Flint Michingan-based agency, Click Control Marketing has never been afraid to try something new. Whether it’s incorporating automation and improving their internal processes or offering different services that their clients request–their team goes all in.
“We talk about how we can change and tweak things often,” says Christina Cypher, Director of Marketing. Their boutique agency serves over 100 clients and wouldn’t be on the path to agency growth without revising four core areas of their agency:
1. Client Proposal Process
2. Agency Structure
3. Internal Communications
4. Thinking from Clients’ Perspectives
Although agency growth is a constant, ongoing process at Click Control Marketing, Cypher and her team are excited to continue growing their client base with the tried and true strategies they’ve implemented thus far.
Changing Management Basics for Remote Success
“Going virtual was tough at first,” Cypher admits. “Before Covid, we were in the office every day, and we were not virtual at all, so none of our processes really reflected that.”
To overcome these challenges, she says it was necessary to break down barriers, give clear direction, encourage autonomy, and delegate responsibilities to team members.
“Giving people the responsibility to make decisions and come up with different ideas was a culture shift that took some time,” she states. “But that tweak was necessary to open the door for a lot of other things.”
Quicker decisions were made in the short term, and they experienced fewer bottlenecks at the top. Long-term, Cypher recognized that it allowed her team to grow within the business.
“We’ve had people switch departments completely because they wanted to try out something new,” she says. “We’re open to the possibility that everything is an opportunity, and if someone on our team is willing to try something, then we support that growth or innovation.”
Aside from job roles shifting and making internal communication more clear than it’s ever been, the Click Control Marketing team underwent several “trials” to test out new processes that would work with their new remote culture.
For example, one of their most successful trials was testing their “core hours” so the team could flex their time while working remotely.
“This was a huge adjustment, but once we figured out how to communicate more effectively asynchronously, we were able to start hiring talent who worked in different time zones,” Cypher says.
Optimizing the Client Proposal Processes
When Cypher joined Click Control Marketing in 2020, she recognized that the agency’s internal processes weren’t as efficient as they could be. And their outdated proposal process, in particular, needed to be restructured.
“The proposal process was a little disorganized in the beginning because of miscommunication,” she explains. “There were questions that weren’t being asked during initial calls.”
Even though the majority of their clients come from referrals, replacing this process with something that would work better was crucial to their agency’s long-term success. Luckily, Cypher and the leadership team didn’t have to start from scratch.
“We used to get information through drawn-out notes that were scanned and things like that,” Cypher laughs. “Which is fine because you can get a lot of meaningful information from that, but now we have a dedicated section for those notes.”
Previously, they would conduct research they thought was relevant but end up sending a proposal that was off-base or unrelated to what the client discussed during a meeting.
“We really needed a process that was systemized and consistent every single time,” she says. “Something that would allow the entire leadership team to be working collaboratively and a lot less back and forth.”
Cypher spent weeks researching potential solutions, including asking the team what would work best for them.
“It was a lot of trial and error, and if something didn’t work, we would pivot and try something else,” she says. “There are a lot of automation features that we take advantage of alerts that make sure the right people on the team are getting the right information at the right time."
And she says the best way to ensure their new proposal process was successful and working for their clients was simple–just ask!
“We conducted interviews with clients after they signed their contract, and we would ask, ‘How was that process for you? What could we have done better?’ and then we tweaked the process from there.”
Cypher admits that it will be a continuously evolving process, but it has improved their workflows immensely from an internal and external standpoint.
Click Control Marketing’s proposal process can be broken down into four steps:
1. Digital Face-to-Face Meetings
Whether it’s a referral from an existing client or a cold lead, Click Control Marketing always starts by scheduling an initial call to ‘meet’ their prospective client to make a human connection–even virtually.
Cypher wanted to instill in her team that every change they made needed to be with their clients in mind.
Going back to an invaluable leadership lesson she learned years back when she was managing an ice cream shop, Cypher decided to create a personalized experience for each individual customer that would be unforgettable for them.
“Being able to connect with people in thirty seconds or less at a window over ice cream is a huge life lesson because, in marketing, that's essentially what you're doing–trying to figure out where your customer is at, their journey, and kind of meeting them there, and figuring out how to get the sale,” she says.
Photo: Christina Cypher poses with a sundae at the ice cream shop she managed in the past.
“Even though we’re in digital marketing, it’s super important to make that connection human-driven.”
2. Getting Clear on KPIs and Goals
Then, they gather as much information as possible to see if the client-agency relationship will be a good fit.
“We talk about their business, their main problems, their goals, and what they’re interested in,” says Cypher.
Clients of Click Control Marketing have direct access to the team member working on their specific campaign. This is a strategy that has helped them make any necessary changes quickly and avoid having a “middleman” as an account manager.
“This approach has been essential to making us stand out from our competitors,” Cypher says. “And that we’re not getting complacent and asking the tougher questions to make sure we get our research done right.”
3. Researching Potential Marketing Solutions
The next step involves a lot of research time upfront before a client signs on as part of making meaningful relationships with their prospects.
“We take all of that information, do a huge deep dive, and that’s when top-of-mind solutions come up.”
4. Sending the Proposal
Everyone on the team is involved in the researching process, so when the client signs the proposal, the team can get the client’s marketing services running within a week or two.
“We send the proposal back to the client, and if they sign it, we’re ready to go at that point because everyone has been involved in the research, distilled the information, and is ready to go.”
Image: Click Control Marketing’s client proposal template
Communication Foundations for Scale
Another challenge that Click Control Marketing faced was needing a structured leadership team to continue scaling their agency.
“When I joined, the CEO did all of the prospecting calls and the sales calls and tried to get information to the team,” Cypher explains. “When everything is running through one person, it’s not going to be very efficient. But when you have a whole team working towards a goal, a lot can happen!”
With the creation of Cypher’s role, their agency was able to grow and continue acquiring and onboarding new clients. Although she reports to the CEO, she has two managers that report to her–the Head of Paid Ads Strategist and the Social Media Manager.
“Our agency isn’t afraid to try new things,” she states. “We don’t say things like, ‘This is the way we’ve always done it.’ We’re always finding ways to improve and reiterate all of our processes and the way we do things.”
And gatekeeping information was something they knew wouldn’t propel them forward and only hinder the performance for their clients’ campaigns.
“Having a tool like Monday makes sure all of the information is there if I need to reassign something to the Head of Strategy if I’m away from work,” Cypher explains.
She says internal communication amongst their team has been key to the success of this new structure.
“Everything the CEO is working on, or anything that I’m involved in, is visible for other team members,” she says. “It’s crucial because if a client has a question, they could go into my documents, and everything is clearly labeled.”
Restructuring With Purpose
After the leadership team was put in place, they wanted to get clear on every employee's job description and what each person’s role entailed. The agency decided to literally change everyone’s job description and titles–completely restructuring their agency to become fully virtual.
“We did a lot of one-on-one meetings and communicated our plan,” she explains. “We said, ‘These are your skillsets, and we’d like to lean into them. We’re thinking of moving you to this position.’”
Although it was a slow process, Cypher wanted to make sure the turbulence the agency was going through was not affecting their clients in any way.
“We had a lot of background time and internal collaboration to make sure the employee understood everything about the account before the introduction was made to the client,” Cypher says.
Taking the slow and steady restructuring approach helped them avoid any mistakes and keep every single client during their transition period.
However, they are a 100% remote agency, so they go the extra distance to ensure a personal connection with their clients via Zoom.
“We tailor the client experience to their communication preferences,” says Cypher. “But we always make sure we clearly communicate the performance of the previous month and the plans for the month ahead in a report with a written summary.”
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Ideation Through Regular Team Collaboration
Because Click Control Marketing is a fully remote agency, communication has been beneficial in many ways–from internal processes to brainstorming ways to stay ahead of the curve. She says some of their best solutions come from having weekly team meetings in which everyone participates.
“Everyone on our team has very good ideas, and giving them the space to at least share those ideas with the rest of the team is important,” Cypher says. “Sometimes the leadership team just has to ask, ‘What is the quickest way to get this done?’ And they might say, ‘Why don’t we do it like this?’”
Cypher recognized early on that larger group meetings offer different outcomes than smaller meetings can because they’re a learning opportunity for everyone involved.
“If they aren’t a part of those conversations regularly, then it will be difficult for them to have a one-off conversation asking things like, “Hey, what do you think about this strategy?’ Having everyone a part of those higher-level meetings consistently keeps everyone involved and coming up with better solutions.”
It’s also helped them stay ahead of the curve with marketing solutions for their clients and improving their agency.
“We come together weekly to discuss anything that’s popping up, campaign performance, new features or anything that’s changing,” she explains.
They recently held a meeting to discuss the implementation of AI tools.
“We’ll bring articles to the meeting and say things like, 'We should talk about how we can use AI in our ad copy,'” Cypher says.
Their remote team also stays connected by having daily 1:1 meetings ranging from five to thirty minutes. And although they can feel quick and unproductive occasionally, the touchpoint between client projects has made all the difference.
“We tried getting rid of our daily huddles, and it was probably our worst week in terms of communication,” she admits. “We all felt out of sync on client projects, and things that would normally be a quick question over the phone would make our Slack channels go crazy!”
They learned that even though it seemed like they were only asking about someone’s weekend, having an open line of communication actually enabled them to stay more productive and efficient.
“We could always say, ‘Hey can we talk this out after our huddle?’ or ‘I’ve got this report to do,’ or, ‘I need to get back to this client about x,y,z, and I need help.’ So we ended up keeping these daily video calls.”
Alignment at the Executive Level
Cypher enjoys finding new ways to do things in marketing-related books such as The Agency Playbook by Jason Swenk and Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman. They’ve taught her things about effective leadership from the top down and how to make communication really solid.
“My communication with the CEO is important to make sure everything runs efficiently. And if there's any type of communication breakdown between him and me, there's usually a communication breakdown between the rest of the team and me. So that book has really helped identify any issues before they happen.”
Cypher says she wouldn’t be able to be the leader she is today without the support of her CEO, Walt Conger.
He empowers her to create and achieve goals independently–without micromanaging–and helps build up her skillsets.
“He makes himself available for any questions I have and always supports me along the way,” she says. “I believe this is what has helped me grow with my leadership, and I strive to do the same for the rest of the team.”
With that alignment locked down, Cypher and the team at Click Control Marketing plan to continue testing the waters to improve how they do things for their clients.
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Expanding With Strategic Growth
The team is currently exploring partnerships with other agencies to offer more services to their clients.
“We want to test every process, and if it’s something that more and more of our clients are requesting, then we’ll bring the service in-house,” Cypher says. “We did this exact process with our social media services, and now we’re working on building that department up.”
They also want to ensure that anyone they partner with understands their processes and maintains consistency across their clients’ brands.
And although they work with clients in various industries, such as dental franchises, attorneys, and home-service-based businesses, Click Control Marketing is excited to work with more eCommerce clients as they continue to grow.