Hands fitting together two puzzle pieces

What Really Matters in an Agency Relationship


When you’re looking around for the right agency to help grow your business, think of it as a job interview for your new business partner, someone directly responsible for sales and your bottom line. Ask yourself if you can picture working with these people, day in and out, through the good, bad
and ugly. If they’re the type of people who are going to say “yes” to everything, or if they’re going to challenge you to think differently, provide solid advice based on data and new ideas rooted in innovation.

The truth is, marketers are most successful when we have a true partnership with our client. In order for clients and agencies to have thriving relationships, with successful return on investment, they both need to subscribe to the following:

  • Agree upfront on short- and long-term goals, budget and responsibilities
  • Speak up if the plan or strategy goes off course
  • Be flexible – marketing plans should be fluid and change as new opportunities arise or as the business landscape changes
  • Collaboration – both sides need to take ownership of the work produced; don’t expect your agency to always get it right the first time, the best work will be produced when both sides work together

Personalized, Active Communication
Do you prefer phone calls over emails? Text messages over voicemails? It’s important to share these details and be sure to discuss these critical preferences up front. A good account manager knows that every client communicates differently, so if they’re not asking you, make it a point to tell them how you’d like to work.

It would be great if your account manager was able to stop by your office every day, but when you can’t meet in person, you should make contact every day. Phone calls, texts or emails, as appropriate, should all be part of the daily process to keep everyone on the same page.

Manage Expectations
Agencies should immerse themselves in their client’s businesses, but companies should understand what their agency can and cannot do. It will be the agency’s responsibility to do a better job of communicating what services can and cannot do in terms of driving sales.

Just like in any relationship, personal or business, your organization’s relationship with an agency should be based on the fundamentals: trust, communications and transparency of expectations. There’s a reason big brands stay with one agency for years, while on the other hand, there’s a list of reasons why agencies are dumped after only months of work. If your business is contemplating taking on an agency consider several in your search and hold them all to high standards as you begin to make decisions. After all, your brand is your lifeline to your customers and success.