Like any business endeavor, managing your digital marketing agency relationship should be done with respect, trust, and open communication. The ultimate goal of working with an agency is to create a lasting, successful partnership, but just because you signed a contract, doesn’t mean that’s going to happen.
Here are five of our best tips for managing your agency relationship like a pro.
1) Always Communicate
Communication is key. We can’t say it enough and definitely shouldn’t come as a surprise. Communication is exceedingly important when managing your digital marketing agency relationship. All partnership activity stems from communication and so much so that, communication (or the lack thereof) can make or break the relationship.
Okay, so that brings us to, what should you be communicating about exactly? In a nutshell, everything, but here are a few specifics.
- Goals: Clearly communicate your result expectations from the start. Communicating this early on will help prevent pitfalls later on. From there, you should ideally, work with your agency to set appropriate and achievable goals that both teams agree on.
All your marketing goals should be SMART goals. Use this template to get started.
- Needs: Manage your marketing agency by communicating your needs. What’s your preferred communication frequency? Do you prefer email or would you rather use a different form of communication? Consider anything else that your agency should know about working with you and your team, and make sure you loop all appropriate parties in on relevant information.
2) Schedule Check-ins
Workloads are full and people are busy. We are firm believers in calendar blocking and scheduling time to tackle specific objectives. Check-ins are a necessity for managing your agency. The frequency of your dedicated check-in time will depend on a few factors like the amount of work moving through your pipeline, how much you communicate outside of this time through things like email or Slack, and your overall preference. Scheduled check-ins are an easy way to make sure things stay on track and typically serve as a gentle reminder to meet weekly deadlines. Frequently, weekly check-ins end with things like, “let’s discuss this next week” and carry a general sense of urgency to have tasks completed by the next calendar meeting. Additionally, check-in times are an open invitation to talk about any barriers or roadblocks, discuss new projects, and pivot on the direction of work if needed.
3) Be Accessible
There is often a misconception that you can work with your digital marketing agency in a ‘set it and forget it’ manner; that you can send your agency off with a working direction plus an SLA and get perfect work in return. In reality, you should expect to put in the work to make your relationship with your marketing agency flourish. The best relationships with agencies are ones with continual feedback and support: emphasis on the support part. Your marketing agency will require documents, input, and ongoing knowledge of your inner business workings. If you expect that the output of the work you receive meets your brand standards and captures the direction of your company (which of course you do), you’ll have to be the one to provide the input.
Additionally, to properly manage your marketing agency, you’ll need to be available to approve and/or provide feedback on the deliverables you receive. This is especially important at the beginning of your relationship. Tying into point number one above, constructive feedback on work will improve quality as your relationship deepens while silence won’t garner any change. Of course, there is a fine line between attention to detail and hindering progress because of striving for perfection.
The bottom line here is that to effectively manage your agency, you need to make yourself accessible and dedicate time to the partnership.
4) Know the Plan
A good marketing agency will usually have a plan of attack in place. At Lake One, we refer to our plans as FieldGuides. Successful relationship management with your agency looks like knowing what that plan is and following along as it’s unwrapped. It’d be difficult to manage your agency if you didn’t know what was coming or the reasons why particular pieces of work were slated to be completed. This can lead to frustration and confusion as well as a general sense of skepticism in the whole process. Being familiar with the plan opens you up to be able to trust your agency. In addition, it facilitates an environment for productive conversation and feedback.
5) Have Trust and Be Patient
Once you know the plan, it’s easy to trust it. You have to trust in your marketing agency and the inbound process. Remember why you hired your marketing agency in the first place. You know that they are marketing experts, and you should manage to that.
Similarly, when it comes to inbound marketing, patience is key. It takes time for SEO roots to take hold, and it takes time for leads to trickle through the funnel. Unlike traditional marketing that may show a spike in activity at launch and then crash, inbound aims to grow on a steady upward trajectory. When managing your digital marketing agency, keep this in mind. Then, set your expectations appropriately.