Before reaching out to an agency for creative, marketing or PR work, clients should take a moment to reflect on what they should expect from the agency — as well as what the agency will expect from them — so neither party looks back in the future and says, “It didn’t work and we weren’t happy; we just grew apart.”
What clients can expect from an agency
- Availability. An agency’s job is to provide you with a service; as a result, any good agency strives to be responsive and available to serve the client throughout the process of the contracted work.
- Professionalism and experience. Agencies are hired for their expertise, right? Clients should expect to receive just that: expert strategies and projects tailored to the appropriate specifications.
- Team-oriented. Many agency workers are used to meshing coworkers, working across departments, and generally being team players. When a client is selected, they become part of the agency’s team. Clients should expect to come in contact with a variety of people who are not necessarily their “main point of contact” but are still part of the project team.
- Honesty. A big plus of hiring an agency is getting a third-party perspective of business goals and ideas for a project. With that said, sometimes an agency will recommend a client doesn’t follow through with an idea the client thought was a gold mine. Usually, agencies can see the long term implications in a different light. Clients shouldn’t take it personally and instead hear out what other options are on the table.
What the agency expects from clients
- Follow through. If an agency sets up an interview or meeting, they expect the client to show up. If a client leaves a meeting with a to-do list and a deadline, they are expected to do their part of the work. An agency is not a one-stop-shop, and clients shouldn’t expect them to be.
- Know what you want and why. A client coming in that says, “We have been struggling to market X event for the past three years and want to boost attendance by 30% this year. Doing this will increase our quarterly profit for the rest of the year by 15% and we need it done by X date,” is very likely to get hired. They shared what they wanted, why, and gave a deadline. This information shows the agency that the client means business and gives them a head start on the project since they don’t have dig for background information.
- Understanding. Agencies are full of humans. Typos, missed calls, changing deadlines and prior commitments happen to everyone. Being part of an agency does not make a person immune to regular life, so clients should stay calm if something unexpected comes up.
- Feedback. If something isn’t going how originally planned, it is the client’s responsibility to speak up about it. Otherwise, blame for poor work could fall unnecessarily on the agency when, in reality, there was a lack of communication that simply wasn’t addressed.
Clients should consider what it will really be like to work with an agency and understand what the relationship will look like before applying to an agency. Likewise, agencies should be very clear about client expectations and deliverables when negotiating a contract with a new business. It may take a little extra effort, but maintaining a strong client-agency relationship will ensure that both parties feel respected and proud of the outcome of the partnership.