At RSW/AgencySearch, our focus is on laying the groundwork for a long, productive relationship between marketers and agencies.
As a result, most of what we write concerns the search process itself: what to look for in an agency, how to find the best agency for you, and how to make the most of the searches you conduct.
And while that search is an important step – the most important step, we might argue – it’s still just that: a step.
A strong agency partnership needs to build on the foundation of the search, and carry that momentum forward into the relationship.
It’s a tricky thing to do in a “normal” market, let alone the one we’re in at the moment.
And while the challenges are plentiful, there are a few blessings in disguise that may jump start the process of building trust with your shiny new marketing partner.
Encourage a level of trust
As a marketer, it’s a natural tendency to ensure a level of oversight when it comes to an agency’s work: it’s your brand, your decision, and ultimately your responsibility.
Taken too far, however, micromanagement results in too many voices at the table and work that’s more of the same at best, and a disjointed mess at worst.
With new challenges emerging daily, the number of meetings rises across the board and time has become an even more valuable commodity.
Quite simply, marketers aren’t able to manage agencies in the same way. This constraint on time creates a natural dynamic of building trust, letting your agency be an agency, and giving them the…well, agency, to bring the outside perspective that an in-house team often lacks.
Provides a test of adaptability
I’m not sure we need to say much more than that, as “adaptability” has been the name of the game for the majority of 2020 thus far.
You need an agency that’s willing to roll with the punches and come to the table with creative and value-added solutions; there’s been no shortage of punches over these months, and creative solutions have gone from an advantage to a necessity.
Take your agency’s reactions as a signal of how they’ll stand up to challenges in the future, and work with you to create solutions for your brand.
You already know that marketing is a sink-or-swim industry, and your new agency is jumping right into the deep end (and hopefully not “off” it!).
Demands proactive work and communication
Try as we might, Zoom and email is no replacement for client visits and in-person pitches.
And while communication has always been an important factor in an agency partnership, in an age of remote work and constant shifts, it’s never been more crucial to a successful marketing partnership.
Ask your agency questions, and ensure that every shop on your roster – whether they’ve been with you for a month or a decade – is being proactive in reaching out with plans for the road ahead.
For many of us, finding the positives has been a challenge over the past several months.
But as you’re looking forward, use this time to evaluate the creativity, flexibility, and communication ability in your agency relationships.
The challenges of on boarding a new agency are shifting, but lessons learned today will carry on long into your agency relationship, and as Winston Churchill once said: never let a good crisis go to waste.