How should I communicate with my marketing agency?

Child parent, parent, parent, child, child, what type of relationship is best? Well if you’re looking for a water pistol fight in the middle of June, you’d probably want to have a child child relationship but what about your marketing agency?

The Relationship

Relationships much like communication have styles. We’d see different forms of behaviour of the persons involved. If you were to listen to me speak or read this article, your default behaviour is likely to be subservient to me who is speaking with authority because I’m talking, well, writing.

It doesn’t mean you have to absorb what I’m saying and take it as fact without challenge but it gives a basis for our relationship. As in any conversation or relationship, these roles switch frequently to ensure two people are equally balanced, in most cases.


But is a balanced relationship right for a marketing agency?

How to manage your marketing agency

Enough theory, what does that mean for how I should manage my marketing agency?

Well the answer is one you probably already know. It depends.

The reason you have taken on a service based ‘resource’ such as a marketing agency is likely because you are looking for

  • Additional resource
  • Additional expertise
  • Hopefully better results.

So to get there, you need to ensure that your agency of choice is set up correctly to deliver on that helpful list, right? For a marketing agency, it’s very easy to fall into the subservient role because, you the client, are paying them to do a job.

BUT to get better results and showcase their expertise, an agency needs to speak with authority.

So what are some of the key cogs that need to be turned to bring the relationship to life? Agencies need rope. Agencies need to be able to guide, support and direct you – and you as the business leader need to be able to give that to them.

Start with a set of ground rules…

  • What can be signed off, what needs additional time?
  • How best will you communicate with your agency? frequency and times so they can prepare accordingly.
  • What happens if things go wrong? (because they will) what process is in place to learn, adapt and pivot as required

These might not sound particularly groundbreaking but so often missed because everyone is so pent up to get into marketing delivery without setting the framework for HOW that will be achieved. 

Rhythm needs consistency

The agency business model works because it allows you to put multiple clients into a melting pot and effectively ‘share’ a resource of a social media person or a paid media specialist for example. But as you can imagine, organising logistics across multiple clients is a job in-itself. But you also take priority, right?

In practice…

  • Agree on a meeting schedule or structure that means you get the best responses when you need them. Strategy meetings quarterly or monthly, performance meetings weekly. Having these touchpoints allows you to have focused time and they can masterfully plan around you. Screaming louder for quicker and more face-time might work in the very short term but long term your team will become immune. If it is all a priority none of it is a priority. 
  • Agencies work because they put specialists where they need to be. If you want to have a conversation about the strategy, it’s unlikely you’re going to get the best response on a call with your SEO team, rather the account lead that is owning the strategy for you. If you want to talk specifics within development, it might not be best to raise on a call about social media, you get my point.

Focus on creating structure, but also know when give the team space to spark creativity – giving your agency this space when they need it to eb and flow with you as per the business objectives. 

Fill the dark void beyond you

One of the biggest challenges agencies face when working with multiple clients is not knowing anyone in the business apart from the marketing delivery team or pop up employees on 1 call and vanish on the next. Agencies rely on these business insights to understand priorities, direction and pace – if they don’t get that, misaligned expectations cause friction and frustration occurs on both sides. 

In practice

  • Add a simple agenda point to your agenda to give a 5 min overview of what is happening in the business, the directions from above and the blockers that might be happening elsewhere, your agency will thank you.

Agency relationships don’t need to be hard, but like any good relationship, trust, transparency and communication are critical to making it work. 

Here at anti-ordinary we focus on our customer journey, where we map how it feels for a customer to go through our agency to ensure each touchpoint for you is strong and gives you what you need from who, from initial conversation through to delivering. Setting expectations and getting results is what we care about, it really doesn’t need to be that hard.

Interested in our Against Ordinary communication style? Let’s talk. 

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