How to get the most out of your agency relationships: teamwork & collaboration

This is the second part of my “how to get most out of your agency relationships” series. You find part one over here.

This instalment focuses on teamwork, collaboration and touches base on methods of way of working.

You are part of the team – it doesn’t matter which “side” you work on, client or agency, you are there as a team when you start working together. You as the client is pro concerning your business, brand, market and target audience etc. The agency are the pro’s in communication, marketing, technology or whatever may be their field. Together you solve the challenges ahead in terms of projects or your  ongoing collaboration as a team. You are there to work together.

Be clear in briefs – the  more clear, and to the point you can be in your briefs to your agency, the better conditions you are creating for the agency. Don’t be alarmed though, if you don’t have all the information – say it – and the agency can make this part of the project or assignment to help you find out what you need.

Present the challenge and the problem – to the team, then leave it to the agency to solve it while you are acting as an advisor for any questions. If you are presenting the challenge or problem with the solution to the agency – then why are you there?

Dare to be iterative – don’t be afraid of iterative methods for working together. Technology is moving so fast now so that rather than risk an outdated solution. Eg what you get if you work in a waterfall way – with for example a new web presence. Where you start one year and – roll it out on your markets after 2,5 years if you are lucky – then your website is already 3 years outdated. Of course not seeing the end and final price tag on a project is scary – however you gain a modern, up-to date solution. That said, that are ways around the not seeing the price tag for a project – be upfront with your budget for the project and the team can take this into account. And that said – of course that proposes another risk – which is that you may limit your solution. But you need to find what works for you, together. Or work in smaller “work packages” rather than a big time consuming project.

For a media agency this can be a way of recommending a pilot campaign or pilot marketing mix – that you then evaluate against set KPI’s and re-distribute budget depending on performance.

Just to clarify this example above – I used building a new web presence above as it’s the best example of when you should work in a more iterative process. Since you cannot foresee what certain developments within web developments, software, etc.  And even if you do have a one-off gigantic web-project – it may cost you more in the end to re-build something to fit a new standard.

Be upfront with your budget – being honest with your budget from the get go minimizes the back and forth of project proposals and what have you. Your agency can also help you invest in the best initiatives or projects for your budget to really maximize what you got. Being upfront with your budget is how you really speed up the work for the agency and yourself – as there is no guesswork involved and you can get to work immediately.

Transparency – in terms of hours spent, or help you re-distribute marketing budgets, get the impressions promised from a specific platform – should not be a problem for any agency to share with you or to help you obtain.

Respect each other – sadly, throughout the years, I’ve seen people who things it’s ok to be  abusive in various ways (put people down, being outright verbally abusive etc) and that is not ok – not by anyone working anywhere. Unfortunately I’ve seen this from the “big brands” where people thing its OK to act as as assholes and when they say jump – the agency should ask – how high? that is not a respectful relationship and big brands should really be extra careful and attentive to how their employees conduct themselves when they represent their brand. because they are many times also their customers. When you are at work (or in any other context) no matter where you work – you should act professional and kind.

Trust each other – this ties into the respect in a way but sometimes there is a real mistrust against agencies at the get go. I’ve been involved in some pitches where you present your work with the team and even before you start presenting you can feel the that the people in the room have a certain view of agencies and consultants. That they overcharge or whatever. I’m sure those opinions are based in previous bad experiences. Not all agencies are great. But a new relationship is not done for a great start if there is no trust from the get-go. If that’s the case – why don’t open up about them – or ask questions that are important to you to a potential new agency before judging them?

If you are not happy with something say it – the agency you work with is really keen, as anyone would – of their customer to get the best service, results and experience with their company. If you are not pleased with something – say it in a constructive way. It will be welcomed. If not – change agency!

We are all humans – we want to connect, work together and have fun, don’t be afraid of being yourself and having fun. The best work I’ve seen and the best teams are the ones where everyone participates, and just are themselves. Wherever “side” you may belong to 🙂