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Why agencies like to keep their clients dumb – It's nicer to work with smarter clients

You start to notice when certain water outlets in your house are being used, that there is a loud noise coming from the pipes in the walls. You call your plumber and tell him that you think there may be a geyser issue causing the strange sounds. He comes to investigate and begins working on your pipes outside with his assistant. You go outside a bit later to check how things are going, and before they notice you approaching them, you overhear the plumbers saying, “I can’t believe this guy thought it was a geyser issue, obviously it’s a pressure issue coming from the main water supply. How stupid can you get?” Naturally, you’re offended, you haven’t the faintest clue about plumbing, that’s why you called him!

This situation however, is how many agencies treat their clients on a daily basis. Like they are stupid. Of course, SEO is important for your website. It’s obvious mobile users need to be taken into consideration. Obviously, you need to keep customers up to date with mailers. What idiots! The fact of the matter, however, is that your clients shouldn’t know about these things. That’s why they came to you in the first place.

Most agencies don’t like to educate their clients, baffling them with techno Latin or jargon. Keeping your client ignorant makes them easy to manipulate. Once you can manipulate them, you can convince them to spend more money on things they don’t need. This is why most agencies like to keep their clients dumb. The thing is, though, with a dumb client, how could you ever expect to achieve great things with your agency? At the same time, agencies can’t be held entirely responsible for a lack of progress when you as the client don’t really know what you want or don’t commit yourself to the project. Strive to build a symbiotic relationship that allows both client and agency to become leaders in their respective industries.

It’s easy to shift the blame on to your clients when things aren’t going your way, and they haven’t let you take the wheel and direct their online reputation to magnificently profitable realms. Your clients will come with their own beliefs and scepticism. They come with budgets to adhere to and directors to please. They come with people who believe cell phones from the early 2000s worked better because their battery life was longer than today’s smartphones. Whilst your client’s preconceived misconceptions may not align with your understanding of the digital world, they do know one thing, they are there to make a profit. Develop and implement a strategy to obtain the best ROI possible and all parties will be smiling.

The trick here is to expect a bit of ignorance going into your first meeting with the client, without undermining anyone’s intelligence. Expect a lack of knowledge to a field you’re the professional in. Empathise with your client and understand that their task was to find someone like you. The next trick is to educate your client. Teach them what you think they should know in the simplest way possible. A good plumber will explain why the noises in the pipes had nothing to do with the geyser. A good agency will explain why responsive designs and good SEO is vital to your website. A good agency will explain why a testing period is a necessity before going live. The list is endless. The thing is, at the end of the day if your client doesn’t know what the objectives are and why you are doing what you are doing, you are setting yourself (and your client) up for failure from the start. The onus is on you to educate and guide them as a professional service provider.

Each time you meet with your client, you have a chance to teach them a little more, and by empowering them with understanding, you further prove just how valuable your knowledge is to them. Essentially you are showing them that you’re not just working with them because they are paying you for your services, you’re showing concern for them around topics they don’t understand all that well. By doing so, you will be able to achieve the company's goals, which essentially are now your goals too. Build a trusting relationship with your client through the demonstration of your expertise.

Now before it seems like all responsibility has been shifted to the agencies, there are a few things that a client should be doing too. The role of the agency is not as simple as you may think. Agencies need access to certain resources in order to help you as a client. Remember that this is a team effort, and if you want your team to do well, you need to help your agency understand your business like it’s their own. Remember the plumbing situation? You need to have some sort of an idea of what the issue may be, in order to receive assistance. Otherwise, it becomes an exhausting game of back and forth with no progress really being made.

For starters, you need a clear set of goals and objectives before you approach an agency. There is no use going to an agency and telling them that you want a website and you need to be on all social media platforms if you don’t have some idea of why you want to be there. What do you want to achieve with your website? Why do you want to be on every social media platform? If you don’t plan, you plan to fail.

If its leads you are looking for, then say so! If you want greater brand awareness, make it known! That gives a much clearer understanding into an objective than “I want a website”. Your agency should have a pretty clear idea of how to obtain those leads or generate awareness in the most relevant and cost-effective ways. It’s your responsibility, however, to help your agency understand what kind of lead you’re looking for, or who you’re trying to reach. You know your business better than they do, and understand the demographics of your clients a whole lot more. Remember that if your agency needs content and information from you, to give them as much of it as possible.

Firewater is passionate about educating our clients, because the more you know, the more we can do for you, together. Contact us to see how a partnership with us can take your business to new heights using measurable digital channels.