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August 20, 2022

3 Secrets to Working (Smarter) with Marketing Agencies

So, you're ready to take the plunge and partner with an agency. Congrats! Working with a marketing agency can help take your marketing efforts to new heights. And, hopefully, results in a valuable, long-lasting relationship.

But before you sign the dotted line and make your new relationship official, set yourself up for success by giving some thought to what you want the partnership to look like.

Use these three hacks to get the most out of your marketing agency relationships.

Three Insights for a Successful Partnership with Your Marketing Agency

1. Organizations hire agencies for brains, arms and legs, or a combination of the two.

Purpose and objectives are everything, so you have to know what you want. It’s going to be frustrating for both you and the agency if you don’t.

Our colleagues in consultancies know that – if you want worker bees, it’s Accenture. If you want strategy, it’s McKinsey. If it’s transactions and ongoing help on both sides, it’s probably one of the Big Four.

And, there’s the question of what work to do in-house versus outsourced. Where is your organization on that scale? Are you a solo team with little internal help or do you have a larger team with time to explore? Does your internal team have a deep experience base? Are there things you're not doing because you don't know how or how to do well? (Digital, media buys, internal communications, major media relations and direct marketing are a few examples.)

Consider how the answers to those questions affect your decision on whether — and whom — to work with.

2. When agencies talk about pricing, retainers are often the most cost-effective.

The agency is often trading a lower hourly rate for a longer assignment. The key is the scope of work covered under retainer.

All of us want to expand the service mix through additional projects — we try to discover unmet needs and suggest where we can help. It's actually good counsel to put the regular and ongoing services on retainer and leave the other stuff to project.

For example, having an agency manage paid social, while your team does the organic. We may suggest campaigns or communications training — but none of that is a good fit under retainer. Pure project work is good if you have different cost centers who'll be funding the work, and you'll pay a bit in project management and oversight that you might not see explicitly in the retainer (unless you ask for it.)

What other areas work well with retainers? Measurement and strategy. Retainers on this type of work spreads out the cost and makes it more predictable for you.

3. Setting expectations is crucial.

Set expectations not only the end results but also on key performance indicators along the way. You can't hit a grand slam if no one is on base, so KPIs should look at singles and doubles as well as home runs.

To make sure expectations are in line, you NEED to have a strong strategy and plans. Here at True Digital, we use the AMMO planning session to align audiences, objectives, messaging and measurement.

Research also plays an important role — don't neglect it! Nearly every planning template for our work starts with research.

In the end, if you do your research and planning (Who are my audiences/stakeholders? What do we want them to think, feel or do? What is my message architecture to accomplish those objectives, and how should I deliver and gather feedback about them?), you can then evaluate your team to see if you're appropriately staffed. The answers to these questions will tell you explicitly what role you need an agency for, if you need one at all.

Want to learn more about how we partner with clients? Explore some of our case studies.

see case studies

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