The old adage “you get what you give” applies to your relationship with your marketing agency just as much as it does in your personal relationships. The best work comes out of an open, trusting partnership where both sides feel they have what they need to succeed as a team. We’ve talked a little bit about this in the past, but given how often the topic comes up, it seemed time to discuss it further. This time diving a little deeper into what, specifically, clients bring to the relationship. It’s a question that comes up more often than you might realize: “What is expected of me as we work together?”
The world of marketing has become vast and complex. The B2B marketing space, in particular, is seemingly filled with abstract ideas where success can only be measured by abstract results. This can create an uncertain environment. A positive relationship can mitigate some of this uncertainty. While any agency’s job is to brainstorm and apply ideas and new strategies to your marketing, a great agency team understands each tactic should still remain in line with your company’s business objectives. Taking the time to communicate these objectives and expectations will help your agency create better work. Of course, the agency’s job is to know and understand your brand, but setting clear goals will prevent them from running in the wrong direction.
Along with communicating business objectives and setting expectations, it will help an agency to know how far they can push the boundaries and take risks in your marketing. In the same way your financial planner needs to understand your personal tolerance for risk, you can help your agency understand your brand’s tolerance for risk in favor of greater rewards. A good agency that understands your goals isn’t going to be reckless and it’s likely they’ll have the expertise to determine what risks are appropriate. However, talking to your agency about how comfortable your brand may be when it comes to pushing the limits will help them prioritize where they can take risks. This will also help manage your internal team’s expectations, because not every risk will produce the hoped for results.
Your agency is here to work for you. It’s expected that your internal team will challenge and push them to produce better work, faster, but many brands don’t realize they can help facilitate this better, faster work. It can be incredibly beneficial to take the time to sit down with your agency and design a plan for the fiscal year. Having this tentative plan allows the agency experts to step back, categorize projects, prioritize efforts, and maximize your budget. Before any individual project, your agency should be building briefs and individual estimates, but planning each of these projects from a higher level on an annual basis often leads to more efficient and strategic outcomes.
Like any person in any job, people want to know how they’re performing. From time to time a project may fall short of expectations, but a good agency partner wants to learn from and improve upon each project. So, it’s vital to work alongside the agency to make changes necessary to ensure the work meets your expectations. On the flip side, when you’re pleased with a project, expressing this to your agency will give them an even better understanding of what works well.
No one knows your company better than you. But, no one knows marketing better than your agency should. It is your company’s job to ensure that your vision and business objectives are understood and met. It is the agency’s job to provide work that moves this vision forward. They do this through a deep understanding of marketing strategy, expert tactics, and masterful creative. Your company needs to trust this understanding and know the work an agency provides is evaluated and scrutinized to ensure it aligns with your brand and supports your goals.
No relationship is perfect and no relationship is the same. There are often adjustment periods when getting into a new relationship, but the more open you can be from the beginning, the better the outcomes will be. Communicating honestly with your agency to figure out what works best for your brand is the best way to create a mutually beneficial relationship that leads to successful work.