If you’ve ever worked in a creative agency or worked with one, you’ve probably come across at least one of those internet lists summarising the ridiculous things clients and agencies say to each other. These lists may be made in jest but you know what they say – behind every joke is a grain of truth (and, in this case, a hint of animosity).
All this drama isn’t good for productivity – we can’t do good work if we loathe each other. If you’re planning on working with an agency for the first time, here are some ways you can build a relationship of trust and respect with your agency, and to get the most out of it. It also makes sure you don’t spend your ad dollars torturing yourself.
1. Ensure your brief has all the essentials
Every project with an agency starts with a creative brief. This document is provided by the client and it contains all the essential information that the agency should know about your business as well as the objective of the project.
Here’s what a typical brief should have:
Summarise what this project is meant to do and provide some context.
E.g. A Facebook advertising campaign to boost brand awareness.
This is also the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that you want your agency to hit at the end of the project. Goals should contain:
- What you would like to measure
- A specific number you wish to achieve
- A deadline to achieve those numbers
E.g. To achieve 1,000 impressions for the ad by 14 October 2018.
Every marketing campaign needs a target audience. You wouldn’t want to waste ad dollars trying to reach out to individuals who have no use for your product or service. For example, if you are selling baby diapers, your target group would probably be parents of infants or couples who are expecting, and not singles. Specifying a target group is important because your agency needs to create ads that speak to and resonate with that particular group of people in order for the ads to be effective.
These are the specific things you expect your agency to produce. One example of an expected deliverable for a Facebook ad would be a visual and an accompanying copy.
Every brand has a unique personality and tone of voice. Do share your brand guidelines with your agency so that they can adhere to it when they’re developing the deliverables. This is to ensure that your branding is consistent across all forms of communication.
2. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
It’s nice to go the tried and tested way. Watching your competitor market their product so successfully and wanting to do something similar is natural. It might not be the best idea though. If you want to gain attention, you have to veer away from conventions and do something bolder. Or at least something different. A good creative agency should be able to take the lead in thinking of wacky but feasible ideas. So if they nudge you out of your comfort zone a little, try to keep an open mind.
3. Set realistic expectations
In an ideal world, work can be done fast, still be of high-quality and be cheap. Unfortunately, this is the real world where these three things don’t overlap. There are very real restraints when resources, be it in terms of time, manpower or funds, are in short supply. Polished work will take more time to complete as well as a bigger budget. In other words, you get what you pay for.
This is why we’d recommend spending a little more on your marketing if your budget allows. We aren’t just saying this because we are an agency and we want your money; your budget directly influences the quality of ads your agency will be able to produce. Quality is important as it will affect your target audience’s perception of your brand. Just put yourself in the shoes of your consumers – would you be more inclined to check out a brand whose ads look professionally done or a brand whose ads look shoddy and untrustworthy? A better ad will leave a better impression and will be more effective at persuading your audience to carry out an action.
4. Have faith in your agency’s expertise
A lot of tension between agency and clients arise due to creative differences. It’s true that you know your business best but your agency probably knows the advertising medium better. They would also know the most efficient way to cut through the clutter to get your brand noticed. That is why you hired them after all – for their expertise. So help them help you by trusting their know-how and heeding some of their advice. They’re your partners in this – they’ve got your back.
5. Give feedback in a timely manner
Nobody likes to drag out a project longer than necessary. Your agency should work to meet deadlines but for the project to be completed on time, it also means you should give your feedback in a timely manner. If both sides are efficient in replying each other and getting things done on time, the process will be much smoother and more enjoyable.
You should also discuss feedback on drafts internally before contacting your agency with a list of changes to be made. Feedback that is given piece by piece at different times might confuse your agency, especially if some of these comments contradict each other. This would result in more back-and-forth which reduces efficiency. So remember to collate all the feedback before sending it over at one go.
6. Keep communications open
A good relationship is built on trust and one way to build trust is by keeping communications open. If you are unsure about anything, feel free to talk to your agency about it. Similarly, your agency might need your help clarifying certain things about your business. You should also make yourself contactable to answer any of their queries, even if some of these queries might require more digging on your end. Don’t worry, your hard work will pay off; your agency can produce better work if they are more familiar with your business.
It goes without saying that you should take a look at an agency’s past works to gauge their capabilities and see if they’re a good fit for your business. However, this doesn’t mean that if they haven’t had any experience with certain industries they won’t be able to do a good job. Try talking to them about it, they might surprise you with good ideas.
Having a good relationship with your agency doesn’t just make things more pleasant for both parties, it also manifests in the final product. Agencies and clients who work well together are able to produce effective and even groundbreaking advertising strategies. But of course, it takes two hands to clap. If your agency isn’t being upfront with you or if they seem to have difficulty adhering to deadlines, then perhaps you should consider switching to another.