During my career I’ve had roles in corporate marketing departments and at advertising agencies. Switching back and forth has provided perspective into maximizing the agency-client relationship. There are absolutely “favorite” clients and fingers-crossed that I have been considered one. Here’s the secret recipe:
1. Prioritize Partnership
As an agency, there is nothing worse than being considered a “vendor” by a client. Vendors sell hot dogs. Agencies build relationships. And the best partnerships are created when a marketing agency is viewed as an extension of the your team. Share goals, strategies and business updates with your agency. This will keep them invested in your business and allow them to bring proactive ideas to the table.
2. Put Thought Into Requests
This is really about documenting your needs and requirements. So, write a brief, send an email or set up a call at the start of every project. Ensure that you have thought through the strategy, target audience, channels, priorities of communication, timing and budget ahead of time. Being organized before you start a project is going to increase success for everyone involved.
3. Give Constructive Feedback
Agencies want to make you happy. At Catalyst, we aim to delight you. However, it’s usually going to take a couple of rounds of work to get exactly what you want. Focus on explaining the problem without solving the problem. For example, let your agency know the logo needs to be more prominent, versus telling them to make the logo bigger. This is because the best solve could be adding a drop shadow or color change to the logo. You don’t know until the designer (or writer or planner) explores the request.
4. Make 80/20 “Urgent Requests”
When you raise your hand to work in advertising, you expect late nights and long hours. Crazy requests come up. But when every phone call is a fire drill, it’s easy to burn your agency out. The work will suffer and the best people will ask off of your business. When you have a project where you can control timing, stay on top of it. And ask for rushed work when you really need it – about 20% of the time.
5. Say Thanks
Yes, you are paying your agency and they work for you. But I can’t tell you how far a “thank-you” goes. I had one client send my team cookies for completing a near-impossible request. Another wrote a thank you note to the president of our company. These small gestures made everyone on the team work exponentially harder for these clients. Want to get 20% more from your agency? Be nice, say thanks and everything else is gravy.