How to Build a Successful Relationship Between a Marketing Agency and a Client
Hiring any type of contractor or external consultant is always a big investment of your time, energy, and money, which is why it’s crucial to build a mutually beneficial relationship with this third party from the beginning to ensure success.
Whether you’ve recently hired an agency for your company or you’re thinking about hiring one in the future, this blog post shares how this business relationship is a two-way street and covers the responsibilities of both the client (you) and the agency in order to make it an experience that’s enjoyable, successful, and easy-going for all.
Responsibilities of Clients and Marketing Agencies
Be Involved in the Process
A big misconception that companies have when they hire an external marketing agency is assuming that the agency can handle everything for them, and they can step back from the project completely — but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, the whole point of hiring an agency is to take your organization’s marketing off of your hands, but they still require some time and attention from you in order to build a successful strategy. In addition to approving the creatives and content that the agency produces for you, it’s crucial to provide any “inside information” to the agency that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. This includes:
- Testimonials from clients
- Photos and visuals, if they aren’t doing that for you
- Company-specific or industry-focused information about your products or services
And more. The agency is an expert in marketing, but they’re not an expert in what you do, which means that it’s up to you to share this information with them so they can use it to create valuable content — otherwise, you’ll likely be left with content that feels “generic” or “repetitive” because they don’t have what they need to be successful in what they deliver.
On the other hand, from an agency standpoint, the agency should absolutely “warn” the client that their involvement is required. If an organization hires an agency without realizing that their time is needed in a certain capacity, that may lead to a bit of frustration for the client, as they may not have that time to give. Always be upfront from the start about what you’ll need from the client so they don’t feel like they were thrown into something they weren’t ready for.
Abide by the Clauses in the Contract
As a client, never begin working with an agency without signing a contract, but remember that the contract isn’t just to protect the agency — it’s to protect the both of you. The contract you sign will likely have one, or all, of these clauses that you should pay attention to:
- Cancellation clause: how much notice is required if you need to cancel services
- Late fees: how many fees you’ll need to pay if you submit payment for an invoice late
- Startup costs: how much additional money you’ll need to pay if you’re not responsive during the project, causing it to pause
And more. By signing the contract, you’re stating that you agree to the terms and conditions of the document and therefore are required to abide by them. If you do need to cancel services, for example, be mindful of the cancellation clause that is outlined in the contract and adhere to that, out of courtesy for the agency.
On the other hand, this contract also ensures that the agency you hired is doing what they said they would. If you feel as though they haven’t delivered what was promised, you can use your contract with them to point that out.
As for the agency, a contract ensures that all clients agree to work on your terms. If a client is late on payment or tries to cancel services outside of the required cancellation period, you can use your contract to show that they must follow the terms that are outlined.
Pay Your Invoices on Time
Always, always, always pay your agency or contractor by the due date of the invoice. As a small business, the agency relies on receiving payment on time to pay themselves and their team members in addition to paying their expenses and operating costs to keep things running smoothly. Failure to pay on time makes things difficult for the agency from a cash flow standpoint. Think of it from the opposite perspective: would you be frustrated if a client didn’t pay you on time? Most likely! That’s why it’s crucial for you to pay your invoices when they’re due, as you wouldn’t want to be in that situation yourself.
From the agency point of view, be clear with your clients about when their invoices are due. It’s also important to give a little bit of grace when a client may be a little bit late on their invoice, as things can happen — they may see your invoice and mean to pay it but then get distracted by something else, or maybe even your invoice landed in their spam, which can happen with certain CRMs. Don’t assume the worst from the get-go, and be sure to share consistent reminders with clients.
Have Realistic Expectations
It’s great to have goals that you want to achieve through your marketing, but be sure that those goals are realistic for what you’re hiring the agency for. If you’re expecting to gain 5,000 Instagram followers in 30 days after being dormant on social media for months or you want to increase your leads but you’re relying only on social media, those might not be the most realistic expectations. It’s difficult to have very lofty goals that are impossible for the agency to achieve, as that automatically sets them up for failure.
The agency, however, should be upfront with you about what are and aren’t realistic goals. If they’re promising you results that are too good to be true, that should be a red flag for you. The agency should also be honest about what they can and can’t do for you before you sign a contract with them so that you know what you’re getting into from the start, preventing any misinterpretation.
Share Any Concerns Immediately
If the agency you’re working with is doing something that doesn’t sit right with you or you aren’t a huge fan of what they’re creating, it’s crucial to voice your concerns immediately. Doing so allows both you and the agency to create a solution that satisfies both of you and ensures that you’re happy. Don’t hold back from sharing any feedback because you’re worried that the agency might get offended — if they’re the right agency for you, then they’ll appreciate and welcome any feedback and feel grateful that you’re sharing information and guidance with them that will allow them to perform better. From an agency standpoint, it’s frustrating when a client doesn’t share their dissatisfaction until the very end of the project, especially when given multiple opportunities to do so, as any distaste could have been addressed and resolved early on, allowing for a successful relationship.
If you’re an agency and the client is giving you concerns, it’s also your responsibility to share that with them immediately, as you’ll either be able to correct the course, or depending on the situation, potentially end the contract. In order to achieve true results, both the client and the agency must be satisfied with the project and relationship.
Respect Everyone’s Time
As a client, hiring an agency doesn’t mean that you have them on demand 24/7 — unless you’re paying extra for around-the-clock support, of course! With agencies having several other clients that they work with, it’s not possible for them to stop the work that they’re doing to immediately cater to another project. Additionally, if an agency has to repeatedly email their clients to follow up on items they need from them, that isn’t efficient and is a surefire way to cause a delay in the project. Be sure to:
- Get the agency what they need when they need it
- Avoid asking for last-minute favors
- Adhere by their communication policies, i.e. don’t call or text them without a pre-scheduled meeting if that’s what they prefer
An agency needs to respect the client’s time as well. The most important part of this is delivering any projects on time and according to the deadline, unless otherwise stated and communicated. It’s unrealistic for an agency to deliver an entire month’s worth of social media posts the day before the month begins and expect the client to look through and approve the whole calendar on time. The clients should have an ample amount of time for reviewing and approving any creatives and deliverables, unless there is a delay in the project.
It’s also helpful for both parties to communicate when they’ll be out of office for extended periods of time, such as a vacation or around the holidays, to allow for early preparation of projects, if need be.
Building Long-Term Marketing Success
Marketing is a Two-Way Street
Any relationship between a company and their vendors is a two-way street and should never be one-sided. Dedication and commitment to ensuring satisfaction for all parties is crucial, and being open and receptive to feedback from all who are involved is key. However, remember that if both you and your contractor have tried to have a successful relationship, but it just isn’t working out the way that you wanted it to, it’s okay to cut ties. You tried, and that’s all that matters! Both you and the contractor will be able to find someone who is a better fit.
Are you thinking about hiring a marketing agency? Request a consultation with us to learn how we can support you.
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