It’s a brand new year. Budgets are being reviewed, new marketing strategies and so is business performance in many companies. Often this is also the time when agencies’ effectiveness is being evaluated as well.
In some companies it’s part of the procurement cycle that any new projects have to be put out for tender in regular intervals. This can be a pretty time consuming undergoing, particularly if you don’t have a dedicated procurement team in place. Therefore those who aren’t obliged to change their suppliers on a frequently basis, might just need to review the past year and see how they could improve the relationship with their current agency.
Enhancing the client-agency relationship can be very simple and save you a ton of time and effort. Don’t overlook these and check whether you can help improve agency productivity by following some of my tips below.
Encourage cross-agency collaboration & briefs
You may have a few agencies in place and as marketing disciplines evolve, so do the boundaries within them. This means social media could be part of your SEO agency, as much as it could be on your PR agency’s agenda. This doesn’t need to be counterproductive in the slightest, as both agencies might have different goals and strategies, which will need to be communicated to each other. This doesn’t need to be via a long meeting with all parties involved. Often a quick conference call between the agencies alone can suffice. Therefore it is important that both agencies communicate their actions to each other.
Action for you: Introduce the project managers of both agencies and so they can arrange a quick catch up call between them to go over their respective strategies. I would suggest a quarterly status meeting with all agencies in order to encourage collaboration and ensure everyone is aware of the plans for the next quarter.
Keep in touch with your agency
We are all busy and our roles seem to be growing in terms of responsibilities on a daily basis. Probably for that reason you brought on an agency to help lighten the load, bring in specialist expertise and improve your marketing activities. But even well established agencies will require input and sign off from clients in order to progress to the next stage. If agencies don’t receive feedback on a proposed strategy or campaign, this can have a knock on effect on deadlines and reduce the likelihood that the agency can work to its full potential.
Action for you: Communicate to your agency when the best time is to reach you. If that is 8am on a Tuesday morning, then that’s when the agency will speak with you. But make sure that you make yourself available to your agencies at least once a month for a status call and stick to it if possible or let your project manager know as soon as possible in order to re-schedule. Also make clear which form of communication you prefer and in which circumstances you would like to be reminded, in which ones not. Also let them know what items can be progressed without your prior consent, if at all. Ensure your agency provides you with a clear overview of the items in order of priority whenever your input is required.
Update your agency on changes
Changes happen quickly. A new CEO starts, a new product is launched, the office is being extended or a move is on the horizon. Everyone in your company is well aware of the news but your agency might only find out about it by reading a press release about the appointment of the new CEO or everyone is so wrapped up with a new product launch and all its offline activities that you only remember a few days before to brief your agency. Of course this is not intentional but it can negatively affect the effectiveness of your agency. New developments can catalyse new marketing opportunities.
For instance, changes within senior management can mean that the agency’s work will be reviewed or that the agency might even have to re-pitch. Giving your agency the heads up as soon as possible, ensures your agency has time to prepare and also make you look more proactive and competent. A new product launch could inspire a new PR and social media campaign and can influence Paid search, SEO and content strategy activities.
Action for you: Ensure you let your agency know early on when there is a change or addition to the Senior management team. Agencies can prepare status presentations well in advance and are ready to meet, make a good impression and show how well they’ve been working with you to date. Also make sure to touch base with your agency at least on a quarterly basis, if not more frequently and update them on internal changes. This will enable the agency to align their strategy and plan for new campaigns or higher volumes of workload that can be easily planned into their schedule.
If you feel you’re not getting the value from your agency, I encourage you to speak up as early as possible. Communication is key and absolutely paramount in order to achieve your goals. I would strongly recommend being as transparent as possible with your suppliers, so they can perform to their full abilities. This also works both ways of course. Your agency should keep you abreast of what they have been working on in regular intervals. Frequent review meetings should take place and give both parties the opportunity to get to know each other better and build a long lasting and positive relationship.
Do you have any other tips you can share to improve the client-agency relationship? We are all ears!