There are a number of marketing and creative agencies out there that may be able to help you achieve your business goals. You can review their background, capabilities, experience, and even specialized areas. But as a client, what should you ultimately expect from your agency?
A good agency is going to look at your relationship as a partnership. Ideally you should see them as an extension of your team, and include them in relevant communications and meetings so they can leverage the new information you’d share internally. A good agency partner should ask questions and politely push back on client requests if the agency believes it may not be in your best interests. Ultimately it is your decision, but an agency should provide rationale for their recommendations and help provide the insights and considerations to make the decision.
An agency should be good stewards of your funds, your reputation, your time, and your trust. They should look for efficiencies and cost savings and negotiate better pricing on your behalf when possible. They should produce quality work you’d be proud to share with your customers and your leadership. An agency should be respectful of your time (start and end meetings on time) and be trusted with confidential information that could impact how they execute their duties.
This includes thinking innovatively, monitoring trends, optimizing campaigns, and considering the longer-term vision for your company. A strong agency will be up-to-date on the latest news related to your industry or the marketing industry and consider the potential impact it could have on your marketing plan. They should be regularly reviewing results from past efforts and adjusting future plans accordingly to maximize successes. Agency team members should be considering risk appropriately, including proactive mitigation measures and reactive plans if that risk were to occur. And while it may seem like an agency is “fishing” for their next project, asking questions about your long-term goals and future plans can directly impact how current projects are being executed.
Keep You Informed
Communication is key, and your agency should be responsive to your communications and keep you aware of the latest activity on your projects. Your agency team should be the experts on your project who can explain their efforts and requests in simple terms, or educate you about project particulars as needed. There should rarely be surprises: the agency should proactively communicate with you when they identify potential challenges or encounter risks that could impact the end result of the project.
Whether it’s meeting a deadline, delivering a print item on time, or having action items completed from the last meeting, your agency should be fulfilling its commitments to you. Of course, this also means you as a client need to uphold your commitments (providing reviews, communicating information, etc.) to allow the agency to fulfill their expectations. Always remember the agency will need time to review and action your feedback, so be sure to adhere to the timelines the agency has provided if you still expect your deliverables on the same timeline. It’s also important to note the difference between a goal and a commitment.
While you may have a goal of a certain number of subscribers, for example, or a certain amount in sales, a marketing agency should never guarantee results. An agency can absolutely provide projections and expectations based on past experience, but since every client is different and each client may choose a different path than what’s recommended, it is impossible to state with certainty what results will be achieved.
Measurement and Results
Finally, you’ve hired an agency to help you, and they should be able to generate regular reports to share the progress and impact of the agency’s work. Prior to executing the project, a measurement and reporting plan should be identified and confirmed. Using dashboards or monthly/quarterly update meetings, the agency should communicate the ongoing results of their efforts at a high level. While selecting an agency may be a challenge, no matter which vendor you select, the agency should serve as a trusted, proactive, knowledgeable partner who wants to see your project succeed just as much as you do.