How to Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Agency

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You’ve hired an external marketing agency to assist with your next campaign – now, what are you going to do to maximize the value they bring to the partnership? It’s often a million-dollar question.

You know that you’ve secured a team of industry experts who are well-versed in strategic planning, execution, and analysis of marketing campaigns. Ideally, they’re a full-service shop, ranging from copywriters to graphic designers, digital marketers – and everything in between. Collectively, the group offers the same benefits of an in-house marketing team – without the fixed overhead and administrative burdens that come with staffing. Sounds great, right?

Perhaps – but, there are a few key guidelines to remember when engaging a new agency partner. We’ll dive into a few of those best practices.

Make Sure They’re the RIGHT Fit

Before you and an agency begin working together, it’s imperative that you feel comfortable with them and have no qualms about your hiring decision. Your new agency should be familiar with your industry, while visibly understanding your company goals and values. In addition, there must be chemistry. As most of us come to realize over time, work is much more difficult when attempting to do it with a group or individual(s) with whom you quickly discover aren’t on the same page. When you see that mis-alignment, confront the issue. Don’t wait for it to “work itself out.” More often than not, it doesn’t.

Explain Your Vision

Expecting that your new external marketing agency will know exactly what you want right away is a recipe for disaster and will be detrimental to the outcome of your campaign. It’s important to remember that most agencies work with a variety of clients in similar industries. While this is beneficial to you in some respects, it also calls for more clarity around your specific goals. A formal sit-down conversation is needed to plan effectively, clearly identify these objectives, and decide on what content would be most appropriate and engaging. Distribution dates and follow-up are also key in this discussion to ensure there are no surprises.

Supply Them with Relevant Content

Work with your agency to develop a clear understanding of what content is critical to the success of the campaign at hand. In many cases, newly hired agencies are given a large folder with nearly every piece of content the company has ever produced, from white papers and one-sheets to videos and photos, and are left to their own devices in terms of figuring out what’s relevant and what isn’t. Although all of the content offers value, the process of an outside team member sorting through hundreds of pieces of content is extremely time consuming – and unnecessarily expensive. What you’re aiming to do is produce a content calendar that will guide planning, development and deployment of compelling new material. Make sure you aren’t taking the agency down a dead-end street.

Be Open to Revision and Plan Accordingly

Great work takes time – and patience. Typically, there are multiple rounds of edits and plenty of back-and-forth needed to make to each piece of content flow. By building in enough time in your production cycles, you’ll minimize the chances of rushing something through that’s off-target with your audience.

Consistent Contact

Last, but certainly not least – make it a point to standardize meeting frequency and format with your agency. That structure creates a rhythm and discipline in the way it is developed and delivered. Team members have more respect for deadlines. They also stay up to speed with new developments that impact planning and production cycles.

Working with an agency can deliver a multitude of benefits, ranging from industry expertise and cost-effectiveness, to accessing some of the most technologically advanced resources and best practices in the marketing space today. Vetting the right partner and doing your due diligence is just the beginning of the journey. The success of the working relationship that ensues is as much a function of the process and protocols you establish as it is the talents of the people around the table.

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Michael Shepherd

Michael serves as Managing Partner of The Shepherd Group, a brand and communications firm with offices in Seattle and Newport Beach. A former journalist, he specializes in building narratives through discovery, design, and development of branded editorial and visual content.

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