How to build an epic agency-client relationship
Ever had the below conversation with your digital agency:
This isn’t what I wanted. You always do this!
Well if you would have clearly explained what you wanted this wouldn’t have happened. I’m not a mind reader y’know
Why are you always late! I can never trust you
Hey don’t blame me. You were the one who kept asking for more. And these things take time. It’s your own fault
Sounds exactly like a relationship doesn’t it? That’s because it is. Both agencies and clients have had the above conversation (albeit worded differently) at some point in time. In my line of work I get to deal with countless digital agencies. And over that course of time, I’ve learnt a great deal on how to maintain an “Epic” relationship with them.
So here are my top 4 tips to keep that honeymoon period going with your respective agencies
1. Clearly establish your goal(s) and know what you want to achieve through the campaign
I see many brands just going into the meeting room expecting the agency to help them define what makes a winning outcome. Agencies are great at being creative and they can whip up a winning concept for your next campaign. But they need guidance. They need to know what it is you see at the finish line and you can’t expect them to know or discover it by themselves. Let there be no mistake about the fact that while your knowledge may be limited in the digital domain, there is (or should be) no one who knows your product or service better than you. So if you’re even slightly unsure of your goal, I say stop and take a moment. Evaluate what your goal is and figure out how you’re going assess whether its being achieved or not. Only when you have done this is the time to call in the agency to do its magic.
2. Be confident in what you know about your brand
With the vast amount of creative knowledge agencies bring to the table, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed or even intimidated by that significant other; because of which you see yourself behind the curve and feel compelled to try the attractive campaign ideas that are initially brought to the table. While these ideas may truly be one of a kind they may fail to take into the account the numerous challenges only you are aware of. That’s why its really important to voice your concerns and take a stand if you feel the campaign will not be successful. Trust me! its really important to do this. Either get your doubts cleared or ask your agency to take a different approach. You may come across as a hard a$$ to them but this is so much better than having the “this is not what I wanted” conversation.
3. Get a prototype or a proof of concept
In any campaign that involves design or development of an application it is always advisable to see if what’s being developed is inline with what you envisioned. Maybe what you had envisioned was also flawed. To put it simply, 7 times of 10 you are not going to be wowed if you wait till the end. So push for your involvement during the development cycle. Develop iteratively. This will also ensure that the agency can build in any last minute feedback you have.
Super Tip: Before finalising the agency from your agency pool try to get them to deliver a simple design or proof of concept as part of their proposal. It doesn’t have to be as intricate as the final deliverable. But if they can give you a sense of their take of what the deliverable should look like, you can more accurately gauge if they are a good fit. Agencies do want to win your business and they’ll usually go the extra mile if they believe in their talent
4. Leave nothing to assumptions
Ok so this may not totally be possible. But you should always try to ensure that the agency keeps away from making assumptions. In my experience what works better is by starting with telling them what definitely will NOT work as opposed to listing out all the things you want. While the latter approach is more susceptible to missing important items, one is bound to be crystal clear on what shouldn’t be the case. So clearing those things out first gives agencies a solid idea of what to avoid.
An important point to note is that assumptions can be made about anything that relates to a successful project delivery. They could be made about the timelines, the actual deliverable, the approval process or many other things. So the sooner you clear them out the better.
There you go guys. Sticking to these points, has really worked for me. And I hope they work out for you too.