There are huge variations of how marketing managers use their agencies. For some we are partners, involved in marketing decisions at all levels and used throughout the year, for others we might just be just be brought in for a campaign concept or new website and only be involved two months of the year.
I have worked across a host of different levels of client involvement and it’s been my perception that clients have always been happiest with the work and gotten the most value when the agency has been involved at all levels of the process. The best work is based on mutual understanding of objectives based on a foundation of clear honest two-way communication. Even if you are only going to use an agency for a one-off project there are some simple things you can share to get the most value from your agency.
Here are a few things you can share to get the most from your agency:
1. Your business’s objectives
Your agency can often suggest new ways marketing can help accomplish those goals. Targeting a new region or market segment? Looking to get more value from your existing customers? Launching a new product? You might only intend to get your agency involved in one but a holistic understanding will go a long way to getting the best recommendations from your agency.
2. Your budget
There is an understandable reluctance to share your true budget with your agency, after all they will want to spend it! But a true budget will hugely impact the activity and creative they recommend. It shouldn’t be a case of spending for spending’s sake but quality of channel and creative. The freedom to see the best possible creative and channels available to you will be critical to making good judgements. At the same time not specifying a budget only to have the agency present something way out of your price range might put you off doing anything at all but that’s not to say there isn’t something effective you could be doing with your money.
You can always gauge how much you’re getting for your money and control where you want to be spending it. Sharing a number doesn’t commit you to spending it!
3. Your opinions
If you don’t like something, say so. The agency wants your honest feedback to know what suits the organisation and the market. We can make informed judgements about what will be effective and stylish but we want to hear what you think to get it right. You work in the industry full time and have experiences of what works well to draw upon which will also help us to get it bang on.
4. Your priorities
Visibility of your activity and deadlines allows the agency to prioritise your most critical requirements. There may also be unseen set up time required so that project you thought would only take three weeks may take six or longer. Usually an agency can always get it done but we will always spend as much time on your projects as possible, a rushed job gives us less time to give you the best possible outcome and get feedback from yourselves.
Agencies can be most valuable as an informed resource; agency staff work across numerous clients, working in diverse markets, in a host of different capacities. This broad spectrum of experience is invaluable for drawing upon and we are happy to be called upon. However the best agencies will want a vision beyond the immediate project in hand. What is it all driving towards? What purpose does it serve? These understandings allow the agency to deliver the work you need and also proactively consider additional activity. An agency may also dissuade you from doing something if they think it would not be the best way to accomplish your goals.
An agency isn’t like most businesses in that it isn’t a simple money/service exchange, when you take on an agency it’s a partnership. Your success is their success, and as with all good relationships communication is the cornerstone.