A brand agency partner can be compared to your best or worst navigation tool, so it’s imperative to be aware when you're no longer getting to where you need to be. Over the past 15 years, my partners and I have operated our own brand agency and have been privy to clients sharing their experiences regarding why they decided to switch over and start working with our team.
In all fairness, sometimes it's had nothing to do with the performance of another agency, but was instead due to a company's internal politics. However, I have noticed a pattern over the years as to when clients realize they are not working with the right agency partner, and 5 signs have continually come up in conversation as to why they needed to make a change.
Having the following agency expectations on hand can provide a roadmap for establishing a successful relationship with a new agency partner, or be a helpful checklist when evaluating your existing agency.
Great agencies look for insights and ask A LOT of questions. The only way an agency will be able to produce high quality work is if they have in-depth knowledge of your specific products or services. An agency that invests the time to immerse themselves in all aspects of their client's organization is better able to provide great creative and messaging. This learning phase should be a part of your onboarding process, whether it's a discovery session with the project managers or a strategy discussion with the team. If your agency doesn’t make an effort to truly understand your company, then you won't receive unique brand creative that strongly connects with your audience.
At the heart of all successful marketing is creativity, pure and simple. This should be the fundamental process that an agency brings to the table in a successful client-agency relationship. You shouldn't feel compelled to spoon-feed creative direction to your agency because you may lack trust in the final outcome. If you have put in the time to answer all your agency's questions, then you deserve to be thrilled by the creative received. When you work with an agency that surpasses your level of expectation – in the form of great deliverables that truly embrace your brand and market position – this is a partner resource well worth keeping. Never settle for ho-hum creative; your time and your brand deserve better.
At one point or another, a project may encounter difficulties or challenges – how does your agency respond? Are you given a series of excuses about their difficulties or roadblocks? Or do they simply outline the challenges and give you their game plan on how it will be resolved quickly? You have enough on your plate; you deserve an agency that takes responsibility so you can move on to other tasks at hand. How your agency handles the bumps in the road is what separates a great agency from a mediocre agency.
Can you sleep at night knowing your agency has each of your projects well under control? Open and honest communication is paramount – you deserve proactive insight on the state of all open projects so you're not compelled to micro-manage; your time is way too valuable. Keeping up to speed with your agency can come in the form of a weekly update or a quarterly review. No matter the time frame, you should feel that your agency is being forthcoming and transparent about what is or is not getting accomplished. An exceptional agency partner will initiate these discussions, not rely on you to reach out and make the request.
A word of caution: If your agency is constantly moving out deadlines – not due to lack of responsiveness or delayed approvals on your end – that's a clear sign they are not helping you move in the right direction. You have the right to hold your agency accountable for their commitments, and if they’re not meeting them regularly, then it’s time to consider a new resource partner.
The right agency shouldn't make even the smallest of projects seem overly orchestrated or complex. Being assigned an inflated agency team can often exhaust budgets (and you) in the process. Your agency should be able to provide a clear outline of expected costs and remain within budget. If costs may exceed what was originally agreed upon, then you should be proactively notified. Never allow yourself to be put in a position of receiving an invoice with little to no understanding about additional hours included. At the end of each project, when the final invoice is received, you should always feel like the completed deliverables and services rendered were well worth the money.
One of the key reasons Matter Creative Group is so successful in helping clients move toward their goals is by treating them the way we'd want to be treated – it’s our version of the Golden Rule. Clients partner with us as experts in strategy, messaging, brand-building and creative execution, and they continue to engage with us because we demonstrate a genuine interest in their continued success.
Is Matter Creative Group the right agency partner for you?
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