How to get the most out of your marketing agency relationship

No matter how good a marketing agency is, its ability to “deliver the goods” when it comes to a successful marketing campaign is not guaranteed. Technical and creative talent needs feeding with good information and clear direction as a minimum, and that responsibility lies at the feet of both the client and the relationship manager on the agency side. So if you’re a business that relies on agencies and you’re finding that they’re not quite delivering what you expected, here’s a few things to think about before throwing in the towel.

The briefing

Agencies require a comprehensive brief for each campaign and for best results, you should spend time talking through the brief in detail to ensure clarity of vision. This also provides an opportunity for any questions about your brief to be answered. Time invested now equals time and money saved later on.

Expecting a ‘yes’ at all costs

Recently we received an enquiry from a new potential customer. He was scathing about the previous agencies he’d worked with saying that they had promised him everything and delivered nothing. He’d worked his way through 3 agencies and spent £30k and so he had every right to be angry. In his enquiry, he demanded to be told whether we were capable of delivering or not. If we weren’t we should tell him right away and not waste his money.

After researching his company, his website and general online presence, we concluded that major improvements would be needed to his website, his various landing pages and his social media presence before we would consider running any campaigns on his behalf. We weren’t being pig-headed, we simply knew that without it, we would not be able to deliver results and we knew that this was where the other agencies had fallen down. The potential client, unable to accept that this was the reason his campaigns had failed so far, decided that we were not the agency for him and he moved on to search for a new agency that would just run his campaigns regardless and make them magically work. It’s very likely, that this decision will cost him yet more money in the months to come.

A good marketing agency is not one that will say ‘yes’ all of the time. A good agency will care more about the delivery of results and their reputation above making a quick buck. After all – if an agency delivers results, a client is likely to use them long term and is more likely to recommend them. It makes financial sense. It’s important then, as a client to encourage pushback from your agency on your projects. If something is not right or unlikely to work, wouldn’t you rather know now, before you invest time, effort and money? The alternative isn’t productive for anyone on either side of the relationship.

The results

There is often a mismatch between clients’ expectations of what a campaign can achieve and what a marketing agency believes can be delivered but it’s rarely discussed at the beginning of a project. It’s that white elephant in the room. Clients don’t want to sound foolish by asking how many leads / sales / website hits they’re going to get just in case it’s impossible to predict. There’s also that odd British mentality that it’s rude to ask such a tricky and direct question. Agencies on the other hand, often avoid the discussion because it lures them into a discussion which a client might take as a commitment to a specific result. It’s important then, to bite the bullet and set expectations (client) and manage expectations (agency) at the very beginning. Expectations on both sides need to be aligned before any work begins otherwise the project will be doomed from the start.

The communication super-highway

Good communication isn’t just essential at the beginning of a campaign. It’s important to maintain the momentum throughout. Short-term, high intensity campaigns require daily communication, whilst mid-long-term, lower intensity project may be ok with just weekly, or even monthly catch-ups.

These catch-ups are perfect for your marketing agency to provide you with an update on the progress of the campaign, but they’re also an important platform for you to provide feedback of the campaign from your perspective. Are you happy with it? Are you noticing an impact? Are there changes / improvements you would like to make? Are there niggling doubts you need quashed?

There’s a wider aspect to the need for good communication too. Here at businesshands, we have a number of long-term clients who trust us implicitly to run almost all of the marketing activities for them without intervention.  What we find particularly useful in this kind of relationship, is to receive regular updates about the company, the highs, the lows, the successes, the challenges and any changes in direction the company might be taking. It helps us to understand our clients better and puts us in their shoes, enabling us to deliver a more accurate representation of their brand. Without this, we simply would not be able to provide a quality service.

Of course, there’s many more ways the relationship can be improved between you and your marketing agency, but those above will get you off to a good start. Sometimes however, no matter what you try – the relationship just isn’t right and in those situations, its best to part company quickly and move on to pastures new. In those circumstances, we hope you’ll make us here at businesshands your next stop.