Few things threaten a relationship like dishonesty. The same can be said about relationships between clients and their marketing agencies. In fact, a 2016 Association of National Advertisers poll revealed that advertisers voted for “transparency” as the word of the year.
How can you know if an agency is going to be truly honest with you and fully dedicated to your success? It’s not as if their own marketing material is going to announce weak commitment and shady practices.
Transparency must go beyond upfront contracts into meaningful connections with you that include asking questions, listening to your goals and needs, having conversations, and demonstrating genuine concern for more than getting paid. An atmosphere of trust and support is how long-term faith and loyalty is built in any partnership, including the one with your marketing agency.
Let’s look at the anatomy of a great agency-client relationship, guts and all:
What’s in a Contract?
While a good agency should serve you in intangible ways, above and beyond the concrete terms of a contract, the importance of a clear, air-tight marketing contract cannot be underrated. While your contract should serve and protect both parties, and your agency has a duty to protect itself as well, let’s re-emphasize the role of transparency.
In answer to the question above – what’s in a contract? – everything your agency really can do, and nothing it really can’t. After that, besides terms and fees, your contract should include a view of the current marketing landscape (and advertising and PR, if your agency is capable), the current landscape of your particular industry, key elements to a successful campaign, content strategies, and agency deliverables.
There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Questions
Your agency should be so excited to have you as their new client, they can hardly contain themselves. But, because they’re professionals, they may not literally be jumping for joy before your eyes. In fact, they may even be a little hesitant to delve into too many questions for you. But they shouldn’t. They should ask every possible thing they can to serve you best and help you realize your dreams. In fact, content marketing expert and author Jami Oetting suggests 90 (yes, 90) revealing questions agencies should ask their new clients.
Did We Mention Guts?
A great marketing agency is a team of creative, passionate, endlessly curious people who aren’t afraid of hard work and trying new strategies. They should realize when it’s time to move away from “same-old, same-old” tactics into uncharted territory. Oetting refers to this fearlessness as “keeping your hands dirty” by staying abreast of marketing trends and client industries. “[Agencies] get into the trenches with team members to understand how they’re working and where their challenges are,” she notes.
What’s in a Team?
In addition to passion and guts, you should find in your marketing professionals a relentless dedication to your business, goals and personnel – and theirs, too. Regardless of size, your marketing team should also clearly see and understand the broad picture of all the players in the business-agency relationship: the client, client’s customers/prospects, management team/owners, and their own agency constituents. We like Oetting’s comment here, too: “Think of clients, senior management, and team members as legs of a stool. If any single leg is getting short shrift, the entire enterprise is thrown off balance.”
The “L” word, and we’re only ten paragraphs in! But it’s not overzealous to apply that word to the client-agency relationship, because your agency really should love you and treat you like a precious member of the family. That involves going overboard, showing up because they care, staying in frequent “live” touch – in person or on the phone – breaking bread together, respectfully telling the truth (even if it hurts, like “this strategy isn’t working, and we need to change course”), being genuinely joyful when you’re successful…and genuinely upset – and immediately responsive – when you’re not.
The right marketing team should treat you like a treasured partner in a healthy relationship. Nothing less will do.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.