Whether you’re currently working with an agency or considering bringing on an external partner, C/A account supervisor Ben Stone shares what you should be looking for in your partnership.
By Ben Stone
Finding the right digital agency partner to work with on your digital and content marketing needs is more important than ever. Historically, healthy client-agency relationships have been built on successful marketing campaigns and a positive ROI. These factors will forever remain essential — however, as we’ve all seen in 2020, things don’t always go as planned. This got us thinking about what’s truly important in fostering a strong partnership and how both the client and the agency can come out on top, even during a global pandemic.
We’ve created a list of the top 5 things to consider when evaluating your current client-agency partnership or looking for a new content marketing firm.
1. Clear expectations.
Whether you’re beginning a client-agency relationship or starting a new project with a partner you’ve been working with for years, the importance of setting clear expectations upfront cannot be overstated.
Ask the agency what you can expect from your investment, when you’ll see results and how they can ensure they’re staying ahead of the curve. The agency’s job is to provide clear answers to these questions and to establish realistic expectations using research and factual information.
Typically, this Q&A phase begins at the start of a new assignment and should help set the stage for its success. Skipping this important discussion or assuming everyone’s on the same page can lead to unnecessary rework or missed opportunities to deliver results.
2. Direct access to a team of specialists.
In search of both experience and expertise, a company often finds themselves at a large generalist agency. While many imagine that a bigger shop can solve all of their marketing needs, this isn’t always the case. Big agencies usually have a significant division of labor and, depending on the size of your organization, you may not have access to the more senior team members you were promised during the sales pitch.
Further, the traditional agency model of establishing a “single point of contact” and running everything through an account manager often creates bottlenecks and leads to longer response times. Having direct access to your digital and creative leads allows you to convey important nuances directly and allows the agency team to hear about priorities firsthand. For these reasons, it’s critical to find an agency whose structure allows you direct access to your full team.
3. Flexibility and nimbleness.
In addition to following the latest industry trends and adapting your marketing strategy based on performance, it’s just as important for your agency to keep an eye on the market and global environment. As we’ve witnessed during the pandemic, things can shift drastically overnight. It’s imperative for your agency to be able to shift gears and evolve your program so that your years of hard work aren’t lost, and you’re not left wondering what you should do next.
Both clients and agencies should be upfront with one another and feel comfortable asking questions and delivering honest answers. Once it’s go-time and you’re ready to launch a campaign, you should receive all of the results and facts, positive or negative. This isn’t a time for sugarcoating — after all, it’s your budget on the line! If something isn’t performing the way it should be, your agency needs to present their findings, pivot and test something new.
Last but not least, it should never be a pain to work with your agency — these should be people you enjoy talking to on a regular basis and who you believe have your best interests in mind. Don’t be afraid to bring new ideas to the table and test new approaches. Some of the best client-agency experiences come from collaborating together and seeing shared ideas come to life.