We’re in This Together
BVK | Thinking Big
I recently attended a conference where one of the breakout sessions was titled “How to Keep Your Agency in Check.” Unfortunately, the title was completely accurate. This was an entire conference session dedicated to demonstrating that agencies should clearly be put in their places, kept close tabs on, and are never to be trusted.
The presenter’s key message was crystal clear: when you’re not getting good work, issue an RFP. Having spent my entire career in agencies, I was completely dumbfounded by this advice. I looked around to find that most were listening attentively and jotting down notes. I had to ask myself… is this really what clients think of agencies?
I beg to differ.
You hire an agency for a very specific purpose– to bring a marketing strategy to life in ways that genuinely move people to act. It’s a job that requires a serious craft.
It requires professionals that are equally comfortable with analytical left-brained thinking as well as intuitive, creative right-brained thinking that inspires. BVK invests in learning each client’s business, debating strategy, and critically reviewing a campaign’s ability to deliver on its objectives. If an agency isn’t incredibly passionate about your business, you simply hired the wrong one. Here’s what I was hoping that breakout session had covered instead:
- Invest in Relationships – The most productive client/agency relationships are those based on mutual trust and respect. Think of and treat your agency as a marketing partner, not simply a vendor. They’re an extension of your own team. And the more integrated they are into the fabric of your organization, the better chance they have of truly understanding and fulfilling your needs.
- Be Open to Change — It’s worth a reminder that you hired an agency for a reason — hopefully because they bring a unique skillset that complements your organization. Listen to them. Be open to doing things differently. If you want the best work, then give those creating it the time and freedom required to deliver.
- Focus on Clarity — Be specific and don’t beat around the bush. It’s imperative that everyone is laser-focused on what we’re hoping to accomplish together. Regular and honest communication is critical.
- Emphasize Quality over Quantity — Let’s stop feeling the pressure to do lots of things and instead focus on doing the right things, better. It’s about aligning effort behind the best opportunities for true business impact. Let’s focus the priority on the brand and make quality connections with target audiences.
- Be a Leader — if you’re working in a multi-agency environment, you’re going to need to play a key role in fostering the level of integration desired. Carve out clear roles and responsibilities for each partner, including metrics for which they are both individually and collectively accountable. Remember, you are the glue holding this team together.
Evaluating the performance of agency partners is critically important and should be done regularly and at key milestones within the relationship.
That said, agency evaluation shouldn’t be treated the same way you would approach an employee evaluation within your own organization. Chances are, given the creative nature of the agency business, your cultures differ greatly. Focus on whether or not the agency has moved your business forward. Were key objectives met, and if not, does the agency have clear strategies in place to correct any missteps? Do you enjoy working together? After all, this is advertising and marketing. It’s a career we chose because we think it is our passion.
Make no mistake, our clients are who BVK exists to serve, but not at the expense of a trusted, valued exchange of ideas and expertise. The most successful client-agency relationships are mutually beneficial, built on trust and shared investment for success. Let’s stop keeping each other “in check” and instead let’s go make something great together.
Learn more about how BVK fosters positive, impactful client relationships that create category-changing ideas for brands that create life-changing experiences.