There’s a lot of information available about what clients should look for when selecting a marketing agency. But working with an agency is a two-way street. It takes both sides co-operating to get the best results and build a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship.
Here’s our list of key things that make for great agency-client relationships:
1. Think of your marketing agency as a partner
Agencies thrive on partnerships built on trust, collaboration, and mutual respect. They love to be challenged, but also need permission to challenge the client as well. This environment gives them the freedom to be creative, take calculated risks, and use their experience to provide a complete solution to the problem. If you view your current agency as a vendor who simply takes orders and does your bidding, you’re missing out on a lot of value.
2. Be careful about prescribing your own solution
Don’t be too quick to assume that you need X or Y to solve your problem. Sometimes you may be right, but in other cases the problem may be much deeper, or may come from a different area altogether. Your agency can provide you with a valuable outside perspective and help you uncover what’s really going on. Sometimes the solution may not be working with an agency at all.
For this reason, the best agencies interview clients thoroughly at the outset of the relationship. Make sure to participate fully in this process to get the most out of the relationship. Be open and honest about your current situation, goals and expectations. Non-disclosures can always be signed if needed. The more information your agency has about your situation, the better solution they can provide.
3. Be willing to take risks
If you’ve been doing things a certain way for a long time, it can be difficult to change. But the greatest achievements in history never came from the tried-and-true methods of yesterday, did they?
In the course of working with an agency, you may very well be presented with solutions that you didn’t expect. Sometimes even against your direct instructions! Before you chalk this up to insubordination or incompetency, take some time to listen to the agency’s case for the solution. It could just be the hammer that breaks the glass ceiling.
4. Let them do what they’re good at
Once a plan of action has been determined, get out of the way and let the agency do what they’re best at. Of course this doesn’t mean you should hide in a hole, after all, the most successful projects involve a lot of collaboration. But avoid the temptation of micro-managing the design process or revising their entire media plan. After all, if you’re telling them how to design things, what color to use, how big the logo should be, or what media to use… you might as well do the job yourself.
Here’s a hilarious video illustrating this concept:
5. Pay your bills on time
I know, I know. Everybody hates paying the bill. But it has to be mentioned. Being late with paying your bills is probably the easiest and fastest way to see a great agency relationship go down the tubes. It’s a fact that agencies will usually work harder and put in more hours for clients who pay their bills promptly. So if you haven’t been paying your bills on time and are wondering why you’re not getting the same care and attention you used to… It might be time to deal with some of those old invoices under the piles of paper on your desk.