Collaboration over delegation: How working together with an agency delivers better marketing

Marketing actions may seem like something you assign or delegate to someone else. Need a new website built? Hire a website designer, have a meeting or two, and let them get on with it. (They’re the designers, after all: they know what to do.) Need a PDF guide? Come up with a title and ask a content writer to create the content for the guide, and a designer to make it look beautiful.

However, although this seems like the fastest way, it’s not the best way. To create the very best marketing, delegation isn’t the answer. Collaboration is.

Your marketing needs to be the most accurate reflection of you and your firm. For this to happen, you need to know, trust and have a relationship with those who will work on your firm’s branding, website and marketing plans and actions.  You’ll also need to connect with the person who is writing magical words to reach your ideal clients; and those who develop and create all the design language you will see in your deliverables for your brand, website, socials, PDF’s, events or any marketing material you need.

At PF, our approach is collaborative, so we can truly hear from you. You’ll be used to seeing one or two faces regularly, and your Client Marketing Manager (CMM) is the primary point of contact, the person who looks after you and all your strategy. You may see another team member now and then, but  a creative team is much more than just one person. You need to work in harmony with the entire creative team.

We don’t do marketing for you, we do marketing with you, and then this leads to better results.

Collaboration is at the heart of great marketing

You know your story and clients better than anyone else. You know why you started your business, you know its mission and the things you would like to achieve with it. No matter how good we are at marketing – or anyone you hire to help you with marketing – they will never replace this knowledge, this expertise, these ideas and thoughts you have on a daily basis. The conversations you have with clients and prospects. The excitement of signing a great new client, or the frustrations of needing to let go a frustrating client. For this important reason, collaboration is one of the most important parts of your marketing system, and for us it means we always include our accountants along the marketing journey.

After all, the victories are yours. We’re here to help you get them. It’s not about us (or any marketing person or agency) magically getting results for you: it’s about working collaboratively to help you see the results you are perfectly capable of getting.

The results do feel like magic after a while, after a lot of work. We support you all the way and guide you through your marketing process, digging deep into “marketing gold dust”, magical and powerful things you said (or your clients said) which need to be communicated to your ideal audiences.

If you’re confused, we will help you identify the best option or route you can take. If you have ideas and aren’t sure the best format to present them in, your Client Marketing Manager will always collaborate with PF’s designers and content writers to make sure you get the best out of all the different perspectives and skills we have in our team.

You will always need to be part of how we collaboratively do marketing because it’s your experiences and knowledge about your business which matter the most. When combined with our strategy, content and design expertise, you’ve got marketing which is beautiful, powerful, AND delivers results.

How the creative process helps you create the best marketing

New and creative ideas for your accounting firm come from doing good research, combining perspectives and understanding the concept behind any creation. The systems and rhythms we use at PF help you identify the crucial elements that will make your accounting firm speak to the right people (those clients you love to work with), and also have your content and design aligned so everything is consistent.

Here’s how the creative process flows at PF, and how it helps you:

1. Strategy: Gather all the marketing gold dust

Your Client Marketing Manager will work with you from day 1, to understand the things you want to accomplish with your marketing. Before this can happen, we need to make sure we have the right information about your accounting firm, about your audience and your goals. This is what we call Foundations, in this workshop we will collaborate with you to get the right information about your firm. We need to hear from you about who you are, who you serve, your tone of voice, and things we don’t know yet about your firm. This is why we need your participation during these conversations. We’re acting like a prospect – but not only one prospect. We are the combination of every prospect who will ever get in touch, who ever wondered about your firm. We bring up the questions you may not even realise they’re wondering, and draw out the best of who you are so you can make sales faster. So your marketing actually works.

All the actions you take for your marketing are going to be based on the information we gather during your Foundations.

2. Brainstorm: the more you talk, more positive perspective you’ll have

You will have 4 Foundation sessions and 1 action session: within these you will have the opportunity to work with 2 CMMs during the whole process. In your brand session you will also meet one of our content writers, who is there to ask you important questions about your ideal audience and to then collaborate with CMMs to have the right words and messages for your audience.

To build a better action plan for you we always include our content writers’ and designers’ perspectives and ideas. This creative brainstorming is powerful because it isn’t only one person coming up with ideas: it’s the whole marketing team, working together for and with you, with different perspectives and viewpoints.

This part of the process also helps us train our brain and our creativity, combining different skills and experiences. Creativity is also a muscle, and must be trained

3. Brain space: take some time to let those ideas soak

As creatives we always take time to have brain space during our work process and we also ask you to have some brain space too. In between Foundations sessions and/or any strategy session, we encourage you to take the time to let your brain diggest the information and then come back with fresh eyes.

Brain space is fundamental to have better ideas, it helps to be focused and not lose the attention to detail which is necessary to digest all the information for a specific project and come back later with boosted and stronger ideas and actions. It’s tempting to rush your marketing, but as our clients have soon discovered, they’d rather have marketing done right than done rushed.

4. Gather all the ideas: everything working like a harmony

By this stage you have all the ingredients and perspectives together from people that have different skill sets. You provide your experience and foundations about your firm. The CMM will be taking care of the strategy, ask the right questions and work in collaboration with you and the team. Then you will have a content writer behind every strong message you will need to make your marketing succeed and, finally, you will also have a designer focused on every visual aspect of your brand and marketing material. This is like the way music works: we need you and all the PF team’s notes together to generate harmony.

5. Execute: magic is in the details

Once the CMM works in collaboration with you to have the right information and create the strategy and actions. The content team uses their magic power to create words that would speak to your ideal audience, they use several elements from your Foundations or any strategy session to be able to create the right message for your audience.

Then, designers create the visual concept which includes the strategy to know the audience, the value content writers provide will affect the direction designers will take because they now have the right words to communicate and send the message across.

We all work in harmony and our band include your perspective as a client from the first moment, this is why everything start with marketing education (Accelerator), then we move to the research and strategy (Foundations) and finally we action the plan involving each note, clients are a note, CMMs are a note, content writer are a note, designers are a note. Without one of these stages, the music will be incomplete, because the harmony isn’t the same note shared by multiple people; it’s different notes which complement each other.

Digging deep takes time, but provides the richest marketing in line with your goals

When you get excited about a new marketing idea, you want to see it in action straight away. All this collaboration does mean things don’t happen instantly: we need time for the harmony, time for the different perspectives, and time for the brain space. We honour the process and the system, because without it you won’t achieve positive results. It feels exciting to do things fast: but again, it’s better they are done right and done properly, than done rushed and hurriedly.

As accountants the work you do isn’t merely about churning out numbers. You too have processes, timelines, requirements and things you need to align before executing your work. A creative agency is not a matter of people creating pretty designs: we take time to educate our clients to have a better understanding of marketing. We dig deep to know their business foundations, their goals, their audience, their fears, and what you consider success. All of this is compiled together to create a concept representing everything your company stands for, everything you can do for those clients you love to work with. We gather all the pieces of that clear picture and then communicate that with result driven designs that speak to the people you want to work with.

During this process we may need several discussions before jumping into the execution process. There are brainstorming meetings, brainspace moments to get the most of each element we got from the strategy stage and finally, after executing the work, we will have a feedback process. As you are part of the harmony of our song, we have you on board from day one and until the last day, you will have the opportunity to share your honest feedback about all the deliverables. There will always be some back and forward between you and your CMM and then between your CMM and the content and/or design team.

Rushing this process is not an option, because it means things are missed out. Together we need to follow it because we know it works, we know this is how we achieve better results. Anytime we’ve tried to rush things, we’ve missed out on critical ideas, thoughts, and opportunities which were forgotten about in the hurry to “just get this marketing action finished”. It’s not about finishing the PDF guide in a hurry; it’s about having something which gives enormous value to your prospects, which they will be more likely to download and read. It’s not about having a website so you have a website; it’s about sharing the right message to the right people so your website actually appeals to the kind of people you want to work with.

There are always small things you can do, small victories you can win while the project is being worked on

If your new brand is underway, you can still create great content which will be rebranded as soon as your new name and brand are launched. If your website isn’t fully built yet, you can still write blog posts and record videos which will be shown to be an even better advantage on your new site. There are small achievements you can make while you are waiting for the big ones to be complete.

The best place to start is by learning about the 12 core marketing elements for accountants, and how these apply to you. To know more, read about Accelerator and the stories of other accountants who have used it to great success.

We want you to have the knowledge and understand why having you onboard and involved within your marketing is so important. It will change how you communicate, and how you and all the PF team approach your marketing. Remember, no matter who you hire to help you create marketing materials, it’s you who are the heart and soul of your great marketing.