In the marketing world, there are many kinds of partnerships, but we think the most important one is the partnership you have with an outside agency. Whether you outgrow your internal marketing resources or are just looking to bring more strategy to the mix, vetting the right agency is a critically important first step. But once that’s done, how will you move forward with confidence that you’ll get the most from your new partner? Like everything, there can be a big difference between doing something – and doing it well.
As an agency who prides itself on the collaborative relationships we have with our clients, we’d like to offer a few suggestions that work for us in bringing partnerships to the next level. Not only do stronger partnerships improve your working relationship and help you avoid miscommunication, they have a hugely positive impact on the work itself. Here are a few tips to follow starting now.
Start with clearly defined goals
Before you get to work, a clear and concise framework should always be established between you and the agency. Initial discovery sessions between the two of you should help clarify what your desired level of involvement will be. The agency should also be working closely with you to spell out what the work specifically needs to achieve, as well as what problems it needs to solve. Not only this, but the agency should take time to become familiar with your industry, so as to make sure how the work is positioned, is unique from your competitors. All of these findings should all be captured in the resulting creative brief. The more your agency knows your brand’s goals and challenges, the better the creative brief will be. In this area, the more information, the better.
Keep an open line of communication
The thing about partnerships is that they take two (or more) to really work. If the lines of communication go quiet the work could suffer – or worse, could come to a grinding halt. We are big fans of weekly or biweekly calls between agency and client to review the work in progress and track that resources are being spent as efficiently as possible. Routine calls and communication allow you to share challenges you face internally that might delay work, and vice versa. The time between client and agency will take up some time from week to week–but it is invaluable.
Refine, tweak, refine some more
Once the work has been delivered and launched, the client-agency relationship shouldn’t stop. Digital metrics and A/B testing make continuous improvement possible on a daily basis. Small tweaks and refinement can be made throughout a campaign to ensure you aren’t just hitting the KPIs you established upfront, but surpassing them. At the end of the campaign, you’ll want to take time to fully understand what, where and how your audience engaged. Your agency may be able to provide insights that can inform future strategy, and nothing feels better than heading into the next project with cold, hard facts. Reporting, recap documents, workbooks of the deliverables and/or debriefing meetings after-the-fact can be invaluable for all parties.
At the end of the day, the agency should do everything in their power to make you look good because when you succeed, they succeed. Whether you need support selling something up the flagpole, or routing work through a regulatory review, these gestures speak volumes and lead to a sustainable partnership. Nothing makes us more proud than when our client gets the results, attention, sometimes even awards from our work together. That’s what we call a win-win.