Hiring a marketing communication agency is like getting married. Some stay married for long, some separate and some end up in a messy divorce. Just as in marriage, if you have hired or thinking of hiring an agency for any marketing project you need to follow these simple tips that go to making a great relationship.
Tip 1: Be clear on your marketing objective and communicate it.
As an entrepreneur or a marketer you need to be clear on what you want the agency to achieve and be as specific as you can in terms of the deliverability. Communicate that clearly, preferably in writing to the agency. Failure in communicating what you expected out of the other is perhaps the single most reasons for relationship break downs be it a client-agency relationship or a personal relationship.
Tip 2: Set Timelines
Set timelines for delivery of what is expected. It need not be the final delivery but the inter-related sub tasks that lead up to the final delivery. You may have hired an agency to help you in your next trade show. While the ultimate delivery is the trade show, the intermittent tasks would be getting a design prepared, getting the marketing collaterals in place and logistics arrangements. Discuss the timelines with your agency and arrive at a mutually acceptable timeline.
Tip 3: Value Time
How often have you made your agency wait until you finished your meeting? It tells the agency that you don’t value his time. He’s unlikely to value yours either and in the process unlikely to go out of his way to help you in your business. Value his time as much as you value your own time.
Tip 4: Be objective in criticism
Remember, your servicing executive is the interface between you and the actual person who is working on your project. Unless you are objective in your criticism of the work that the agency is doing, your executive will not be able to go back and deliver the same objectively to his colleagues or boss.
Tip 5: Schedule meetings in advance
The creative, development and production backend teams in agencies typically work on a first in, first out philosophy unless there is a crisis. If you need to get the best output from backend teams, it’s best to schedule meetings especially those where you would be reviewing plans or creative work. Firefighting to get a creative or a project out is the worst way to get the best output. That’s akin to coming home from work and telling your partner that you have called guests over who would like to eat stuffed turkey.
Tip 6: Meet the agency head
If you are a large account for the agency, you will meet the agency head regularly. If not the chances of you getting to meet the agency head is small. Nevertheless early on, insist on a face to face meeting with the agency head. This will ensure that the agency head will take a personal interest in making sure that your work is done properly.
Tip 7: Give Praises where due
Don’t be stingy on praises where it’s due. If you’re agency team has delivered a great project for you, a simple thank you note to the agency head praising the work done by the team will do wonders for their morale as well as make sure that the team will be looking forward to your next project eagerly.
Tip 8: Negotiate within reason
Remember agencies are businesses too. They need to make a profit. The only input cost that an agency has are its people and therefore they need to generate profit after taking into account the input. Make use of competitive pitch proposals to understand the price quote variation so that you can settle for the most effective price.
Tip 9: Pay on time
Your business runs on proper cash flows. So do other businesses. Making payments to agencies on time will make them work extra hard to retain you as an important client. You can use your timely payment as a negotiation tool also.
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