Finding the right agency can be a monumental task. With so many options, it can seemingly take forever to sift through them all and find the right one. However, the long nights, tons of questions and multiple meetings are well worth it. Partnering with the right agency can make a significant difference for your brand and push it far ahead of the competition.
After finally signing a contract with an agency, many may want to take a well-deserved break. That can be fine for a brief period, but don’t rest on your laurels for too long. The process of finding the right one might be over, but the relationship between you and your agency is just beginning. Getting the most out of a new partnership with an agency isn’t a one-way street but takes work on your part. Just like starting a new personal relationship, the more effort you put in, the better the results.
All of this might sound a bit daunting, but the good news is the right agency is just as interested in making the new partnership work. With the right tactics and strategies, making the pairing an effective one doesn’t have to be a frustrating or labor-intensive process. And many of these suggestions will help your company internally as well. Let’s take a look at our seven top tips for effectively interacting with a new agency.
AVOID COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWNS
Communication is the bedrock of any relationship, and the same is true of working with an advertising agency. To be an effective team, communication needs to be open, frequent and multi-directional. You wouldn’t want to work with an agency that takes forever to respond to emails or ignores requests. The flipside of that is also true. Many hire an agency because they are swamped and might not have the internal bandwidth to handle everything. But being hard to get ahold of or taking forever to respond to your agency’s requests is just as frustrating as them not responding to you. Lack of or slow communication can be one of the most significant detriments to the effectiveness of an agency as it slows them down or makes completing tasks impossible.
HAVE A CLEAR VISION
No leader in their right mind would try to lead a business without an idea of where to take it. Doing so results in a never-ending mess of constantly putting out fires, short-term reactionary goals and very few actual accomplishments. Bringing an agency into this situation won’t magically solve all these problems. For an effective long-term relationship with an agency that adds value, it is crucial to have a clear vision for your company. Without one or an ever-changing one, an agency will have difficulty figuring out what you want to accomplish and most likely fail.
It is okay if your strategic vision isn’t 100% polished. A competent agency will help you refine it and set goals for achieving it. But it is important to bring something to the table, so it is your vision and not just the agency’s. Crafting that vision is critical for your company’s long-term success and getting you and your agency on the same page working towards the same goals. This articlefrom Inc.com is an excellent read for developing a vision for your brand.
PREVENT ROADBLOCKS FROM HAPPENING
Ideally, working with a marketing agency is a unique collaboration of two teams working together. But this can sometimes devolve into an adversarial relationship with your internal team working more against an agency than with it. Preventing this confrontational stance from occurring is crucial as it can be hard to unwind once it develops.
Explaining to your internal team why you are hiring an agency is a crucial step to eliminating possible friction. Employees with similar responsibilities to an agency, such as creative and marketing teams, may feel that their jobs are being threatened. Or they may perceive that their work is not satisfactory. Telling your employees that an agency is there to help them and not replace them can go a long way. They should be excited at the prospect of working with an agency to help push the company forward. Fostering that sense of excitement and teamwork for your internal team is up to you.
CREATE INTERNAL ACCOUNTABILITY
One roadblock that often develops is having no one internally accountable for interacting with an advertising agency. The result is that the newly hired agency gets treated more like a rental car than a valuable asset. With its request and needs ignored or slow rolled, the agency has difficulty accomplishing anything. And the money you are spending as a business owner for an agency’s help is being wasted by lower-level employees.
The best way to prevent this scenario is to assign a trusted team member as the point person for all agency interactions and accomplishments. This person also needs to be held accountable if responses to agency emails, requests for assets and other communications start falling through the cracks. If you successfully instilled a sense of teamwork and excitement in your team, having to hold someone accountable will be less of an issue. But it is still essential to have someone own the process of dealing with an external agency to keep things running smoothly. For ideas on creating a culture of accountability in the workspace, check out this article.
TRUST YOUR AGENCY
Relinquishing a bit of control and trusting a digital marketing agency to manage vital aspects of your business can be challenging for some. The desire to manage everything can be strong and lead you to doubt every decision an agency makes. There is nothing wrong with having questions, but you also must trust your agency and empower it to make the right decisions. You hired a competent agency because its team possesses knowledge and expertise that you don’t have. If you don’t take advantage of that, are always dismissing new ideas, constantly undercutting your agency or significantly altering their plans, you are basically wasting your money. Trust the process, and you will see results that get even better over time.
AVOID LAST MINUTE MAYHEM
Agencies are great at unlocking your company’s full potential, but they aren’t magicians. A marketing agency needs time to prepare to properly execute an event, video shoot, product launch or other major undertakings. Last-minute items occasionally pop up, but constantly dropping 11th-hour requests or nick-of-time direction changes will frustrate any agency.
Some mistakenly might not care about frustrating an agency because they are paying for their services. But anyone should care about the quality of an agency’s work. The more time you can give an agency, the better the results. And that benefits not just the agency, but you as the client. Ensure that your internal team is organized, effectively communicating with each other and giving an agency the time it needs to do its best work.
FOCUS ON BUILDING A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP
We promise this isn’t a relationship advice column, but there are a lot of similarities in what works for both personal and business relationships. If you don’t put much effort into any relationship, don’t expect to get much out of it. And a long-term relationship is always going to be more rewarding than a short-term one. The same is true of working with an agency.
Marketers hyper-focused on maximizing ROI for a specific project might employ an agency for a brief period. But doing so limits a relationship with an agency to being more transactional than collaborative. Often the focus is on simply completing a project than doing something that makes an actual difference to a brand and its bottom line. Viewing an agency as nothing more than another vendor or a hired gun is a mistake and a short-term mindset that usually leads to just checking a box.
Forging a solid long-term partnership with the right agency will always lead to better results. The relationship becomes more collaborative, an agency is more invested in your business, gets to know your brand better, and deeper trust develops over time. Yes, it might be more expensive, but marketing is an investment in your brand and company’s future, not just an expense.
At Kahn Media, we have multiple clients that have been with us for years because we have become their trusted partners. Our focus is always long-term as it allows us to do our best collaborative work for our clients that produces results. Reach out to us to help build your brand and start a long-term relationship.