Scaling a business is difficult. Achieving growth requires companies to have the right product and the right team. Yet recruiting capable talent can be hard. This is especially true for firms seeking marketing expertise.
One way to source skilled marketing labor is by retaining an agency. But brands must be intentional about making the most of their agency relationship. Although the clients pay the bills, most agencies worth their salt can afford to be selective about who they work with. Furthermore, companies get the best results when they actively collaborate with their agency partner.
As the managing director and founder of Group8A, a boutique marketing consultancy, I recommend four ways brands can form more productive partnerships with their marketing agency.
1. Share comprehensive and timely feedback.
In some cases, clients are their own bottleneck.
When an agency shares its deliverables, clients should thoroughly review and approve those materials within 24 to 48 hours. The longer it takes for a client to give the “green light,” the further the delay. If edits are needed, provide a full list of comments upfront. Do not wait until subsequent rounds of edits to request changes that could have been addressed earlier.
Brands are accountable for both the success and failure of their agency relationships. By actively communicating your needs and expectations, you help your agency accelerate progress, avoid guesswork and minimize errors.
2. Focus on the bigger picture and don’t sweat too many of the details.
One mistake brands make when working with a marketing agency is agonizing over the wrong deliverables or metrics.
“Why aren’t we tweeting five times a day?” “Can we get daily activity reports instead of weekly summaries?” “Why did we only grow 5 percent this week when traffic was up 10 percent the week prior?”
Do not obsess about all the minor details. Also, resist the urge to micromanage. Instead, seek to understand the process your agency will take to achieve its goals. If you believe in that, then you won’t have to worry about hitting daily targets. Finally, you can have your sights set on the bigger picture.
3. Ask embarrassing questions.
Marketers do not always realize they speak a different language. Although you may have a general understanding of what content marketing, social media engagement and pay-per-click advertising are, you should not feel ashamed when you do not understand how bounce rate, ad impressions and engagement time work.
Good agencies will coach you. Indeed, it can be embarrassing to have to ask someone to explain concepts or strategies that are fundamental in digital marketing today. Fortunately, no one will fault you for not knowing something. When you ask your agency reps to explain what they have done, what they are currently doing and what they expect to accomplish next, you initiate a conversation that can lead to a crash course in any given marketing subtopic.
4. Be opportunistic with your budget.
Marketing budgets should be designed to be flexible. To capitalize on unexpected opportunities, clients should be open to increasing marketing spend in order to pilot promising projects.
If, perhaps, a prominent blogger with millions of monthly readers requests a free sample of your product for review along with a $500 gift card to giveaway to his or her readers, you should definitely approve that expense. If a daytime TV show host offers to interview you on his or her show tomorrow, you should book the next flight out to their studio without hesitation.
Furthermore, when your agency finds ROI-positive marketing channels, be prepared to double- or triple-down on your investment. For example, if your team manages to profitably advertise your products on search engines and social media, allocate as many resources as they need to fully exhaust those marketing channels.