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The Clientside Podcast

Agency Relationships with Ollie Whitfield

The Clientside Podcast

39 min Ollie Whitfield

Pool player and footballer on the weekends, marketer and content fanatic in the week. Ollie Whitfield is plying his trade as a product marketer for B2B SaaS companies, VanillaSoft & Autoklose, 2 leading Sales Engagement platforms.

In this episode, Andrew Armitage talks about researching and approaching agencies, the pitch process from a client perspective, what you can do to really help build a relationship with an agency.

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Andrew:
So welcome everybody, to today's episode of the Clientside podcast, this is Episode 27, and I'm your host Andrew Armitage. I hope you doing OK today, we're into our third episode of this third season. And today we're going to be talking about researching and approaching agencies. We're going to talk about the pitch process from a client perspective, what you can do to really help build a relationship with an agency. But before we get into all of that good stuff, I'm back into a shameless plug for my new book, which is out now on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle Holistic Website Planning is you're going to all the things you need to consider when planning a new website so you end up with a site that has longevity, is sustainable to manage and smashes the boom and bust cycle refreshing your website every few years because it's not fit for purpose. We need to be thinking more carefully about how we build websites and what they need to do as it's all too easy to throw away the digital content we create, or leave it on a server somewhere gathering dust, but it still uses up energy and resources. So we'll put a link into the book in the show notes where you can also find transcript for today's show and of course, all the previous episodes of the Clientside podcast.

Andrew:
So let's move on to today's guest. And I'm joined by Ollie Whitfield, who has spent 8 years in marketing agencies as a project manager, learning lots of lessons along the way. Pool player and footballer or on the weekends. Marketer and content fanatic in the week, Ollie now applies his trade as a product marketer for B2B SaaS companies Vanilla Soft and Auto Close, two of the leading sales engagement platforms. So welcome to the show, Ollie, and thank you for joining me today.

Ollie:
Well. I've got to say thanks very much for having me on, but also massive props for all of the pronunciation. Number one, my name. You would be surprised how often that's a stumbling block. I've been Whitefield way too many times and Auto Close and Vanilla Soft you'd be surprised how many go wrong with Auto Close. Very happy to be here, thanks for having me on.

Andrew:
Great no, thank you. So let's kick off with a bit of background. You've obviously got eight years experience in marketing agencies, but tell me a bit about how you got into marketing, what that agency experience looked like and what your role involves now with the SaaS companies that we mentioned.

Ollie:
I think this is one of those not buzzwords bingos is kind of a cliche thing is, I'm going to say the famous words. I didn't get into marketing the orthodox way. And I think that's said pretty much all the time. But I can remember very clearly, I was in the last year of my school years, I could have stayed on another year because I was the first year of school where you had to stay in education until the year of 18 years of age. I was gutted. I'd done all my qualifications. I felt like I was going to pass everything that I was taking and I didn't know what I wanted to do after that. Couple months left of the school year, a bit of nervousness sets in. I remember it very clearly. I sat in a media lesson where we were literally watching a film. That was what it was. And I got an email from the careers office and they sent around sort of a newsletter saying here are some local college openings or apprenticeships, that type of thing. So I looked at it and there was one. The top one was social media apprentice. So I thought, well, I know Facebook. I could probably do that. Let's have a look. So I applied for it. And on the day of my driving theory test, which I had failed two times previous, I also had that interview for that job. So I went straight from failing the theory test, which I was devastated about in to an interview, my first ever one. I remember getting out of my mum's car and I thought, this is not going to go wrong. I can't have this day go totally wrong. I've got to get one out of two. And luckily I got it. So I was an apprentice. I made all the coffee. I made the tea, like you do. I even swept floors a couple of times. But from that, I just remember how phenomenal that job was for learning. And in any other company, you had no right to do half the stuff that I got to see and do or at least hear about and see. It's just phenomenal for, my first task was editing YouTube videos. I mean, I knew nothing about it and for some reason I got given that and now I know how to do it, but I would not if I wasn't there. So that was just an amazing start.

Andrew:
Very much thrown in at the deep end. Then, by the sounds of it.

Ollie:
Yeah, a little bit in the deep end. In actual fact, I remember specifically the first interview that I edited and I interviewed that same guy two weeks ago, which is quite cool. Eight years down the line, he was talking about how to be a great creative marketer, which is quite funny now, sort of my realm. I spent a couple of years in that company and sort of learnt the ropes. Did the trips to London, work with our clients, did some of their first webinars, we made ebooks and this was just before Brexit and made a couple of my mistakes around that time, learnt a couple of them, did a couple of them again, and then jump to a bigger agency and sort of repeated the process, but at a slightly bigger scale. We had some slightly bigger clients on the East Coast of America. For quite a while I've done American timezones a bit more than English. Forgive me if you hear me say stuff like trash or semi or garage. I've sort of picked up on the lingo a little bit, but that's been the story so far.

Andrew:
Ok, great stuff. And let's just touch on those those B2B SaaS companies. Vanilla Soft and Autoclose. Tell us a little bit about what those do and what that apps all about.

Ollie:
Yeah. So I started for those two companies in October, literally the day of Vanilla Soft, the parent company acquiring Autoclose the side of the house I see a lot more now. So that was exciting. I'd never seen an acquisition before and they won. Here we are. Let's see how this goes. So you could say I'm wearer of many hats, kind of like what many agency folks are. I run our podcast and all sorts, I'm building a partner program. Both of those companies, you could say are sales engagement platforms. And I know that it's necessary to have a label. I find some of them kind of confusing. But what that really means in layman's terms is that if you're a salesperson, you sat your desk, how are you going to go and reach out to enough people to hit your target or to grow the company? Aside from just sitting in Gmail and type email, send, email, repeat, repeat, we need to call someone, get your phone out, type in a number, that type of thing. It takes way too long. So it's always like that enabled us to go.

Andrew:
That still happens, doesn't it? Or at least it should do. It's easy to forget I think sometimes isn't it.

Ollie:
Oh yeah. Yeah, very. Especially when in this type of line of work where basically the CEO is the salesperson for a large part of it, it's very easy to forget that even most of our clients have sales reps whose only job is to do that. Those are the types of tools that will help them.

Ollie:
Sounds good. So let's let's go back to your agency experience, because that's really what we wanted to to have a chat about today. Yeah. I'm curious to hear a little bit more around your experience around, you know, the pitching process. You worked as a project manager in agencies. And I think it's always interesting how potential clients approach agencies and what their expectations are. So it's very much about building a relationship. And really, if you got technology involved and things like that, you want to be looking for a longer term relationship. If it's a brief campaign that's maybe going to run three months, then yes, there's got to be some alignment. But building a really deep relationship is obviously in the interest of both parties. But it's not necessarily a prerequisite. From our point of view, where we're building websites, there's a lead time involved with that. There's a period of maintenance and so on. So so having an investment in that relationship is really important. So I wondered if you could just talk a little bit about some of the experiences that you had in agency land around approaches from potential clients and sort of going through that pitch process. Is there anything in particular that stands out that clients, I suppose, could do to improve their opportunities to become a great client, to get the most out of their agents relationship, that type of thing?

Ollie:
Yeah. So I think the primary reason that you would go to most agencies, apart from if we sort of take the Mad Men style element out of it, that's that the Ogilvy's and that type of huge branding agency where you're paying a premium for the the strategic stuff, most companies it's about I don't need to hire in-house or we don't have the skills in-house at this point. Let's farm this out because we need somebody who knows what they're doing and can do it properly. Most of the time it's cheaper than hiring somebody for that exact purpose anyways if we don't have the resource. So by that, I think you easily get branded as a commodity and it's sort of true, but I think it doesn't work like that long term. So if you have, let's say, a good experience with an agency and you think they did a good job, they hit all the boxes, everything's on time, no issues, nice people to work with, happy with the price I paid, all good. On that side, everything's you know, you should be happy with that. Both sides should be happy. But the second part of it is, I think it's sort of slept on. They're also there because they're very specialist in what they do. So that means, this is sort of where I've seen a few, not conflicts but misalignment a little bit, I could, I could say. We think we need this ABC and that type of stuff. Can you guys do it? And it's basically a brief of, here's the deliverables. Part of that, the agency's job is also to say, look, I don't think that bit is going to work. So let's say the solution is we want you to do lead gen for us for a quarter. And the part is let's do a webinar. The part is let's raise the email list, subscribers. Let's make some content so that's lead gen. We're going to do some Facebook ads, too. If the agency says, look, we don't think Facebook Ads is going to be the best channel, we might recommend this if you really wanted to do something different. But honestly, we're hesitant to put our name on that because we don't think it's going to work for all of these valid reasons. Honestly, take that as best as you can. I know that it's... He said, she said, it's a bit of an argument that you can't have internally there, but for the most part, this is what they do all the time and they've probably seen it happen. And really, if the agency takes work that they're not especially confident that it's going to work, they're going to fail, they're going to get fired, that they're not saying it because they don't want to do it.

Andrew:
Their hearts probably not in it either, is it? That's the other point.

Ollie:
Yeah, exactly. I think sometimes if you're working with a potentially smaller agency too, say they have amazing content writers or they have very good website people, but maybe not quite so good on the SEO front. And you've got a big chunk of SEO and they say, look, we'll do these bits A-Plus plus. But the next bit we're not going to be quite as confident. I would almost break that work out because for that they might have an excellent SEO person, but it doesn't mean that you have to keep the package as it is. So if you've got a good partner and you stick with them because not to paint agencies with a bad brush, but it's quite common to hear. Oh yeah, we've worked with agencies before. I'm sure that you've heard in the pitching process you've heard stuff like, yeah, we've been burned or we had a bad experience, just like any company with any vendor. But I think when you're talking about a service instead of a platform, it's different and that kind of sticks and that reputation spreads across the other companies who do that same thing too much worse.

Andrew:
I think, because people involved, there's always so many variables. And if you're dealing with a platform, you know, you've got a certain degree of consistency, which isn't always possible with people, you know, people of people and everyone behaves in slightly different ways. I think the key part of it is seeing it as a a long term relationship as as much as possible. And there's got to be investment on both sides, isn't there? It's there's a period of understanding and that takes time. It's not just going to happen overnight. And there's you know, if you're selecting an agency, you're going through perhaps things like location, certainly their skills, certainly who the key people are, obviously what they're going to cost. But there's a certain amount of effort that you've got to put in over and above that in terms of building the relationship, isn't there?

Ollie:
Yeah, definitely. Once you start as well. I mean, that was mostly the part that I was on the side of, why I did my own pitching. I was involved with that type of side quite heavily, too. But especially when you start, there's a massive culture difference that there can be, not always. But it's it's kinda like moving in with somebody, that new housemate, how do they do things, all of that stuff that you have worked out yet. And you've got to because they might do things a certain way. They might have certain tools and you have different ones. There's all kinds of things like that. Ten times more than you can think of. It is like building a house. It always goes too long and over budget. So in the same way, there's always more things that you haven't thought about that you will think about when it happens. No way around it. That's just how it is. It doesn't mean it's any easier when you come to say, OK, look, we're doing our first draft, the website. They want to take a week to do it. And you, the agency, think that's too short or that's too long. You always have to bridge those gaps, like you said, sort of investing very quickly on the agency side, saying to the to your client or you as the client, understand that they're going to have to push back on a few things. But they may also say, look, give us, give us a shot to see if this one works or you're going to have to sort of trust them a little bit because that's sort of what you're paying them to do. Expect them to also say, you know, we're going to start very quickly. We want to build momentum, we're going to work double speed or something for a little while to get really going because we care about it. We want to get this moving. Doesn't mean that forever. They will be night and day and ten minute turnaround, stuff like that, because that's just not sustainable.

Andrew:
The pace will have to ease at some point, won't it?

Ollie:
Yeah, it's an investment up front to get things moving, to be dedicated to the success that always worked well for me, probably not the best thing to do if you're going to go crazy and on board three new clients at the same time. But I think that always helped.

Andrew:
And I love that analogy that you talk about sort of moving in with someone and just trying to understand what the lay of the land is and who reacts to what and who challenges what. And how laid back might somebody be over a particular incident or scenario? I think that's great. But that often can't start until someone's made the decision to work with an agency, can it? Because quite often the pitch process, you know, there'll be sort of an enquiry that goes out or there might be a brief, there might not be a brief, it might not be very good brief. It can be all sorts of different scenarios there. But it's actually, from my point of view, I think it's really important that the opportunity to build that relationship starts before an agency is chosen, because then you get to get a feel. And I think a lot of pitch processes don't really allow for that. Yes, there might be an opportunity for questions. Tenders is a whole different ball game. Again, I hate the tender process and it's rare that we'll go for tenders ourselves because everything's kept at very much arm's reach and you don't have that opportunity to have those sort of smaller engagements more often than not, that can be really valuable when it comes to actually making a presentation and explaining what you can do, because if you've only got an hour to do a pitch or presentation for an agency, you know, there needs to be some some context behind that, particularly some people who might be sat on the panel or within the presentation. They might not have had any contact. Is there something that clients can can do is they're thinking of engaging an agency that actually can perhaps move some of that process slightly further forwards without it being really onerous on the agency for them to think, oh, hang on, we're not getting paid for this, which is obviously always a challenge. But I do think it's really important that that relationship starts to build and you start to feel some alignment before you've made that choice to work with a particular provider or partner.

Ollie:
Yeah, I've been lucky, honestly, to see this first hand without knowing it was a tactic, basically. My CEO's, my my founders and leadership team, they were excellent, at just general networking. So in a way, not being on LinkedIn all the time, that stuff. But we have a pitch. We go to their office back when you could anyways, or you're on Zoom, however you do it. And there is always the business talk and the small talk. And then there's another part which they excelled at. So I remember very clearly being in an office in London, my CEO came down. We were there for an extra two hours just having a chat and not just about the football, whatever it was about. We were going to do a lead gen campaign for four or five months and our CEO spent about 90 minutes really drilling into their product. He basically was a wizard with it. So he helped them unspin all of their problems that they had with it because it was new. They had to pay for it, too. It was causing them chaos. And he just debunked the entire thing that comes with the knowledge that comes with the being able to spend that time as well. So down to your interpretation on how you do that type of thing. But if you're the person who wants an agency, I would look for that as best you can. So if you can get, if it's the CEO who is doing the pitch or whoever the the key person is, look into that and try and speak to them. If you can go to the bar at lunch or go to the coffee shop at lunch, whatever it is, if that's possible, go with them and just chat about generally marketing, chat about generally everything that's going on in your space, see what they think, see if they're as experienced with working with similar companies too, there's a zillion agencies so most likely there are a few that look at exactly your market. But it's that type of casual conversation, aside from here is what we do, how we do it and how we'll do it for you, that stuff really separated oh, yeah this is the one that we trust. This is the one that we like. That was what I could feel sitting in the office. I never really thought it was just a pitch. I know we had four or five competing vendors who were working with different strands of that same company who were pitching for that work, too. I never felt so sure that we would get it, just because we spent quite a long time having a general chat about product because it would help them. And it wasn't that we had to spend two hours to impress them to be nice. It was just, it was natural. We were both having a good time. Both sides of the party, both enjoyed it because we care about that work, that problem. We deal with it. We both have expertise and opinions. That was the best way to do it, I think.

Andrew:
Yes, almost giving up front and sharing. I think from a client perspective, what's really important at that point is that they're not too guarded. It's not about giving away all the family secrets and the crown jewels, but there's got to be a you talked about trust earlier. There's got to be a certain degree of transparency, hasn't there, in terms of if you've got that challenge, allow an agency or allow a partner to be able to see the depth of that challenge, because that's where the experience can come in and actually open up different avenues and directions for a particular project, isn't it?

Ollie:
Yeah, on a very basic side of it. Almost cynical, you could say you're vetting them for their knowledge. Really. If you have an in-depth conversation with somebody about anything for an hour, you quickly find out whether they know a lot about that topic or not, just by doing that and as well their willingness to share some ideas and they'll be a few different types of reaction to that. So let's say you do take that walk down to the coffee shop after the meeting, or before they'll be the talk about other clients and that type of stuff. Not really too much shared, not really too much back and forth. Take that how you will. They'll be ones that immediately think I've got to charge extra for that. Or why do you want to know that? Who you telling this to? You know that that will happen too. And then once upon a time, there'll be someone that just tells you at all and they'll say, yeah, we use HubSpot and we found it great. But also part it was quite confusing in some aspects. It's great for this. They'll just keep going and you'll feel the passion coming out of that. Their ears will be steaming because there's so much trying to come out of their brain to. And that's probably, as long as everything else makes sense. That's the one that is going to over deliver for you and then over perform.

Andrew:
And the question side has to.. Got to flow both ways as well, because a client's entitled to know a little bit more about the agency too, aren't they, and what their plans are, what their sort of objectives for growth and things are, because ultimately you won't be able to grow together a bit like a marriage. You want to grow old together. And that relationship with an agency probably won't last as long as a marriage should do. But there's mutual interest, isn't there, on both sides? And the clients who are looking to hire an agency, it's not just about their skills, but they're perfectly entitled to ask questions about their growth ambitions and things like that to.

Ollie:
You know what's great for a podcast, a little bit of conflict. So I see your point, but in a way, I disagree a little bit.

Andrew:
OK,

Ollie:
So why don't we have this out a little bit further, what type of questions would you think as the agency would be perfectly normal and happy to share type of questions from their side? What would you be happy with hearing?

Andrew:
From my point of view, if they've got growth ambitions, they perhaps want to know what our growth ambitions are. Do we have plans to perhaps hire into a particular role? For example, you know, you talked earlier about how an agency might do one thing very well, but there might not be as good as SEO. And you might have to look at another provider for that. But, you know, sometimes clients, I think prefer or it's certainly more convenient to manage a single agency than managing several agencies. So if there was a particular project that felt that demand was going to grow, is that something that the agency is prepared to to move in that direction, to support it? That would seem like a legitimate question to ask.

Ollie:
Ok, yeah, that definitely that's just face level, you know, do you think you'll be having an SEO hire, just to pick that example if. Yes. Yeah. Great. If no. OK, great. Thanks for letting us know. I've literally just read an article which is quite interesting. It was something like a twelve point question checklist for the client to ask the agency and full transparency. Some of them were really good, some of them I felt like they were a complete violation, honestly, really, really, really in-depth. And I just thought when reading a couple of them, you wouldn't ask that of someone you buying software from. For example, if you're purchasing Zoom, say you're on the phone with the rep, you just wouldn't ask some of these things. And it's a different relationship. And I think it's, again, born from that commodity thing. It's a service, not a platform, as people involved. It comes from that. But yeah, I've been asked a couple of times about my future in the company as well. So stuff like when are you planning to leave or how long do you think you'll stay? And those types of things, which in a way I understand both. I felt your boss wouldn't ask you that. So that may be a little bit too far. And those clients you asked, I always had very tight relationships where we were basically friends anyway. So they knew I wasn't in danger of leaving or anything like that. And if it was, then we would have been very transparent with them. But at that earlier stage, I would find anything like that. If it ever happens, if I find out a little bit close to the line and I would wonder why that would be a question to if it ever was.

Andrew:
Yeah, I think you could read in sort of a few different things into that. Are they trying to poach you? Potentially? You've got to look at the team. You can't look at any one individual because there's lots of different scenarios that could come up in in an individual's life. And that's ultimately where the collective strength of an agency is, what people are in part buying into. Yeah, I very much believe people buy from people. And if you want a relationship, you have that relationship with with people rather than an entity like a company or or a brand. Although, you know, inevitably people do feel they have relationships with brands and companies. But yeah, I think that probably would overstepped the mark slightly. But I think, you know, it is it's really just about having the opportunity to have a conversation and explore different avenues that ultimately allow you to feel that you're on the same page. And it's not just restricted to a half hour or one hour presentation where there's an expectation there's perhaps a load of slides which are given. If that doesn't inspire, it doesn't allow for conversation. Yes, there might be a bit of Q&A. But I think what's really important is that conversations take place, not presentations, because actually if we're giving a presentation, chances are it's all about us. And that's that's not what the clients looking for. I think they're looking for our skill set and our capability. But if you're going to build a relationship, you can't do it through a one way broadcast presentation. You've got to have that two way conversation.

Ollie:
Yeah, the progress happens when you're both understanding each other. And then at that point, you see how things will play out instead of the everybody's got it. But the here's our logos slide and you're being talked about as the client. It's OK. Great. You know, HP. Well, I'm a small business. So how does that help me understand? Yeah. When you start talking about how it plays out, I just generally don't like to have a presentation. But obviously it's important if you're showing complicated things or you need to show the examples of stuff, it's much more professional than if you were to just whip out your laptop and open that website or whatever the case study would be, but maybe I'm just an anti PowerPoint, whatever it may be.

Andrew:
Well, speaking of presentations and websites, what's your view of SPEC work? You know, very often there's an expectation that perhaps design work is done up front and there's a presentation. And, you know, from from my point of view, it just feels like a beauty parade without looking behind the process or the experience or the ideas sometimes that an agency can provide. Do you have a view on on things like that and spec work?

Ollie:
Yeah, not a fan. Personally, I find that can be a bit of a lottery in my experience is we we didn't do a tremendous amount of it, but when we were asked of it, I felt that was a warning sign of this isn't quite the engagement we thought it might be or it's not going to play out the way that our most successful clients do in operational terms. So stuff like they would occasionally we would get a creative sample of some of our imagery. We'd have a video service as well. So they would have a look at our video deliverability and deliverables, I should say. Then it got down to interpretation. Great marketing to you might be slightly different to me, might be slightly different to the next person. You might think the John Lewis Christmas advert this year is going to be great. I think it's terrible. Someone else might think it's OK. That advert might still work just the same as last year. It doesn't mean anybody's right or wrong. It's just if they liked it. So really that that video and if, you know, my style is very plain and simple and sort of easy to look at, they might hate that. They might want it to be very pretty designed and more complex in design than my one. And that really doesn't mean it's going to achieve anything different than the other design. It's just the interpretation. So for that, I wasn't a fan of those things. I always felt like this is we're sort of over proving if we haven't already proved our knowledge and path to the right results. And, you know, there's other ways this stuff like references or can we speak to other clients, those things happen. But if it was if that was a big thing, I wondered why. And I thought for us, I don't think that's going to work the best way.

Andrew:
Yeah, I always think there's a danger that, you know, if you hire based on spec work, there's a there's almost an expectation is right that that's first stage done. Can we can move on, when actually it's usually been done in isolation. It's been done behind closed doors by the agency. There's a big reveal. Potentially the client loves it and they think, oh, great, yes, we can move forwards. And and as I say, I think there's that expectation that you can then just skip a big chunk of the work. But actually, you know, there's all sorts of considerations that might need to be discussed. And I think what's really important is that at the moment, if you're building a website, you've got to build a site that is sustainable to manage. So, you know, it might be that an agency thinks, oh, be great, we can have all these new pieces. We're going to have blog posts every every couple of days. There's going to be new videos added and so on. But actually, it's in isolation from what the client is able to physically provide. So if that is considered a done design, let's say and they say, let's take that into production, you've made allowance for all this content that can't be sustained and it can't be provided, then actually you're going to end up having to undo some of that work, which it could be classed as scope creep. It could be frustrating for for a team or it goes forwards and actually then it starts to look a bit stale when it's when it's out there in the wide world because you can't keep up with the production or the content that is required to fulfil it.

Ollie:
Yes. The cool thing about software companies is you can have a free trial and that solves that. But for things like services and people stuff, it's much more difficult. So in my mind, I find it difficult to patch that request together with what would happen. On the on the flip side, let's say this, the client is potentially making up gardening company. Right. And they want a new website. How would they feel about having a big job, 15 percent done before any agreement? Again, it's sort of it's a trade off between we want to prove our value. If we want to prove that we're in to this, we want to prove that we're with you. We're good partner. We can trust each other. So that part of it is completely understandable. But then on the flipside, it's well, you know, would that company feel comfortable or unhappy, we're doing a similar trade off. And I'm not saying it's ignorance that they would never do that. And it's that's just not how it works. And it's this is how agencies do it, because most people don't see it like that. But I think we we slightly forget also that agency people have lots of work to do, not an excuse. They have lots of moving parts. They could easily on board a new client next week. And that's a lot of work, too. They're paying for their resources all the time, whereas software can scale. So it doesn't matter if you have that free trial. It's nothing, doesn't cost anything and it's fine helps. But that person who makes that video, that person who spent a few hours on that design, if you go with someone else, the agency will still pay that bill. So I think in a way that gets used a little bit too often where you might have three or four specs, three quarters of those end up not getting it, which is the unfortunate thing. It's kind of part of it. But I find that challenging to get my head around a little bit sometimes.

Andrew:
Or worse, There's a risk that they get pulled out for another brief further down the line and just reused that aren't necessarily know of the same same sort of direction or the same sort of requirement.

Ollie:
Yeah, but I bet you've heard it before a few times. Oh, we love the work that this designer did, will they be our person full time. And at that point you have to say, well, I don't know, they might be. There might not be. It's it depends. You know, there's a there's ebbs and flows to the work and particularly people's workloads. That might be one team gets a big project one week and the team leader has to help the whole team. It's not possible to give any of the clients that one person. It's difficult to promise those things.

Andrew:
We've talked a lot about the pitch process and we're coming up to time. What have our clients has hired an agency. Obviously, there's depending on the type of work that's that's done. And from my point of view, it's we're doing digital work. What are some of the things that clients can do on an ongoing basis to make sure that they're investing in that relationship and they're not they're not going to allow it to go stale?

Ollie:
I would say the way that I've seen some of my clients over time, the ones that just it works really well together, both sides of it. Not just that it was a good fit culturally and those things because they can be worked out or it's either a complete misfit or it's not, investing in, just being part of the team together. So as much as it is two teams, as much as that's factually your two companies integrating and just fully defining each person's role. So I would say we're a whole marketing team and I come on board as the project manager. So I'm the sort of ops person and then I have a developer, so that's the technical person. I have a content team. So that's the content writer. They have an ads person so that's the ads side of it. Pigeonholing each one of those things really helps. And then from that you can say we're a team and that really helps with the most important thing for long term six months in or however long the inflection point is, there'll be a look at what's our next initiative or what we're going to do in 2022 or what we're going to do for our Christmas campaign, whatever those future things are. Having a seat at the table for that as the agency is really, really, really important.

Ollie:
So just like we were talking about before, we hit record, if your leadership goes and sell something and then you're in charge of delivery and you had an idea that's not going to help you, that's going to be difficult for you to deliver and you might not understand all of it. That's a difficult thing to do. So in the same way, if the client goes and has a brand new project, they want to try account based marketing, which is an advertising tactic. OK, but we didn't know about that. And maybe we agree. Maybe we disagree. Kind of irrelevant now that it's been decided that as much as the teamwork partnership can be proactively done, I think that really helps. They can say, look, oh, what did you think about this extra idea that might make it work better? Or in our opinion, a slight pivot in strategy might be better, that type of thing. It doesn't mean you have to agree. Does it mean everyone has to disagree? It's just being there to give the opinion because your agency should be your expert. And if they don't know, they can't give you the advice or give you their opinion or help.

Andrew:
Yeah, sure. What your clients expectations be of of agency. I mean, you've obviously got you've talked about different roles now, like project manager, your larger agencies might have account managers and things like that. Would you be expecting monthly check ins? And it can vary obviously on the campaign, because if you've got a lot of activity, you may not even have a daily check ins. And and some teams may even go for a daily stand up meeting where they're absolutely clear that everyone's on the same page. You what have you seen from agency side that is equally as important, investing in that relationship?

Ollie:
Oh, yeah. I would always do a weekly half hour, always same time, same zoom like for ease for everybody, and we would just have a running Google doc with some notes, some stuff like we know that we need this email written for Thursday and that's for that's for John. And we know that this event needs to be tweeted about tomorrow and that's for Sally or whoever it name, date time tasks, that type of things every week to see that it was a good way to keep the house in order then anything barring that, any future stuff, any strategic things, basically asking is never a bad thing. So if you say, look, we want to revisit our ad strategy or we want to rethink our ACL a little bit, whatever is having that agent decide, let's have a chat with you and the whole team. How have you choose to do it? Think of it like this. It's on them to say, I'm spending too much time. They'll tell you in a diplomatic way it's on them to say, I can't make that call or whatever it is or let's think one to one, something like that. The only time that that type of collaboration, that type of teamwork is ever going to be a bad thing is if literally they can't spend that time because they've got to do other things the same way that you do. But that's the only single time that that's a bad thing. And an agency won't want to be part of that if that sort of overstepping and they've got to little resource for other stuff. So that's on them to manage that. But, yeah, I would always have a weekly half an hour. That's how we'd run the shop. And then anything else, I would generally do a 10, 15, 20 minute slack or whenever and whatever was needed. I always found that if I can quickly call for five minutes, sit down like if we ever needed to, if we needed something quickly, we needed to just get on the same page. That was fine. I would take ten of those a day as if I was in an office. I saw it was the same thing is that's the water cooler time, or that's me bop around your desk to say how you get on something. That's a two minute slack call.... That was how I did it.

Andrew:
All makes all make sense. And and ultimately the key words here isn't, which is collaboration and compromise. I think those are probably the two the two main points that come out of this conversation. Well, perhaps we could a third in there for conversation, collaboration and compromise.

Ollie:
They got it. Yeah, you could say you could market it. 3 C's. That's a good one.

Andrew:
Well, we'll see how someone can have that for free. Maybe, but that's certainly something that we aim to to work by. Well, look Ollie, it's, we're coming up on time, like I said. So let's let's wrap up there. But tell me or tell listeners even a little bit more about where people can find out about you. And obviously, I presume vanilla soft and also close will have the websites. But where can people find more details about yourself?

Ollie:
Yeah, I'm lucky to have a strange name. Not too many people share my my name. So if you just put me in Linkedin such a canned cliche answer, but I'm probably the first one that comes up - bright yellow background. So, you know, it's me on the profile picture and I'm the same on Twitter. I spent most of my time on LinkedIn and from that profile you'll find AutoKlose.com, which is K instead of a C in the close and vanillasoft.com, which is like the ice cream, soft dot com. Yeah. I spend all my time on LinkedIn, I run a podcast, I talk about it nonstop on LinkedIn. I talk about how we approach our guests or the sort of nuanced stuff about how I'm trying to grow that. But that's my thing at the moment. To say the Linkedin word again, that's where I spend my time.

Andrew:
Okay. And what's your podcast called?

Ollie:
It's there's zero to five million podcast. It's basically a founder of a company, any shape, size, industry, and they don't have to be worth between zero and five million. But that's the range where we're trying to understand how the entrepreneurs of the world are making their mistakes, how they've doubled down on things that worked and what they found out along the way.

Andrew:
Excellent. Sounds good. And I guess that will be like ours available on all popular podcast apps.

Ollie:
As many as I can get it on. Yeah, it's on Apple and Spotify and all the others.

Andrew:
Great stuff.

Andrew:
Ok, right. Well thanks very much indeed for joining us. Interesting conversation. Yeah. Conversation, collaboration and compromise. Those seem to be the three takeaways. Thanks again, Ollie. Really appreciate your time.

Ollie:
Thanks very much for having me, sir.

Andrew:
So thank you to my guests, as usual, for joining me on the Clientside podcast we spoke to about the three CS that need to be at the center of an agency relationship. If you're looking for a new agency partner, hopefully some of the points we talked about today will be helpful. Of course, I'm going to add that if you're looking to work with an agency and please do look us up our website is adigital.agency and we'd love to hear from you. So don't forget to check out my book over on Amazon. Just search for Holistic Website Planning, which also includes some of the points we talked about today. And finally, we'd love to hear what you think about the podcast. Get in touch by dropping us an email to hello@theclientside.show. Or you can find me over on LinkedIn, which is where I generally hang out online. And if you can, do tell your friends about the show we'd be massively grateful. If you could leave us a review over an Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcast, fix it. That's it for today. We'll be back in a couple of weeks time. We'll be talking about something that you might have heard of called Core Web Vitals, which is a new set of measures Google is introducing into their algorithm basically all around your site, speed and performance, which has become increasingly important for Google rankings over recent years. But this is a major change to their algorithm, which is going to be introduced over the next few months. So do make sure that you tune in next time to hear all about it. Thanks again for joining me. See you in a couple of weeks.

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It's kinda like moving in with somebody, that new housemate, how do they do things, all of that stuff that you have worked out yet. And you've got to because they might do things a certain way. They might have certain tools and you have different ones. There's all kinds of things like that.

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