If you have ever worked with an advertising or marketing agency, you know there are likely to be a few bumps along the way. Very rarely do you find a “Eureka!” moment, where the agency gets it exactly right the moment you walk into their office.
That’s because “perfect” takes time. And more than a little bit of effort from both parties. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither should your digital campaign, marketing automation program, or creative project.
But, working in a fast-paced industry, we understand you have deadlines. And so we have come up with the 6 best ways to work smarter with your agency in order to get exactly what you need (and, hopefully, a bit more than you expected) out of your agency relationship.
1. Set expectations up front.
I recently read an article that said you should let go of expectations. On one hand, I agree with it in theory because you and the agency need space to ideate and grow. On the other hand… how else can you get what you need? This does not mean your agency has to produce something exactly as you tell them. If that were the case, you could – and should – do the work yourselves. But look to your agency as a partner. Tell them your goal and let them come up with the solution with you (we’ll get to partnerships into more detail later).
2. Don’t forget the strategy.
Many times we, as an agency, are asked to develop campaigns with no real strategy behind it. Or, we help create a strategy in order to check off some box, but then it’s forgotten the minute it’s complete. Your strategy should lay the groundwork for everything you do as a company, from your messaging to your brand guidelines even to how you deliver your message to the marketplace. A good strategy gets everyone on the same page, driving more efficient projects, and, dare we say, getting it right.
3. Build a true partnership.
No one knows the ins and outs of your business the way you do. But, your agency houses a wealth of knowledge, too. While your marketing is most likely only part of your job, the agency’s sole reason for being is marketing. So, you do you and let them do them. The magic happens when you bring the business insights, the agency brings the marketing expertise, and, together, you achieve outstanding results.
4. Follow the process.
Any agency worth their salt has their processes down, from information gathering to delivery. But the process also includes making sure there’s a single point of contact on the client side to – as we like to say – foster communications, obtain necessary answers and approvals and present deliverables to. This will make for a more cohesive, streamlined relationship and a better work product.
5. Take risks.
One of the wonderful things about marketing is that it is constantly changing. Most consumers – specifically millennials – don’t like ads, which makes advertising just slightly difficult. The bright side is that new techniques and technologies make it possible to sell stories rather than just pitch products and allow us to market to the right people at the right time. Agencies are constantly learning, testing and measuring new trends. If your agency recommends something that might be out of your comfort zone, try it anyway. It might be the thing that gets you the most return on your investment (or maybe not). But there is no real progress without risk.
6. Evaluate. And evaluate again.
Marketing is a high stakes business and should constantly be reviewed for ROI, effectiveness, and timeliness, among many other things. You should review analytical data on a regular basis (monthly, quarterly and annually) with your agency to see how your marketing is performing. To add to that, if you feel your needs aren’t being met, you should consider an agency review. It doesn’t mean you’re necessarily shopping for another agency; rather, the review helps you see the big picture. Was the strategy on point? Were your company’s goals unrealistic? Through the process, you and your agency might even discover a new opportunity.
I read somewhere that your relationship with your agency is kind of like a marriage. And we all know that marriage, while great, isn’t without its own headaches from time to time. But, with a solid foundation, a little risk and a little bit of freedom, you and your agency can live happily ever after.