen, but that’s okay. That’s just another headwind. And what I’m looking for in an agency is, uh, thought leadership, a plan, a strategy to be prepared and nimble for that uncertainty of 2023.

And so I think we do an amazing job at taking in all those considerations and really building them, to your point, a long-term integrated strategy based on those goals and really looking at. Not feeling uncomfortable with uncertainty.

[00:07:00] Mike Allton: Love that. So you’re talking about how you approach new partners in essence, and tell me more about that.

How do you identify and approach, you know, these clients from that partnership perspective?

[00:07:12] Dale Wilson: Yeah, it certainly with clients, it’s gonna be about making sure that there’s a common. Energy, making sure that there’s a common consideration for goals, right? Ag Quadrant has its own lofty goals, right? And we have an amazing set of founders who really look to, you know, accomplish their own goals, but making sure that each of us individually can accomplish that as well.

And I would say that we seek that in clients as well. We seek clients that, you know, are respectful of our own goals, but also respectful of knowing that it has to be a partnership. It has to be us working together. To accomplish the communal goals and you know, really looking at, again, it’s really about setting up expectations.

It’s really about setting up an understanding of the plan and making sure that as we are executing against that plan, because there’s uncertainties in the world, we might need to pivot and that’s okay.

[00:08:01] Mike Allton: I just wanna underline how much you’re talking about mutual goals. Yeah. Because as a partnership professional, this is a core tenant.

Yeah. Of any successful partnership. There has to be mutual gain for both parties and it can’t just be a transactional I’m paying you. That’s not, yeah. Partnership transactions aren’t partnerships. There has to be a mutual understanding of the goals and mutual agreement that we’re moving in the same direction.

To achieve those goals, and I’m gonna ask you to share some details in a minute cuz some of you watching and listening might need a little more context to understand what we’re talking about. Before I do, I want to have you unpack for a second how you actually measure the ROI from these kinds of partnerships.

Cuz like you said, this is a different tact than many other agencies. Take. Yeah. We work with thousands of agencies at a Agora, Paul’s, and most of them, and there’s something wrong with this, but most of them are transactional. They mm-hmm. Have a suite of services that they offer their clients and that’s what they do.

Mm-hmm. And the ROI there is obvious. They spent a certain amount of hours marketing, selling, and then providing US services. And they got this revenue in exchange and. Boom. Simple math. How are you doing it differently?

[00:09:11] Dale Wilson: Yeah. I’m gonna talk a little bit about kind of how we not just think about partnerships with clients, but this expands into partnerships with other agencies, SaaS partners, tech partners, whatever the case may be.

For us, it’s really about ensuring. That again, it’s a little bit of energy, right? To be a little bit, you know, vague about it, but also from a details perspective, making sure that it’s not strictly just, uh, to your point about a, a transaction. It’s not strictly just about the quote unquote revenue. It’s also looking at, you know, is this going to help our team L team learn something?

Is this going to be a situation where our team is going to be better at what they do? After they’ve started the work, after they’ve done some of the work, that’s also a really important consideration for us. Are we going to be a better agency that is going to provide better services to all of the future clients that we engage with?

That’s absolutely something that’ll be taken into consideration. Are we gonna grow? Are we going to be able to grow with the brands that we work with? Those all really, really important things to us because that ultimately keeps our team engaged, right? When our team sees their own personal growth, they just, you know, take it a little bit personal and that’s a good thing.

[00:10:15] Mike Allton: I love that qualitative approach. I’ve got a similar approach to the summits that I run every single quarter. Mm-hmm. Some of the partners and the speakers that we bring on, they’re there because they have a tremendous audience that they’re bringing. But some of them, I just know the content. Yeah.

Delivering is going to be amazing. So we’re talking about roi. We’re talking with Dale from Ed Quadrant. Let’s hear from the CMO of a Agora on another channel that you may be missing an opportunity to measure roi.

It’s the Arc de Triumph. Can you imagine if you’re in charge, if you’re the C M O? Of marketing Paris, what are your main channels?

Wow, there’s. The arc of Triumph. There’s the Eiffel Tower, there’s the Louv. Those are your channels you’re gonna use to drive tourism dollars in. Okay, now, but you’re not the CMO of Paris. In fact, you’re the CMO of your company product service. So what are your main channels? So I’m gonna guess there are things like pay per click, maybe trade shows, events.

Maybe content. Those are all pretty predictable, right? Let me ask you this question. Are you treating social media as a main channel? By the way, only 1.8% of you today measure social media and can prove an ROI in that investment. HubSpot and Gartner say, social media is the number one channel to invest in this year.

Are you doing it? If not, I can tell you why you’re not doing it, because you don’t have the tools, you don’t have the mentality, and that’s okay. We’ve got you covered. You changed the mentality. We’ll give you the tool. We Pulse tracks all the ROI for you. One place to manage all your social media activity, your number one channel, change your success.

Treat social media as a channel one CMO to another. My name is Darryl. I’m with Agorapulse. I’ll talk to you soon.

All right. Now, Dale, you shared some high level perspectives of how you approach clients and partnerships. Could you share with us some specific examples of some of the partnerships that you’ve led? You know, why were they successful? Maybe some of the challenges that you had to overcome through those partnerships?

[00:12:14] Dale Wilson: Yeah, excellent question for me personally. You know, obviously there’s been some amazing client engagements, but I would say that over the last, let’s call it year, I’ve had some really, really good partnerships with some tech partners. You know, folks like, you know, an easy one is Clavio gorgeous, a triple whale, even a, you know, on the smaller end, a company named where, what I think is super amazing about those kinds of partnerships, those kinds of engagements, is they respect.

And understand, first of all, that agencies don’t function like other tech partners. They don’t function like SaaS partners, et cetera, SaaS tools. They really function a little bit differently, and then even within that ad quadrant is not, is not your average agency. And so, You know, when they’re able to understand that and kind of more, it allows for us to more deeply engage and have a better partnership because it, the expectations become appropriate and we can really own that long term.

We can really engage with that, that kind of deeper conversation, that that really makes a more fulfilled engagement for both sides.

[00:13:19] Mike Allton: Cool. So for the agency owners that are gonna be listening to this and they’re thinking, okay, I should develop more. Partnerships with my own clients. What recommendations would you share for them when they’re trying to foster these kinds of partnerships? [00:13:32] Dale Wilson: Yeah, excellent question. Um, you know, the first thing is that, you know, look, AG Quadrant can’t be everything to everybody, right? So we have to understand. That there are going to be folks out there that are gonna have perspectives and opinions that are gonna be different, that are gonna help us. Quadrant has this amazing phrase, we like to think about it as looking around corners for our clients, right?

Looking at what are some of the considerations that maybe aren’t the most important today, but they’re going to be really important later. An example of that was when, you know, the Apple Facebook situation with iOS 14 happened. You know, we’ve been in conversations with, with Facebook and. Google for probably six months prior to that.

Really, you know, using those partnerships and using that engagement to understand what was going to happen and how do we prepare our clients for that? How do we ensure that we are minimizing any sort of downtime or negative impact that they were gonna see from that? And ultimately it, it led to some really incredible success for us.

So just being open and aware that there’s going to be things that aren’t the day-to-day that are going to be changes evolutions in our industry. And just being aware that. You know, they’re going to have a perspective that you might need to take into consideration that you just didn’t know was gonna be an issue.

[00:14:44] Mike Allton: I love that approach and that example of the iOS changes is a great one cuz you’re right. Yeah. So many agencies were, I dunno, caught flatfooted, I guess would be a way to put it. Yeah. Where they, they weren’t really making adjustments, they weren’t having conversations with their clients. Yeah. So clients who aren’t paying any attention to industry news like that.

Yeah. That’s what. They paid the agency for. Yep. Were completely caught off guard and all of a sudden, you know, their ad results were tanking and, yep. There was nothing they could do about it. What would you tell someone in your shoes not to do?

[00:15:15] Dale Wilson: Hmm. Not to do. I tend to be the guy that lives in the, on the positive side, so I would maybe, I’m gonna maybe turn that around a little bit, but just always have a plan, you know, always have a goal in mind when you get on that first call with your.

Prospective client, prospective partner. You know, first of all, just do a little bit of pre-call, right? Do a little bit of preparation, but you know, be prepared to be open and understanding to what they’re trying to accomplish. And you know, I always think of like best practices as table stakes. So if there’s something more than best practices that they’re gonna be able to.

Bring to the conversation, enhance your understanding of the environment of the ecosystem. Just be open to it. Be ready for it in terms of what not to do. You know, don’t get stuck in your old ways, right? Again, I’m a big fan of really thinking of best practices as being the basics. So be imaginative, right?

Imagine. What are some of the ways that you can take what you know and really enhance your client’s experience, accomplish those goals, and also just keep your client goals in mind at all times, right? It’s often something that, you know, certainly as someone who’s been at several different agencies, it’s often something we forget, right?

We get caught up in our own goals and, you know, sometimes their personal goals or, you know, company goals and agency goals, and they’re not necessarily thinking about the client and really focusing on the client is just, it’s the apex for us here at Quadrant.

[00:16:29] Mike Allton: And I love the underlying theme here, which is that you have to have communication.

Oh yeah. With the client. You have to talk to them, and you have to truly understand your goals, which takes time. Yeah. Which takes some amount of skill in drawing that out because sometimes they’re not gonna tell you upfront what their actual goals. Yeah. My good friends, she runs an agency and ad agency, and she was telling me this story about how she was working with a client and.

She was running ad campaigns and she’s trying to do what she thinks is in the client’s best interest, which is to drive traffic and conversions. And the client kept coming back to her saying, no, no, no. We want likes, we want reactions, we want followers. That’s vanity metrics. Yeah, no, we’re not gonna go after that stuff.

We want to go with real business driving results. Come to find out. Later. Yeah, they were trying to sell the business and they make it look Oh wow. As good on social as they could. So yeah, that was their goal. Yeah, but they didn’t share that. Yeah, she didn’t know that. So there was miscommunication there.

[00:17:32] Dale Wilson: Amazing. Amazing. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it’s amazing that you say that because we’re very much focused right now on thinking about lifetime value, right? And thinking about, you know, what’s going to be the right audience to engage with the right ads, the right time, and the right place, and all of those things that are important.

But at the same time though, also understanding like what really truly drives lifetime value, and in some ways, You know, some clients might actually have an ecosystem established where, you know, to your point, alike might actually drive the right kind of audience that’s ultimately going to drive the right kinds of transactions.

That’s ultimately going to drive the best lifetime value for them. So yeah, just have those conversations, right, and don’t be afraid to be told that you know, what you think is the right goal, might not be the right goal, and that there might be something more out there. Yeah. That’s a great, that’s a great story.

[00:18:21] Mike Allton: What a great story. Now my last question for you is my favorite question. I asked this of all my guests and I don’t know how anyone’s gonna respond, but for, you know, fans of the show, you know, I’m, this is the question I’m gonna ask and everybody ends up coming along the same line, but how important have relationships been to your career, Dale? [00:18:38] Dale Wilson: Oh man. Literally everything personally and professionally, you know, relationships, partnerships, it’s everything. Super good examples. Probably seven years ago-ish. Worked at another agency. I was there for almost four years. Built some amazing relationships with a lot of folks that I worked with.

Eventually left that job when I got laid off a couple years later. Immediately knew that, you know, one of the people that I worked with was already at a different agency herself, immediately reached out to her and cause we had a good relationship cause we had a good partnership in terms of business.

You know, she brought me on at that agency. We now work, uh, together again, but at even a third agency, right? So I think that’s a phenomenal example. Another good example is, A friend of mine, you know, she was in an agency, actually the same agency that I was talking about earlier. You know, she left to go to Google eventually.

She was part of the massive layoff that happened a couple weeks ago, a couple months ago, and now she and I are working together to figure out what her next goal is, right? What’s her next big movement in life? Is it agency life? Is it working at Ag Quadrant? Is it something different? You know, so the thing that’s a really good example of, of partnerships and working together, getting to know each other, getting to understand each other’s goals, and how we can accomplish ’em together.

And I think that’s, you know, my perspective and my approach to that with individuals has now led me to partnerships here at Ad Quadrant and really being able to, you know, understand what is ad quadrant’s goals, what makes us unique, and how do I talk about that, right? How do I go into the ecosystem and say, you know, ad Quadrant is different, and that’s okay.

And we’re really good at what we do. Yeah, partnerships is amazing.

[00:20:04] Mike Allton: So love that perspective. Thank you so much for sharing that. Like I said, it’s a question I ask every single guest and every single guest. Their answers vary, but it always boils down to how important relationships truly are. Cause you never know what resources you’re going to want or need, or potentially be for others.

Yes. In the future. So, yes. Thank you for sharing that, Dale. This has been fantastic. I love your insights. I love your approach to working with clients and stepping alongside them. Tell folks where they can go to learn more about you and Ad Quadrant.

[00:20:34] Dale Wilson: Sure, yeah. Go to ad quadrant.com. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn.

I would say also, feel free to email me at [email protected]. Yeah, Mike, this has been a lot of fun. Thank you.

[00:20:45] Mike Allton: My pleasure and thank you all for watching, for listening. We’ll have all the links and Dale’s information in the show notes when the podcast comes out in a little bit. Until next time, thank you very much.

Thank you for listening to another episode of Partnership Unpacked, hosted by Mike Alton, empowered by a Agora Pulse, the number one rated social media management solution, which you can learn more [email protected]. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe on your favorite podcast player. Be sure to leave us a review.

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