You’ve hired an agency. Now what?
At DemandGen, we have a detailed checklist for every step from start to finish, from the signature on a new Statement of Work to celebrating a project’s success.
During my tenure of four years, this checklist has been refined numerous times. We are continually striving to improve our client relationships, which begin the first time our Client Success and Delivery team engages with a client.
Our clients play a vital role in building a strong partnership and achieving project success. So, if you’ve ever felt like you were 100 percent reliant on your agency for results, here are five specific tips to get A+ results from your agency from the first time you meet the delivery team:
Get organized for the initial kickoff call and prepare as you would for any important meeting — perhaps even more so, since this is your first opportunity to introduce your agency to key points of contact within your organization and educate them on your business.
- Check-in with your client engagement manager for their expectations.
- Make sure you’ve setup access to your systems and documentation. If this is your first time providing access to an external vendor, your organization may have several security requirements to meet before allowing them to pass through.
- Try to assign a project owner or lead for your team(s), particularly for larger organizations. If you have multiple technical and functional projects, it may make more sense to provide different points of contact.
- Share your organizational chart, and include a description of your key players. Don’t make them play a corporate version of Where’s Waldo from outside your firewall.
Yes, you’re just getting to know each other, but don’t hold back or sugarcoat what you want (or don’t want) out of politeness. Transparency is the buzzword de jour, but with a partner, it needs to be de rigueur.
- Articulate in measurable ways what project success looks like for not only you and your team, but also for senior leadership and all key stakeholders that will be impacted by this project. If you’re making a switch from something that didn’t work, what would you prefer to avoid or improve on?
- Share your marketing goals and objectives so that your marketing agency can succeed in helping you achieve them.
- Regular communication is important. Promptly returning emails or calls, or replying with when you are available, is very helpful in staying on schedule and keeping your initiative moving full steam ahead.
- Make time for monthly check-in and quarterly business reviews as you would for your own organization.
Anyone who’s worked on a major initiative knows to expect some deviation from the original plan. As much as we try to plan for the unexpected, it’s still unexpected. Things happen. Requirements change. If business plans were set in stone, we’d all still be following our original plans and strategies for 2020. By communicating and working closely with your partner to adapt to these changes, you can help ensure the end result is optimized for your business.
- Share regular feedback on what’s working (and what isn’t) so that your partner can continually optimize and refine their work throughout your project.
- If people or organizational changes occur, inform your agency and let them know what risks, if any, may now exist. Your agency may have experienced similar situations with previous engagements, and may be able to offer suggestions for how best to move forward.
- If you don’t understand something, or aren’t familiar with something being done, ask for clarification. If you and your agency aren’t speaking the same language, you won’t be able to communicate exactly what you want — which can lead to a finished product that falls short of your (unspoken) expectations.
- Tell your marketing agency about things occurring within your business, even if they may not seem entirely related. Did your company acquire a new business? Is there a big branding change? Has the product direction pivoted? Giving your partner insights into your business may inspire new ideas to better meet your evolving needs.
Budgets may be the bane of some people’s existence, but we all have one. And they do actually help focus everyone’s efforts on what’s most important to your business. Following these tips will help you establish and maintain a strong and positive working relationship with clearly defined expectations and deliverables.
- Setup a budget that truly accommodates your needs. If your current budget won’t allow for that, prioritize what you’d like to accomplish first. We’ve seen it time and time again: once marketers can demonstrate results to senior leadership — especially when they can tie demand generation efforts to topline revenue — they often find they can get additional budget approved for the next phase of their project.
- Develop clear specifications of what you need your agency to achieve and determine if you will need ongoing discussions or support. These answers can help you determine the fee-basis you decide to choose.
- Your agency team knows that your needs may change. You may discover new requirements or have a change to the scope of work. If this happens, recognize the importance of having this discussion early with your client engagement manager so you can adjust your project scope while keeping your budget in check.
- Remember: your agency is operating as an extension of your team. In that spirit, negotiate the various aspects of your contract as you would with your own employees. Healthy partnerships of any kind require mutual respect and, occasionally, compromise. Work together to find creative solutions that leave both parties feeling valued and excited to begin this journey.
Congratulations! The hard part of finding and structuring your agency relationship is done. You’ve now requested and paid for expert advice, like you would a lawyer helping with a living trust or a financial advisor strategizing for your retirement. Now, it’s time to be on the receiving end of their expertise.
- Be open to your agency’s expertise and recommendations. It sounds simple enough, but it’s easy to get caught up in how you do things at your organization, what you think might work better, or an article about how another company found success.
- Consider, evaluate, and discuss your consultant team’s insights. Your agency has worked on many similar — and successful — projects in the past. That’s why you chose to partner with them, and they want you to succeed. Let them help you do that.
- When you find yourself grateful for your extended team, consider showing your appreciation. It may be as simple as a personal message or an online review that lets other marketers know what a great job the agency has done. We’re all human after all, and we all appreciate being recognized for our hard work.
We always do our best to go the extra mile here at DemandGen, but when our clients follow these tips, we’re able to go even further.
When your agency is engaged in a true partnership, they will be as energized as you are and incredibly excited about working hard to meet and exceed expectations. I hope one of these tips may help in a future relationship or even one in progress!
At DemandGen, we’re passionate about making marketing heroes. We love to work with our clients, and in turn celebrate great work. That’s why we offer an array of services that help make Marketing matter more in any organization. Let’s talk about how we can help your team become marketing heroes on your next project!
As a Client Engagement Manager, Linnea Alvord helps DemandGen clients meet their strategic objectives through the use of marketing technology and services. Linnea’s passion for client success has been honed over 20+ years in technology consulting and marketing. She believes that marketing and sales alignment is possible and wants to help all of her clients become marketing superheroes.