Anyone who works in consulting, whether that is creative consulting, or in marketing or sales agencies will know that the success of the business depends on maintaining a healthy margin. Also, in an age where everyone is trying to increase productivity, anything that affects the margin is harmful for the long-term success of a client-facing agency.
When the success of a project depends on roll out by the agency the margin can usually be controlled and mitigated through the actions of the agency. However, there are some projects that are not only mission-critical to the client, but also handed over to them for implementation.
Usually when that happens, some form of training accompanies the handover so the client can effectively use the solutions provided. The problem is that if the training isn’t properly supported, people on the client side can forget how to use the solution, not be confident in their ability to handle change or feel like the methods they used before are better than the solutions presented.
This creates a big issue regarding margin, because what inevitably happens is that the client will request additional support, ongoing maintenance, and a heavier touch in the implementation, none of which is usually budgeted, leading to diminishing returns on the project regardless of how insightful or practical the solutions are.
How to mitigate for training needs in agency projects
When it comes to the success of critical marketing or sales agency projects, the solution is almost never the reason for loss of margin, project failure or in the worst case, loss of client. Instead, what we have found over the years is that the training element of certain projects is usually the root of unexpected problems. This is completely understandable given that a marketing agency for example, doesn’t specialise in training.
In circumstances where the client needs to learn and implement significant new processes or ideas, you’ll need not only training but well designed follow up. In that case, we advise partnering with a learning design agency and factoring that into your proposals. Although it might seem like an additional expense, in the long run it reduces implementation costs and missed opportunity costs for a client and helps maintain healthy margins for agencies. Here is a quick introduction into how that partnership should work.
The agency superpowers are its industry insights and creativity when thinking about how to overcome complex sales or marketing issues. The handover of big projects is usually done in a workshop, however that has its limitations.
To make sure that the content from your workshop actually gets implemented by the client, partner with a learning design agency to:
- Help convert solution content into learning content that can be leveraged to increase knowledge and help implement skills
- Make specific learning documents and items, such as materials used in learning sessions that are designed to be interactive, including eLearning
- Create training activities that leverage science to increase the chances that learning will be understood, such as flipped classrooms, and advise on how to deliver training or do the delivery themselves
- Design a support system that gets more of training used in the workplace, including knowledge retention, skills application, and mindset change
- Provide meaningful tools for evaluation that enhance knowledge of how to increase business impact through training and iterate for future training needs
What to do first
Before you consider partnering with a learning design agency, audit your training needs by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do we have projects that require training for smooth handover?
- Are those projects critical to our clients’ success?
- Do we currently run short workshops as training interventions?
- Do we ever get additional or ongoing requests for support following those workshops that are unbudgeted?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’d probably benefit from working with a learning design agency to support the implementation of your solutions and maintain profit and productivity in your company.
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