Working with an Ad Agency

April 8, 2019

With a strong economy that is expected to continue expanding, there are more and more companies in all industries looking for marketing and advertising partnerships so they can expand and grow with it. Many of these companies have never worked with an agency before and don’t understand how a client/agency relationship works.

There’s no right or wrong formula. There is only what’s right or wrong for each side and what each party is willing to accept.

Below are six things clients, whether new to advertising or experienced pros, should understand when partnering with an agency. Keep these things in mind and you’ll have a long, inspiring relationship.

  1. Know why you need an agency and be clear what challenge you want them to solve. Be sure to have your needs well-defined and be very clear on your goals and objectives. Advertising agencies won’t solve internal product or service issues. They’ll alert you to these issues, but they won’t solve them.
  2. Strive for an agency that is willing to push the boundaries and isn’t just a “yes man.” If you hire an agency and are telling them exactly what to do, it defeats the purpose of why you hired them in the first place. An agency is your partner and should lead your company to meet business objectives and goals by inspiring your audience to buy.
  3. The purpose of an agency is not to be your golf buddy. While good business can be done on a golf course or a fishing boat, overly friendly relationships can be bad for business due to expectations other than work getting in the way of decision-making. Know the line and keep a balance between work and play.
  4. Agencies want the CEO involved from the start. They want to see that the CEO acknowledges the CMO and other officers and that there’s trust between them. Agencies want people who have authority making decisions. There’s nothing more devastating than going down a road and then learning that road was wrong – all because the decision maker wasn’t involved. Agencies will bill you for it and rightfully so.
  5. Assign a budget. But, be prepared for the agency to come back with ideas to meet that budget and ideas that exceed that budget, which may be needed to achieve your desired goals. Often, agencies will find additional requirements when they get into the depths of the project. Be open to this discussion. They’re not trying to rob you. They’re just trying to be honest.
  6. Lastly, don’t hire an agency just because they have experience in your industry. Hire an agency for the way they think and the unique solutions they have developed for other companies. A good agency can advertise anything. Get out of your comfort zone to see opportunity (which is hard to do). But if you do, fresh and inspiring things will come of it.

Before diving into your next agency relationship, consider this advice, and hopefully you can avoid another all-too-soon RFP process.