Working with a marketing agency should ideally feel like you’re working with an extension of your team, rather than merely a vendor. Here are some tips on how you can get the most out of your relationship with a marketing agency.
Think in terms of goals, rather than projects. Start your conversation with your marketing agency by explaining your overall marketing goals, even if you’re only coming to them for a one-off project. When your agency understands the bigger picture, they’ll do a better job for you.
Have an idea of what you want, but be open to your agency’s ideas. Good agencies do marketing for a wide variety of clients, and work to stay abreast of marketing trends. Their goal is to meet your marketing goals, and their expertise can help you get there. Maybe you’re thinking about digital advertising but aren’t sure what kind, for example — your agency will be able to make recommendations on which digital media are most likely to bring results.
Develop a group of assets for marketing use. If you don’t have a high-resolution version of your logo, or good photography of your business, services, products, or staff, it’s difficult for your agency to design materials that sell what you do. Consider investing in professional photography that can be used across a range of projects. If you can’t provide a high-resolution, vector version of your logo, have your agency reset it for you (and maybe it’s time for a design refresh, too). Keep these assets in a centralized location so that high-resolution images and other assets don’t get copied over.
Be open about your budget and what you’re expecting to spend – on both creative projects and on paid media. It takes time and energy for agencies to quote creative projects – talking to them to see what’s realistic within your budget before you ask for a formal quote is a better use of everyone’s time. Credible agencies want to work within your budget to meet your goals and are not looking to gouge you. This is also true when you’re asking for a paid media plan. Knowing what you want to spend will help your agency make better choices for you and do a better job overall.
Have your content and your website information together. The single thing that most frequently delays completion of projects, especially websites, is that the content isn’t ready. The longer a project drags out, the more expensive it can become. So if you are providing the content, rather than hiring the agency to write it, make sure you’re ready to give it to them. Similarly, know where your site is hosted and where your domain is registered, and be prepared to give that information to the agency before the project kicks off (if you don’t have it, your agency can figure it out – but it’s much faster if they don’t have to).
Limit the number of people who need to approve. This can be difficult, depending on the structure of your organization, but limiting the number of people who need to approve results in not only a more efficient design process, but often a better final project as well. Your agency wants to please your entire team, but the old adage of “too many cooks spoil the broth” holds true – often the end result of incorporating too many people’s opinions is a design that doesn’t work, and that nobody likes. If multiple people must be involved, develop a hierarchy and let your agency know whose opinions should carry more weight – do not leave your agency in the position of having to adjudicate differences of opinion among them.
Tell your agency what you don’t like about a design or project, and be open on ways to fix it. Your agency has more expertise in design and web development than you do. By all means, let them know what you don’t like, and even your idea on how to fix it – but know that they might have an even better idea.
Ask plenty of questions if you’re not sure about the direction of a project. If you have concerns about a project, express them as early as you can so you and your agency can come to an understanding and change direction if needed. You don’t want the agency to get too far down the road with a project you don’t like. If you keep finding yourself in this position, you and your agency may not be well-matched.
If you regularly need an agency’s help, consider entering into a retainer agreement. Retainer agreements generally mean your agency will prioritize your work over all other projects, and the agency will become a full-fledged member of your team. What’s more, retainer agreements give your agency the opportunity to get to know you and your business well. That means the agency will make better-informed recommendations, will work faster for you because they know what you like, can anticipate needs, and can work to keep your overall marketing program on track.