So, you’ve started working with a new marketing agency. Awesome! (If you haven’t yet, check out our post on the top 5 smart reasons to outsource your digital marketing.) You’ve put a lot of time and thought into finding the right agency, but you’re just not sure where to start. You’re not alone. Working with an agency is often a necessity for growth, and like any other relationship, it takes work on both parts to make that happen.
We’ve talked to a number of clients that have had awful experiences with agencies in the past, leaving them to fear the idea of entering into yet another partnership. However, by laying the appropriate groundwork and setting reasonable expectations, you can experience a long-lasting agency relationship that yields great work and great results. Our team brainstormed our best tips for successfully working with an agency like Carve Digital. Let’s dig in.
Develop a vision together
Agencies work best when you can give them your business goals and work backward, versus handing them a one-off project. Yes, you may want to get a new pitch deck designed, but the driving reason behind that need is the real objective. Are you trying to attract new customers? Growing your partner network? The one-off project is merely a means to an end. If you’ve hired an agency to help you with the deliverable, trust them to help you with the bigger picture.
Remember your goals
Speaking of business goals, there are a lot of marketing activities that can keep you and your agency “busy.” Trying to do everything at once is a recipe for failure. Be sure to align your organizational, sales, and marketing goals to ensure everyone is traveling down the same path. Take the time to evaluate your goals and adjust as needed. That being said, don’t shift direction everytime the wind blows. Doing so leads to confusion, delays in executing deliverables, and frustration on behalf of both parties.
Allow time for change
It’s rare for a client to come on board with us and have all the foundational elements they need to execute marketing strategies. When it’s time to put those tools in place to manage your marketing initiatives, be prepared to wait while these things get deployed and customized. We would love to flip a switch and have all of your CRM, automation tools, web forms, social sites, and email templates “automagically” integrated overnight, but unfortunately, those things take time to deploy properly. Trust us, setting your marketing tools up correctly from the beginning will be well worth it in the long run.
Keep everyone in the loop
No, this doesn’t mean you need to cc: your entire team or have 12 people on a check-in call. It does, however, mean that communication must flow both ways. Your marketing agency can only work with what they know. This means if you are making changes to your brand, updating the website, or shifting gears on your go-to-market strategy – you need to let them know. Otherwise, you end up with marketing materials and messages that are either confusing to the audience or will soon be outdated. Keeping everyone in the loop is easy if you plan for a quarterly call to update all stakeholders and agree on the plan for the upcoming quarter.
It’s pretty common for our clients to lament about how busy they are. We get it. That’s why you hired an agency to handle your marketing needs. However, it’s important to make time to answer questions, proof designs, and review deliverables if you want things to run smoothly. Most agencies live and breathe by project management tools like Asana or Teamwork, so when you cancel a meeting, take two weeks to review a document, or “ghost” your agency on email, it’s hard for them to keep up their end of the timeline. We’ve found that setting a recurring call, either weekly or bi-weekly, helps keep everyone accountable and communicating so those project deliverables are delivered and approved in a timely fashion.
Attitude is everything
In marketing, as with almost everything else in life, things don’t always go perfectly. There are times when even the best planning, design, and content can fall flat. Webinars can go wrong. Partner events can go unattended. There are simply things that can not be controlled. As you embark on the journey of working with an agency, remember that old saying you heard from your grandma – you catch more flies with honey. Rather than engaging in a match of the blame game, talk to your agency partner and see if you can identify where things can be improved. Work with them to resolve the issues, lick your wounds, and move on with life. Dwelling on the one thing that didn’t hit the target often means we’re not looking at the things that are actually moving the needle for your business.
There you have it! Partnering with a marketing agency can be an extremely valuable strategy for your business. Just make sure you are coming to the table prepared to be a part of the team. Develop the vision together, remember your goals, allow time for change, keep everyone in the loop, be available, and have a good attitude. If you do these things, everything else is a piece of cake!