Are you not sure how to work with a marketing agency? You’re not alone. As many businesses grow, the need to work with a marketing agency becomes a necessity for growth. But, like anything, doing it right matters.
Hire For Culture
The No. 1 thing that every growing company should look at when they start to work with a marketing agency is the culture of that agency. Do they fit your culture? Are the goals of the agency inline with your business? If not, you might experience a disconnect on some of the core values and missions of the two companies. No amount of skills or awards can make up for this mismatch in the long run.
Hire For Trust
The second thing is trust. Do you trust your agency and, more so, the people you are doing business with? Trust will make or break the project and the results you will achieve with your agency. I’d guess that most bad agency-client relationships go sour on trust in the long run.
Hire For Results
Results are important of course, but not as much as the two previous items. Most agencies will get you the results you need. But your results will go from good to great with the alignment of the culture and trust on the teams.
Tip 1: Focus on the Outcomes, Not the Tactics
Many times, a client will want to focus on the tactics. The problem with this is two fold. First, if you focus on tactics, we inevitably get prescriptive on the tactics themselves. This means you’ll focus on actually doing Facebook marketing, rather than getting results on Facebook marketing. Second, you’ll get too involved in the details of the means and methods, rather than results. You’re hiring an agency so you can get things done, not to have one more thing to manage. If your agency can’t take things off your plate, it’s not a good relationship.
If you focus on outcomes, you give the agency a chance to shine and provide results, not just execute tactics. This will provide both sides of the table the best outcomes and working relationship in the long run.
Tip 2: Keep Communication Open
The most important aspect of your relationship with your agency is how well you communicate. You’ll want to communicate frequently with your agency point-of-contact, so you can provide insight, as well as direction when asked. This can be via email in most cases, but I’d request a phone call weekly, or bi-weekly depending on the nature of the work.
Also, explain the “why” behind your requests and business, so that your agency gets true insight. Every agency will have a kick off process. Ours ranges from 2-4 hours for the initial meeting, and then up to a month of initial research and fact-finding about your industry. Make sure communication is open during that time, as the strategy from this meeting will set the pace for the entire campaign.
Tip 3: Be Flexible on Pricing
This is the hardest tip, but be open to your agency’s need for financing and profit. Agencies will do their best work for their best clients. And the best client is not always the biggest, but the one who fits with them well, communicates well, and isn’t pinching every penny.
You have the full right to accountability and good pricing, and your agency should provide that to you. However, don’t try to squeeze extra things from them if you are not willing to let the cup overflow for them once in a while.
Tip 4: Set Your Expectations Early
Waiting until the last meeting to discuss your preference for in-person, over phone call meetings is a bit too late. Setting your expectations about the relationship is important in any consultative relationship.
Be sure to explain how you best work, your communication preferences, your meeting preferences, the time you plan to spend. You can even take this as far as talking about what kind of person you’d like to be your account contact so you have a good match. You might want to talk to someone who understands data more, or someone who is very up-beat because your job is full of not-so-upbeat people. Having your expectations met is important to the agency as much as it is for you.
Tip 5: Build In the Difficult Conversations
Make sure in your contract there is ample “review” time. If you only have annual account reviews, that might work for you, but we’d suggest having periodic feedback times where the high ups at the agency are involved to review the account performance and challenges that you are facing. It’s good to have that already in place so you don’t have to wait until it goes really bad before having the difficult conversation. Having it monthly, or quarterly, can allow you to have conversations that speak about big issues before they become big.