Whether you are running a small start-up or a Fortune 500 company, the planning and execution of a marketing campaign demands a variety of skills and knowledge. While most large organizations may have an in-house marketing department, big companies and small businesses alike find it advantageous to enlist the expertise of an outside marketing agency or expert to help handle specifics like advertising, graphic design and public relations. But like any relationship, communication is the key to making it work.
The process of hiring a marketing agency is much like hiring a new employee — you conduct interviews, check references and then make a decision based on experience and chemistry in hopes of selecting the best fit.
An agency generally works one of three ways: an agreed-upon hourly rate (generally anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour), a per project fee, or a monthly retainer. Regardless of fee structure, you are making a significant investment, so it is in your best interest to get the most out of your budget to help generate the best results.
Once the courting period is complete and the decision to commit is made, the real work begins. To help navigate and cultivate a successful relationship with a marketing agency, here are some tips:
1. Share your expectations and your needs
What you communicate about and how you communicate it will nurture the relationship. Everyone has expectations; knowing what each party expects will help make the relationship run more smoothly.
2. Think of the relationship as a team
The marketing agency should be viewed as an extension of your team. You each bring different perspectives and strengths to the table, but part of the value of a team are the differences.
3. Be respectful
Whether it is a phone call, a meeting, or you need to respond to an email, be conscientious of the other’s time. Always respond in a timely manner, try to be efficient when you do, and remember to say “thank you.” Showing mutual respect is essential to any good relationship.
4. Make time for each other
Schedule a regular time to meet to review results, brainstorm ideas, discuss plans and determine project deadlines for the coming months.
5. Truly listen
You have hired experts to advise you on what is best for the company. Listen to what they have to say, and trust their opinion. This does not mean you must always agree, but be open to their recommendations and hear the reasoning behind it.
If you don’t agree on something, there is usually another option. Look for different solutions that you both agree on, or look for ways that you can improve it. Clear feedback can be the key to finding the best solution for both you.
It is important to realize that enlisting a marketing agency is not about just giving your stamp of approval on ideas and then handing things off for the marketing agency to create and implement; it is a collaborative and interactive relationship. Investing time and sharing thoughts and ideas will not only help build and strengthen the connection, but it will also ultimately help you receive better service and help the marketing agency generate better work. After all, finding the right match is only the first step to a successful union.
Juliet Straker is president of marketingworx, a Phoenix-based public relations and marketing communications firm founded in 2002. For more information on marketingworx and its services visit marketingworxpr.com.