How to get the most out of working with an agency

Natalie Welch
Natalie Welch

Not all businesses are ready to work with a marketing agency! 

While that might seem a little counterintuitive coming from an agency owner, it really is true. The key reason for this is that no one knows what to expect when you start working with one, so often, the relationship begins with unrealistic ideals of what this will be.

So, this article aims to help you get the best-outsourced marketing support for your business and set you up for long-lasting success with your agency (or agencies). We have also included a helpful quiz (click here to skip the rest of the really useful content to see it) to help you decide whether you need a freelancer, an agency, or it’s time to hire someone.

Things you need to consider when outsourcing your marketing to an agency:

1. Resource

When you work with an agency, you are either adding more expertise to your marketing team or adding a marketing team to your business. 

The key difference here is that the latter means that the agency will do most of the consulting and planning to inform the tactical delivery. 

So if you do not have a marketing person in-house – this is when more of the outsourced budget is spent versus seeing the output. Even in this instance, there needs to be an internal point of contact that:

  • Creates/completes briefs
  • Collates and provides meaningful feedback
  • Signs work off
  • Keeps the marketing agency in the loop with what is happening in the business
  • Collaborates with the agency to produce ideas

To get the most from an agency, we highly recommend that you hire a marketing manager who works with the agency when financials allow. Having someone in-house listening to what is happening is incredibly valuable and means more reactive activities can occur. In addition, the agency partners then get to deliver their expertise more effectively. 

Here’s our top tip:

Be clear with your marketing agency on how to get the most out of your precious time. Prefer weekly round-up emails? We can do that. Want a fortnightly meeting? Sure. A marketing agency aims to be as helpful as possible but needs your input.

2. Budget

We all know agencies’ day rates seem more than hiring someone. But you do get a flexible workforce of experts in various fields at the end of the phone when you need them. So it is actually a cheaper way to have a marketing team to hand without HR requirements!

You also tend to get an account manager (AM) with a marketing agency. And if you are fortunate (like our TFG clients!), these AMs have a marketing background. That critical friend is there to ensure you get the best bang for your buck; plus, it’s not a service that is charged for. WHAT?  Yep, account management is something that is not charged for. Now don’t confuse consultancy and strategic planning for account management – account managers are there to keep you happy, move projects along, and talk through what is coming up while throwing around ideas.

A rough rule of thumb is that agencies allocate between 10 – 20 % of the time, on top of what you pay them for, to account management. So if you pay your agencies for 50 hours per month – expect 5 – 10 account management.

Top tip:

Communicate effectively. You can get so much out of account managers if you communicate effectively and give timely feedback. Otherwise, they become glorified PAs, which wastes their skill set when you could be utilising that FREE time with creative idea planning.

3. Energy

Energy is a two-way street. 

An agency will continue to give if they are getting something back. Now we don’t mean to the degree we put in – we understand that won’t always be the case. But if it’s constant tumbleweed or vague feedback with words such as “can we make this more [insert random word]”, “I don’t like this, but don’t know why”, “

It feels like the scene in friends where Chandler hits his head against the table.

Top tip:

Time blocking to be able to give effective feedback is something that works with a number of our clients. Along with scheduled in 15 min weekly catch up calls to ensure that there is a flow of dialogue beyond emails and Click Up notifications.

4. Have the basics figured out and written down

Whether you are a start-up or an established business, if you are not clear on what your business offers, your marketing agency won’t be either. 

Fonts, colours, words you love and hate etc., we can work through together. But if you don’t know:

  • what you offer,
  • why are you offering it,
  • what your goals are, 

It will be difficult to build a plan that provides meaningful ROI. And that is often where the rub comes in. The agency is trying everything – but without clear objectives, conversion points and goals to monitor, it feels a bit finger in the wind-ish.

Top tip:

Start at the top with a marketing strategy which every campaign should lead back to.

5. Trust

Now, you have come to us as experts in the field. So you need to have trust that we will do our best and only be making recommendations because we know from our experience what needs to happen if you want to reach your goals.

Some marketing will always be very “let’s try it and see”. However, there are fundamental foundations that you need to have in place to make the more creative/fun activities work, as well as ensure your marketing lands where it needs to.

Here are a couple of examples of what we mean.

Your website has not been optimised and left to rot …

There is a project before you do anything to send people to it. No cleverly created campaign is going to land if where your audience is sent is a disappointment in comparison. Poor UX, speed and keyword-stuffed messaging will just leave a sour taste in their mouths.

There are no brand guidelines..

Your logo and branding have been used in many ways across the WWW and in print. There is work to bring synergy to the company so the audience subliminally starts to think of your brand V as a competitor.

You will also need to trust that the agency you choose will not share any of your inside business information. It is critical that we know to be the creative experts you have hired.

We will need access to your analytical data, website and other marketing tools. The more we can access and analyse, the faster we can get our feet under the table and use our expertise to the fullest.

Top tip:

Just go with your gut when it comes to trust. You will know who the right partner is for you.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of how to get the most out of working with a marketing agency.

The overriding element that touches all of these is communication.

You can’t outsource marketing and leave it like you can some other parts of the business. Your marketing team, or partners to your marketing team, need to know what is going on to ensure we carry out work that meets your goals. In a nutshell, we can’t help you to positively impact your bottom line if we haven’t been told the why.

More ways to keep your marketing agency in the loop:

💡Invite us to sales meetings, company conferences, awards, expos and more.

💡Take us on the road with you.

💡Have big quarterly catch-ups and smaller fortnightly ones to ensure nothing has changed.

Quiz to find out if working with a marketing agency is right for your business right now.


Looking to flexi-extend?

Want to talk about setting up a marketing agency relationship that works for you? Drop me an email or take a look at my diary to set up a no-obligation chat.

A team photo of of the Typeface Group in Black and White