I am the first point of contact for new clients inquiring about using our services. I have listed some things I’ve noticed that will help get the best work out of your creative agency.
1. Be transparent
When first interacting with the Sales or Business Development contact, I’ve noticed that some people tend to be vague and guarded. And rightly so as many sales people have received half baked training and thus will try to sell their service way too early in a new relationship. If the sales person you first talk to creates any irritation in you, or you get an intuitive feeling that it’s not the right fit, do the practical thing and find a polite way to wrap up the call. Don’t pretend to be interested and have them work on a proposal and then dodge their follow up. But trust that those feelings are an indication that the fit is not right.
On the other hand, if the sales person is responsive and knows how to create a space for you to express your needs and the details of your situation, really open up and lay it out there. Ask specific questions. Speak candidly about areas of concern, especially if you have had problems in the past that you are trying hard to avoid again. When you do this, you are giving a lot in the process. This in turn encourages the sales person to do the same and through a full disclosure, you will get a good sense of where the chemistry is best. When you are open and forthright like this, the firm that is a good match will get very engaged in trying to demonstrate their superiority for the work. When you feel someone working hard to win your account, that is something to note.
2. Pay attention to timelines
It is not good for the agency or the client when projects drag on. Engaging a marketing agency and then being unresponsive allows the project to drift, meander and lose some of its fire. While the agency should keep the project to the timeline, they can’t if you are slow to provide feedback or don’t prioritize getting the needed info back to your account manager. So go into the engagement not as though this is a vendor who will “just have to wait until you are ready’ but instead, think of them as peers or co-workers who need something from you. When you get engaged like this, the energy of the project will inspire wonderful breakthroughs. Creative projects seem to have an energy and a timing. Letting things cool off at the wrong time will lead to less than stellar end results.
3. Appreciate what you like, speak up about what you are unsure of
True, it’s not your job to be a cheerleader to your agency. But you will find your team willing to go way farther to please you when you express excitement and gratitude for good work. The tendency is to get the work and show it around internally but forget the anticipation of your agency to hear the feedback.
By the same token, try to avoid criticizing things you don’t like. Instead, ask what the thought or reasoning was behind certain choices. If that still doesn’t fit for you, then express a concern or desire to see something new.