When you hire an outside agency to complete a marketing project, you expect them to act as an extension of your internal team. The reality is that sometimes you’re in line behind their bigger, higher profile, or longer-term clients and you may not get the immediate response you would like. By setting communication expectations up front, you can make you and your team a priority from day one.
Insist on One Key Contact Person
In today’s multi-tasking world, miscommunication can feel like the norm. You email someone, they never respond (“It landed in my SPAM folder”). You ask for specific information and get an information dump instead (links to informational sites aren’t the same as information!).
Stumbling blocks like these can kill communication and derail your projects when you’re relying on an outsourced ad agency. You can and should demand a single point of contact; one person who will prioritize your communications and clarify information the second you have questions.
Regularly Meet with Decision-Makers
Often you choose an ad agency based on conversations you have with the executive level team. Then, as soon as the ink is dry on your contract, the old bait-and-switch can happen: Suddenly you’re working with the B-team.
The B-team may be capable and creative, but to move a project forward, they will always have to defer to someone higher. That means your team will have to make an extra effort to get reliable answers. Not cool when you are the client.
To avoid this, make sure key decision-makers know that you expect them to attend the launch of every project—and that doesn’t mean dropping in to say “Hi.” Regularly check in with them throughout the to keep them involved in the progress. And if you aren’t getting the level of ideas or input you need from the team they’ve assigned to you, don’t hesitate to ask the executive team to put its thinking caps on and get you back on track.
Require Direct Contact with Creative Team Members
In addition to your central point person, you should feel free to reach out to any creative working on your account, too. If your project is copy-heavy, make sure you can directly email the copywriter to discuss. Working on a new logo? Your designer should be a phone call away. Any ad agency that is in the habit of supporting internal marketing groups should be open to this level of communication. Members of your agency’s creative support should also be willing to team up with your internal creative as needed to make sure that your brand standards and brand assets are being applied correctly.
Schedule Regular Face-to-Face Meetings
As a marketing professional, there’s no doubt you spend your days sending and receiving a flurry of emails, leaving and listening to voicemails and IM’ing with people you may never see. This type of maintenance-level communication is fine for day-to-day interactions between individuals who share a company culture, but it does little to foster strong partnerships with an outside ad agency.
It is human nature for people to be more open, creative and patient with those they know and like, so if you really want your internal team and your outsourced agency to work in tandem, it pays to schedule face-to-face meetings on a regular basis. Sitting in a room together helps teams share more than ideas and information. Teams that know each other as people are more efficient and effective. Never underestimate the power of having coffee together.
Do you have concerns about working with an outside agency? Read our post on the 4 Questions to Ask Before Outsourcing to a Marketing Agency.