How to get the best from your agency
Choosing the right marketing partner for your high-growth tech scale-up is an exciting process. But - much like hiring - a lot of emphasis is often put on the initial outreach, agency selection, and pitch process, without too much thought then given to the onboarding steps or ongoing nurturing of that collaborative relationship.
To ensure you get the very best from your agency partner, read our top tips below.
(Make sure you're confident that the agency solution is the right option for you, that you've taken a look at the 5-step decision-making framework when selecting possible partners, and read the 3 Golden Rules to go from Pitch to Partnership).
1. Clarify your company values, and assess how your partners align
Before you sign contracts and hand over the keys to your marketing palace, you need to check in on your own company values and see if your possible new partners' align. This is an important step in making sure your agency is on the same wavelength to you and your team.
Set aside time to run through your business with your new agency, as - with any relationship - clear communication is key, especially from the outset. Remember that working with an agency is like a partnership, they need to understand your business values and reflect them authentically, otherwise there may be too much of a disconnect in the working relationship before even getting stuck into the work.
Examples of core company values may include fairness & diversity, openness & collaboration, or attention-to-detail & high-quality output. Wrapped into these values are certain expectations. If reaching ambitious targets at high speed is the priority, then will there be a sacrifice in terms of quality or budgets? If open communications are encouraged, how do you draw the line between online and offline hours? Do you expect your team and your partners to be "always-on" and immediately responsive on email or Slack, or is the priority to spend more quality time on creativity and brainstorming with a pre-booked session in a week's time?
Do not underestimate the process at the beginning of your partnership. Your agency might suggest hosting a brand workshop so that they can get to know your business before moving into any implementation.
2. Calibrate your expectations
There's the old adage that you can have any of the following three; high speed, high quality, or low prices - pick any two.
An agency may pride themselves on speed and quality, but there is a price for the best talent and prioritising your work above other clients. Others are happy to turn around work at breakneck speed without too much consideration, but there's a pleasing rate that goes for that. Tight on budgets but don't want to commit on quality? Then patience is a virtue.
Realistic budgets and timeframes make everyone's lives easier. If you want a good job done and want your marketing to achieve even better results then you need to give your agency time to work its magic.
The same goes for budget, agencies can often work with all sorts of budgets but you need to remember that you always get what you pay for. If you want to work with an agency, be willing to invest so that your marketing can properly bloom.
3. Share those expectations - clear communication is key!
Communication is key in business, and your partnership with an agency is no exception! Be open and honest about the expectations you have, and feel comfortable enough to share those with a new partner. This could be around the results you expect from a social media campaign, or how you want your brand to be positioned to attract a certain demographic.
It's also important to figure out how you will communicate with your agency at the very beginning. Will you use email, Slack, WhatsApp or all of the above? Who will be the main point of contact between your business and the agency? How often do you expect to meet your agency, and will this be face-to-face or via Zoom?
All of these need to be clarifying and establishing at the very beginning to set you up for long-term success.
4. Provide timely feedback and be clear on what you want to achieve.
Agencies are busy places and, when they start working on projects, they get into a flow. When they send anything over for feedback it's helpful to receive prompt feedback, as the project can quickly lose momentum and other things start taking over.
From the very beginning of any project make sure you a clear on what you want to achieve. Discuss what your KPI's are and make it really clear what you want project results to be.
5. Mutual trust & respect is important for a successful relationship
To get the very best from your agency, you both need to trust and respect each other. You need to be able to trust that your agency will execute your vision and achieve the results your business wants (as long as those results are realistic).
You also need to respect them, their time and their opinions. It's hard to hand over the power to an outside agency but you need to respect that they know what they are doing, they are experts in an area that you are not. So trust the process because it's a road that's probably been successfully walked by many businesses before yours.
You need to make sure that your agency also trusts and respects you. They need to trust that you will have realistic expectations and that you will pay your bills on time. Your agency needs to respect your business values and produce work that exceeds your standards.
6. Remember this is a partnership
An agency is an extension of your business. Think of them as a division of your company that works in a different building. You can rely on them, trust them and of course, it is important that you enjoy working with them.
The agency you choose will work closely with your business. Which makes it less outsourced help and more a partnership that will help your business go from strength to strength.
If you make sure that you action all of the six points above then you'll be on the right track to getting the best from your agency. To recap the six points are:
Clarify your community values and see how your partners align
Have realistic expectations
Share those expectations and remember that communication is key
Provide timely feedback and be clear on what you want to achieve
Have mutual trust and respect
Remind yourself that it is a partnership
This is part of Bloom's content series to help save a lot of headaches for both agencies and clients. Make sure you've read Part 1: 'Should you work with an agency? 3 key questions to ask yourself first' and Part 2: 'How to select an agency: 5 ways to decide.'
Bloom is an award-winning brand marketing agency for high-growth tech scale-ups. Our work has been featured in the likes of The Independent, Sifted, and Startups Magazine, with clients listed in the UK's Top 5 Startups of the country. Book a call or get in touch here to find out what makes Bloom the tech industry's favourite agency.