Published - 2nd June 2021
How do you view your agency? Are they ‘just a supplier’ to call on as and when you need them? Or are they an extension of your in-house team that works closely with you and your business on a daily basis? In many ways, the level of service a marketing agency can offer is less about how much you spend with them on campaigns and fees, and more about how much you invest with them in terms of time and trust. At least that’s what we think, and that’s exactly how we like to work.
Creating a positive and collaborative culture with your agency is essential and can be the start of a beautiful relationship. So how can you and your agency live happily ever after? Here are just a few ideas based on our experiences over the last 35 years…
It may sound obvious but communication is the secret to any successful relationship and keeping in regular contact is a must. We offer all our clients regular face-to-face meetings, the frequency of which depends on what they prefer and where they are based but even before the pandemic hit, we’ve always been flexible in our approach to staying in touch. Weekly or bi-weekly scheduled phone calls, virtual meetings, even WhatsApp groups; we’re always fully contactable and ready to talk. Email is great but it’s not where a conversation can really flow and this can be a barrier to creative thought – it’s much better to chat, ask questions, brain storm or trouble shoot. And if this can all be done over a nice cup of tea then all the better.
It’s not just about developing a positive working relationship with each other but it’s an important part of making sure that any external marketing messages are relevant and appropriate to what is going on behind the scenes. We’ve all seen tone deaf communications appearing both in the press and on social media because a marketing agency’s brief has become so disconnected with the reality of how a business is currently operating, and this is something to be avoided at all costs. Keep in touch and keep your agency up to speed – that’s how you make sure your marketing activity is proactive, relevant and ultimately, worth your financial investment.
As well as keeping in regular contact with your marketing agency, it’s important to keep them close in terms of understanding your business and the challenges you may be facing. An agency will always need a detailed brief to be able to create a marketing campaign but the secret to creating a really successful one is context. What are you doing well, what are the areas that need to be improved? How does marketing fit in with your wider business plans and most importantly, how does your customer really see you? No self-respecting agency is interested in ‘spin’ or misinformation so if you need help to rectify a problem with your brand’s reputation, then tell us exactly what the problem is.
Crisis PR is a service that we offer and one that over the last 12 months at least, has been highlighted as one of our key skills. No agency should be briefed about a potential crisis on the day the story breaks so keep in mind the benefits of keeping your agency close. Don’t forget non-disclosure agreements are available for those more delicate projects that you may be working on but which may benefit from early input and guidance from your agency. We’ve been working with some of our clients for over twenty years and just like communication, without trust, your agency can never deliver the level of service that will make the most difference to your business.
Communication is required from day one but trust is something that your agency needs to earn. If you’re a business that may have had a bad marketing experience in the past, you may not know how to best approach this.
Holding your agency to a high standard is a good place to start. Set goals, objectives and key performance indicators, request monthly reports and quarterly reviews but most importantly, trust your instincts. If your agency isn’t as passionate about your campaign as you are, if they are hard to reach when you need them or if they just don’t seem to ‘get’ your business or your customer profile, then it could be that it’s time to move on. There are plenty of agencies to choose from but partnering with a marketing company with a proven track record of working in your sector is often a way of reducing the learning curve and tapping into their creativity, knowledge and expertise. You should always get as much back from your marketing brief to your agency as you put in.
Whether you’re looking for a long-term relationship or a brief engagement to launch a new product, service or just take your business to the next level, the duration of your contract with an agency is often much less important than the results. So, the next time you’re on the search for a new marketing partner, consider what kind of client you want to be as well as what you need from them. When everyone is on the same page, it’s much easier to get that happy ending.