Just like personal relationships, the relationship with your agency is an investment that will compound over time and to be successful you need to approach the relationship as a partner.
So, it’s important to know what to expect from this partnership, what role you’ll be playing, what boundaries to set and how to have the most rewarding relationship now and into the future.
Here are our seven tips for working with an agency.
By Jon Dunn
Passion combined with a little education.
To make the relationship work your agency should be fully invested in your goals, processes and audience. From the initial onboarding experience, it’s vital that they start to understand your brand DNA and culture. Find opportunites for them to experience your product or service, through the lens of a customer so they get first-hand experience of the benefits and any potential shortcomings.
Assign a dedicated contact.
This is a partnership for growth so it makes sense to assign someone on your team with the correct management skills to manage the agency relationship. This is a person who is intuitive, good at managing and preferably has actual experience liaising with an outside agency.
This person will ensure that everyone is invested and on the same page.
Make your objectives clear.
Every agency is different, they may be good but even the best aren’t clairvoyant, so it’s vital that your expectations are clear. Without this, agencies will sometimes drift into a lane where you don’t want to be positioned. So be sure to review your organisational and marketing results with your agency on a monthly basis to ensure their work is meeting your strategic expectations.
Get agreement early.
Planning for and executing major updates to an existing marketing programme or creating a new one, takes time.
Your agency will need time to research, hypothesise, strategise and test. There are often a lot of moving parts and people involved on both sides to get the deliverables, ultimately, delivered!
The difference between confusion and clarity.
90% of missed deadlines are because of poor planning or poor communication between the client and their agency. Things like over-optimistic timelines breed unrealistic deadlines, so be transparent with your agency about updates, feedback, and changes on the work the agency delivers. Remember it’s in their best interests to meet your objectives – so are they working hard to meet them?
Know where you are.
As much as we say we hate them, regular meetings mean that updates can be provided proactively, meaning you stay on top of things.
Just ensure these meetings have a set agenda that stays focused on work-in-progress topics and updates. Detailed tactical and technical topics along with creative “brainstorm sessions” should be scheduled elsewhere.
Let your agency push you.
You hired your agency because you identified skills you don’t have internally and you need to achieve prescribed business goals. So why not let your agency challenge your thinking? If you properly selected your agency, then trust them to take you outside of your comfort zone. Taking a risk may change the perception of your brand and spark a dialogue with a whole new audience.