Tough Talks Made Easy: How to Work with an Agency: A Conversation with Marketing
Written by Manasi Gaje
Agencies and consultancies are a valuable source of guidance and hands-on support, helping Marketing teams to clear through tasks with greater efficiency and execute more ambitious projects that may otherwise be out of reach. Organizations with all sorts of technical and resource needs can benefit from a strong agency partnership, but it’s best to establish clear priorities and learn how to manage the relationship before deciding to approach one.
If your Marketing team is considering working with an agency for the first time, or leadership wants to see greater results from your current agency relationships, this Tough Talks Made Easy is for you. We’ll discuss how to work with an agency amidst various situational demands and how to communicate optimally with your partners. This will help you explain to your CMO and other Marketing colleagues how to get the most out of working with an agency.
Put your priorities first
There’s a tendency for some organizations to hesitate when it comes to agencies, fearing the risk of being locked into a contract or pouring money into a resource they don’t use.
If the decision-makers in your Marketing team have been reluctant to work with an agency for similar reasons, make this point: if there’s more work to do in MOPs than you have the bandwidth to handle, an agency is a supplemental solution that lets you take care of it. If you know what you want to achieve from working with an agency, whether your goals involve completing particular projects or seeing certain results for the business, then the investment makes sense.
Before approaching an agency to take on projects, leadership and MOPs together need to establish where the most pressing needs are in the team; because these priorities will determine the kinds of service providers you need to look for and how you can best utilize them.
Comfortable budget but short on time? Hiring an agency to take on more practical tasks frees up your team for higher-level strategic work—and if a project is particularly time-sensitive, the extra assistance makes it possible to reach your target turnaround time within an agreed scope.
Lower budget with time to spare? Using an agency’s experts to chart the correct course forward with more complex projects is a wise use of your time. Whether you’re looking to implement a new marketing automation platform or get started with attribution, consultants can interpret and communicate the impact of the changes you’re looking to make and guide you through the steps to take for long-term success.
If you’re short on both, it can be trickier to position the value of an agency to leadership. What your CMO should understand is that you’re better off spending more upfront to get work done the right way; in the long run, mistakes are more expensive and arduous to correct. In a crunch for time and budget, leadership urgently needs to establish top priorities with MOPs and share them proactively with your agency, so they’re best equipped to meet your needs within scope.
To build a partnership based on trust and transparency, both parties need to uphold the rules of engagement. Your Marketing colleagues are right to have certain expectations of an agency—getting work done on time to a high standard, managing internal stakeholders, pivoting when necessary to match the changing needs of your business—but should also prepare to support the agency to deliver.
That means being open and honest about your goals for the working relationship. Whatever performance expectations Marketing has, team members using the agency need to proactively offer relevant information about your business, campaigns, and priorities. For any project you work on together, share resources and access permissions in a timely and forthcoming manner, be courteous in all communications and timelines you establish, and offer support and feedback to help the agency perform more effectively.
Your Marketing team might approach an agency with great ambitions—but for all the help an agency can provide, they aren’t magic. Your partners are human beings with multiple priorities to balance, and many projects in MOPs involve working through a long series of steps and processes. Getting attribution off the ground in a matter of weeks, for example, isn’t a viable scope to present to an agency.
To keep expectations realistic, your team should acknowledge that progress takes time. Clearly communicate what you want to achieve, sharing relevant KPIs and metrics with your agency as you approach each milestone, but do so with the understanding you’ll get results gradually.
A strong partnership
An agency’s expertise and support help to make your MOPs function successful. Deciding to work with one is a sign that you’re delegating effectively to complete important projects to a high standard. Collaborate with your CMO and Marketing team to identify clear goals, share them proactively with your agency, and mutually establish a realistic scope for delivery; these are the ingredients of a partnership that gets results.
Whatever your organization needs, Revenue Pulse is here to help.