If you’re thinking about starting a partnership with a marketing and advertising agency or you’ve just entered into a new partnership, it’s critical to make sure you establish a good working relationship with your agency partner right from the beginning. Trust and mutual shared goals are key to having a strong agency/partner relationship. In our over thirty years as a marketing and advertising agency, we’ve seen first-hand how strong partnerships are built, as well as which pitfalls can strain a relationship between a business and their agency. Today we’re offering our seven top tips for creating a strong, successful working relationship with your agency, right from the first meeting.
The Secret to Successful Partnerships? Sharing.
As you read through our tips, you’ll likely notice that they all center around a common theme—sharing. We cannot overstate the importance of sharing with your marketing partner, especially if your agency is also going to be a thinking partner for you and not just extra hands for added output. Where to start with all your sharing? We’re glad you asked! We recommend starting with sharing your historical data and examples of how you’re currently executing on your strategy. This includes examples of your marketing emails, PR, digital ad assets and more.
At B&Y, we like to start new engagements with a discovery process where we interview employees, stakeholders, distributors, customers and more to really get to know the ins and outs of your business. If you’re the marketing director, you can do a little of this sleuthing on your own, too. Ask your team members what they wish they knew when they started working at your company, ask your distributors and other business partners too, then share this information with your agency.
Tip 1: Set Expectations Around the Partnership
Unmet expectations always cause strife. To get your partnership off on the right foot, state your expectations right up front. This would include any preferred ways to work, how you prefer to communicate (do you like calls or emails better?), and any other ground rules or expectations that you might have regarding your working relationship.
Tip 2: Share Your Budget
Yes, we need to talk about budget. And, in fact, we recommend sharing more than just the amount you’ll be spending with your agency for the year and even sharing your company’s overall marketing budget. We’ve found that this extra context can be helpful for the agency when suggesting tactics for you to employ as it helps give us an idea of the value you place on each tactic as a part of the whole.
Think of this like building a house. There are many different budgets for building a house, and each homeowner has different priorities and goals. You’ll spend more of the budget on features you value and sacrifice a bit on areas of lesser importance to you. The same goes for your marketing. If you want to run a big media campaign and you feel like it could be really fruitful, we’d recommend spending more budget on that versus a task that you need to complete as a routine or “check the box” type request.
Tip 3: Determine a Single Contact Person
A quick and easy tip! Determine who the point of contact if going to be on your side. It really helps the agency if it is clear who the decision maker is on your team. And vice versa, the agency should establish who your dedicated contact is, too. Then the two main contacts can work together to establish how work will flow between them. However, this doesn’t mean that other team members can’t work with your agency! It’s just about ensuring that there is clear ownership over a project.
Tip 4: Have Clear Goals and Objectives
Projects need parameters. As an agency, we live for helping you meet your goals. But we can’t do that if they aren’t clear—or if there aren’t any goals at all. So having a clear goal and objective for each project you undertake is crucial. Because if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, your agency won’t be able to deliver something strategic either.
Tip 5: Know Your Differentiators and What You Stand For
Knowing what you stand for as a brand and what differentiates you in the market are critical to successful marketing initiatives. If you aren’t sure what sets you apart, we’d recommend investing in market research to find out, so you can be sure your marketing efforts have the right message targeted at the right audience. Knowing these two pieces of information about your brand will help your agency’s deliverable be more potent and ensure that it delivers on the goals of your brand.
Tip 6: Share Your Business Model
This is one that you might not have thought of, but it can be helpful to share with your agency the full picture about how your business runs—how it makes money, how day-to-day operations function, and so on. All of the marketing you do should tie back to the business, and the more your agency understands your business, the more successful your output and overall results will be.
Tip 7: Leave Nothing to Doubt
Our final tip is to leave nothing to doubt. Over communicate if you need to, especially at first. It’s always best to not assume the other party knows all the details about your business or initiatives. If you think something might be relevant to your agency—share it! Similarly, be open with your feedback—we don’t take it personally! It only helps us get to know you better, which will lead to better results for you in the future.
Over our three decades in business, we’ve had many fantastic partnerships and we know you can have a great relationship with your agency as well. Just keep the communication channels open and freely flowing back and forth.
Are you looking for a new agency partner? Let’s have a conversation and see if B&Y would be a good fit for you.