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What is the Ideal Agency-Client Relationship?
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As a business, when you make the decision to hire a marketing firm to help you achieve your client outcomes you’ll have to answer some important questions regarding the agency-client relationship, specifically, what role you’re going to take.
So then, how much involvement should your marketing agency require and what should your role be?
At the end of the day, the relationship between a marketing agency and its clients is built upon the same pillars as most other relationships in life — trust, understanding, mutual respect, and open communication. It is from these pillars that you’ll find the answers to achieving excellence with your agency-marketing relationship.
Read on to learn more.
Hands-on vs Hands-off
Your amount of involvement as a business can hinge on a few different factors, and although it may even change over time, at the end of the day it is your decision.
For example, consider important questions such as:
- Do you have staff on-site who handle marketing and will partner with the firm?
- Are you outsourcing everything to the agency?
- Do you already have a plan in place that you want the agency to execute or are they devising everything from scratch?
- Are you only doing weekly or bi-weekly calls and status updates?
No matter what the involvement level that your business and marketing firm agree upon, it is certain that open and honest communication utilized to outline and understand what the key performance indicators and the scope of work are is essential.
Additionally, even if you choose not to be very involved, you will still need to be at some level to approve or make edits to deliverables. In this regard, your agency-client relationship is just like dating: if you don’t make any effort at all, it’ll just turn into a nasty break-up.
Different types of firms and your involvement
Balance Small Business, lists five types of marketing firms. Based on the type of firm that you’re partnering with, your involvement may change.
- Direct marketing
- Digital marketing
- Marketing consultancy
- Marketing communications
When partnering with a telemarketing company that makes use of an offsite call center, your involvement in the process may vary. It may be less by default compared to digital marketing, where you may be calling meetings between your business and the agency to plan a social strategy or tweak/optimize existing strategies and campaigns.
The same could be true for a direct marketing agency. While you may be involved in strategy and design, most likely your staff won’t be the ones going door to door or to events to distribute promotional materials. In the above cases, what you have agreed upon to accomplish can affect how involved you are.
What to look for when hiring a marketing company
If you do decide to hire an outside agency, then you should consider these eight tips from smallbiztrends.com before the question of agency-client relationship is even addressed:
- Ask yourself if you’re willing to learn and try new things
- Understand how you best communicate and how it will integrate with the marketing firm
- Have a sense of urgency — you’re not just responsible to your clients anymore, but also to the marketing firm you’re paying
- Have your roles clearly defined so that the workflow at any level is smooth
- Be realistic (especially about what you want the firm to do for you)
- Understand that there are no guarantees
We wouldn’t necessarily call this an exhaustive list, but it’s certainly a good place to start!
Building the ideal agency-client relationship
In summary, the ideal agency-client relationship is not a one-size-fits-all answer. This varies by agency and by the goals that your business is trying to accomplish. It’s really as unique as your business and your needs.
Because your brand identity is of vital importance to a customer’s ability to recognize and relate to your brand (and ultimately buy your products), you could also consider developing your creative in-house and utilizing the marketing firm to implement the content.
Also, if you are a small company that may not have the staff or the time available, it may be smarter for you to defer to an agency.
Clearly, no two agencies, individuals or businesses are the same. Even something as apparently straightforward as increasing ROI is variable. Therefore, building a meaningful relationship between agency and business requires honesty, self-reflection and communication.
A few final thoughts
Regardless of which approach you take when it comes to your role with your marketing agency, you should remember that your agency specializes in their field.
If you do take a more active role in the relationship, understand that there is a wealth of information that you can learn from them.
When you decide to work with a marketing firm you must also consider the personalities and mannerisms of the staff. Simply put, you have to get to know each other; this is a relationship after all! If you don’t like or get along with the agency staff or vice versa, your efforts will fail.
It is vital that you and your teams gel effectively with one another.
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