As a client, working with an agency can be challenging. You’re essentially mashing two teams (and two visions) together in hopes of accomplishing one goal. Needless to say, things can go downhill fast if you’re not proactive from the beginning and take precautionary measures to align both your goals and your vision with your agency of hire.
Here are 5 great tips for working with an agency:
- Set clear points of contact
- Manage expectations by making them clear from the start
- Communicate openly and often
- Always base business decisions off of analytics
- Trust the process
Whether you’re new to working with an agency or looking to make your existing relationship the best it can be, these 5 tips will make working with an agency as smooth as possible. Read on to get the full details on how to implement them.
Set Clear Points of Contact
Both the agency and client-side will likely be comprised of multiple team members, so before you begin working, it’s important to define the who, what, where, when, and how.
Who – Both parties should have a clear outline of the members of both teams and their contact information.
What – Define the job function of each member and outline how they will contribute on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis.
When – Since not all team members will be involved all the time, it’s best to define when each team member is needed.
Where – It’s essential to know where all marketing collateral, files, and projects will be kept, so they are easy to access when needed. Also, it’s vital to agree on where the actual work will take place or be tracked. Will both teams use a project management tool or calendar to coordinate? Or will you use review tools like Invision? Picking tools and management systems in advance will eliminate confusion.
How – How will each team communicate with one another, and what is the preferred communication method/channel for both sides? It could be via email or perhaps an instant messaging service like Slack (This is our preferred method, and did we mention that there’s a free version?). No matter how you choose to communicate, make sure both sides agree on one and stick to it. This will ensure no one misses messages or vital information.
Outlining members of each team and setting expectations surrounding work and communication will ensure seamless collaboration. Not to mention, it will save precious time and resources.
Manage expectations by making them clear from the start
Two teams, one vision! Err.. at least that’s how it should be. Ideally, both client and agency should work together to outline problems, goals, timelines, and agreed upon solutions before working together. This will ensure that both teams are working together towards the same purpose. It will also help both sides manage expectations and avoid any friction and surprises.
When you are honest about all expectations from the start with an agency, both respective parties are much more likely to understand the path to completion. If you’re not explicit about what you want your project to look and feel like, you could end up disappointed or upset with the final results. It could also impact your working relationship with your agency.
For best results, both the client and agency should meet to outline goals using the SMART method. The SMART method is as follows:
Communicate Openly & Often
Agree on how both sides will communicate and make sure those communication channels are open on both sides so everyone can voice their opinions, ideas, concerns, etc.
With open communication, you eliminate small and/or large problems that may arise during a project. However, if you have little or poor communication with an agency, then the finished product most likely won’t be ideal.
Expressing exactly what needs to be done from the start is crucial in order for the project to be the most successful it can be. Also, excellent communication skills increase the chance that a project will meet its deadline.
Working with an agency can be challenging with poor communication methods, so make sure that this is something that both parties work hard to avoid.
Always base decisions on analytics
Like we mentioned above, it can be tough to combine two teams and attempt to accomplish one goal. When deciding where to start or reviewing work, things can quickly get heated with opinions, but it’s best to focus on the data surrounding a project and use it to drive business decisions.
At the end of the day, numbers simply do not lie, so relying on the analytics you are receiving from your agency is a great way to start or move forward with a project. If someone (from either party) expresses an idea or opinion that seems to be contradictory to the numbers, assure them that they’re being heard, then review the analytical data again to solidify your decision.
Whatever agency you choose should have a full understanding of analytics, and be able to provide them when needed to help you make sound business decisions.
Give the agency time to work
It can be hard not to want to continually check in with your agency to see the progress that is being made, but don’t forget to let your agency do their thing. When working with a new agency, it can be hard to establish trust at first, but it is something that must transpire as it is the foundation of a great working relationship.
Knowing how to work with an agency is much easier said than done. Many agencies will have their own tried-and-true methods and processes for doing things that they will adhere to. This includes how they manage their time and when they reach out. Giving an agency time to work is needed, but given the nature of the working relationship, they should be reaching out regularly to provide updates.
However, if this isn’t the case, don’t be afraid to check-in. When you do check in on a project, try to be consistent by communicating to your agency the number of times per week you are going to check in. Following a schedule in terms of when you are checking in should give your agency adequate space to work and provide you with peace of mind.
Trust the process
Overall, if you follow these five tips, you should have a smooth and productive experience with whatever agency you choose. Keep in mind that planning is key and that constant/effective communication plays a crucial role in the success of your project.