28th June 2017
How to Get the Most out of Your Agency
How to Get the Most out of Your Agency
As an agency we are lucky enough to work on an exceptionally wide range of projects for an extremely varied client base. One of the great things about working in this environment is having the opportunity to collaborate with some really amazing people. Being both inspired by and challenged by our clients and having a positive working relationship creates the perfect setting for us to be able to give them our best.
When it comes to working with agencies, what you put in drives what you get out. But all too often businesses end up not getting the most from their agency because they don’t understand how they work or what they need in order to deliver a project. Here’s how to get the absolute best out of your agency and the biggest bang for your buck from your marketing budget.
Any agency worth their salt will ask a prospective client about their strategy, objectives and project KPIs in the first meeting so make sure you go in prepared. Even if the project remit includes strategy development agencies work to objectives so it's fundamental that you know the outcome you’re looking for. Do some preparatory work before you go and being ultra-clear about what you need.
Make the decision maker available
Often an agency will be briefed by and build a relationship with a client team member only to find that they aren’t the decision maker. In this scenario the project will progress so far only to be blown out of the water by the decision maker at sign off. Not only is this confusing and frustrating for both the agency and the client but it can have serious ramifications on both deadlines and budget. It is fundamental that the client decision maker is available at the briefing stage and is involved in all key project meetings.
Communicate communicate communicate
A good agency will do its best to stop communication issues before they arise by asking questions, getting clarification and ensuring the project is well documented. You can help by communicating clearly, early, and often. It may feel like you’re bombarding them with information but the more your agency knows you, your business and your thinking the better they will be able to deliver upon your objectives. Free, open and transparent communication reduces the risk of misunderstandings so keep the channels of communication ever open.
Have a written brief and be clear on scope
Without a focused, written brief that outlines exactly what you want you're unlikely to get the best our of your agency. Whilst it’s the agencies role to provide insight and expertise and to devise the overall solution their proposal will be based on the information which they are given. Solutions are devised based on the project requirements and if these requirements change the solution may no longer be appropriate. Be clear on the project scope from the beginning and ensure that your requirements are well documented so that your agency can come up with the best overall solution for you.
Share your budget
Many prospective clients are cagey about sharing their budget with their agency, especially in the early stages. Agencies will devise a solution based on a combination of your objectives, the deliverables, timescales and budget so it is important that you clearly communicate how much you are prepared to spend during the briefing stage. If you don’t do this the agency may well propose a scope of works which just isn’t viable, which isn’t good for you or for them.
Content is king
Agency life is fast paced and agency team members work fast and accurately. If you've got your content nailed it will be right first time, if not you will end up in a cycle of endless revisions. It is surprising how many clients supply unapproved draft content which they then change post design; not only is this frustrating for both you and your agency, it can have serious financial consequences if the design has to be changed to match the new content. Content is king and should be a top priority.
Clients are often shocked at the pace at which a professional agency works - they work fast and they work smart. The more responsive you can be, whether it’s providing missing information, supplying assets, or responding to approval and revision requests, the smoother the project will run overall. In order to keep your agency working efficiently, commit to rapid response and feedback.
Glean their expertise
Good agencies aren’t precious and will actively want to share their expertise and insights with their clients. The more an agency can nurture their clients internal team and help them to grow, the more opportunity there is to work together on more projects, which is a win win for both the agency and the client. Working closely with your agency will give you the opportunity to learn and develop your skill set, so look for ways in which you can benefit from knowledge transfer and don’t be shy about asking lots of questions. Having said that you should never become overly reliant on what your agency is telling you. It’s important to build up an understanding of your own so that you can more confidently challenge them on their proposals.
Trust your agency
Handing over the reins to your project isn’t easy but you’ve got to let go and allow your agency the freedom to do their job. When clients try to micro-manage their agency they often end up being disappointed with the final result which has been led by their own subjective opinion rather than what is right for the project. There are always some non-negotiables, such as adhering to brand guidelines or sticking within budgets, but as a general rule you’ll get far more out of your agency if you trust them to let their experience and expertise guide the project.
Good agencies are results driven and will be keen to track and measure the success of every activity and campaign. When you start working with a new agency ensure you benchmark your current position and set goals, objectives and KPIs together. This will allow you to not only track the success of each project but will allow you to gauge whether you’ve achieved what you’ve wanted with them over the time you’ve been working together.
A good agency will be truly invested in you and your business and will always go above and beyond, but it’s important to be realistic with your expectations. As much as they might want to, it's impossible for an agency to deliver top quality, tomorrow, on a minimum budget!
Do you feel like you aren’t getting what you need out of your agency? Feel free to get in touch or drop us a message for an informal chat.