You’ve Signed Your New Marketing Agency. Now What?

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agency relationshipAgency Whispering… Three Key Ingredients for Success. We’ve talked through how to select the right marketing agency for your business. You’ve made it to the finish line. You’ve selected your marketing agency. Negotiations are behind you, and the promise of a great future for your brand is ahead.

How do you make sure your new, exciting relationship gets off to a great start?

First of all, at the most basic level, it takes time to establish trust. According to a recent report on

“…. It takes two years before your customers trust your brand – or, more specifically, two years for a customer to simply view your brand as one it can rely on.”

The study that was cited in the article was conducted by customer engagement company SDL, who collected data from 2,835 people in six continents, nine markets, five languages and across four generations. Not a bad sampling.

Here are three key ingredients to a successful agency relationship:

#1: Until you’re in a place of trust, do your best to make data-driven decisions.

You can’t wait two years to have your relationship hum like a well-oiled machine. During the onboarding period, certainly within the first few weeks, determine a few rules of the relationship as a team. Define:

  • How will you measure success? (You can’t manage what you can’t measure.)
    • What are the key performance metrics you’ll be measuring?
    • What is the agreed upon system of record?
    • Is there an established baseline to improve?
  • How will you report progress against goals?
    • How often? Daily? (Whoa. Set up a dashboard.) Weekly? Monthly?
    • To whom?
    • How much information do the team members want to see?
    • What do executives want to see?
  • Who are the key decision-makers in any effort? Who should be consulted?
    • At Mambo, we use a CAIRO chart to talk through every function or task of a program and define who will / will not weigh in. CAIRO outlines who – on the client side – will be:
      • Consulted about the task
      • Approver of the task
      • Informed about the task
      • Responsible for the task
      • zerO – Not involved or impacted by the task
MamboMedia_CAIRO Example
CAIRO Example

#2: Share your business goals and establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) 

Every new agency relationship should be a goal-based relationship. Any modern marketing engagement should require goal attainments. A great way to start your relationship is by sharing your business goals. I recommend spending a few hours in a kickoff session with the agency to bring your company’s key stakeholders and team members together for a discussion of your business goals.

In that meeting, you and your new agency should be able to identify and agree upon Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), or metrics, that you’ll all use to show progress against each business goal.

For example, if you’re working together improve your funnel metrics, you may establish a goal to track your funnel conversion rate at every stage of the funnel in order to zero in on areas of friction in the funnel. Funnel conversion rates become excellent KPIs.

You may have strong brand Awareness (represented by a high number of web visitors) but your ability to convert leads into Wins may represent a need for content to reduce friction at the Consideration or Preference stage. Funnel KPIs also allow you to see how you compare against industry best-practice metrics and quickly identify ways to improve your performance to get to industry standards.

Once you have business goals and KPIs declared, everyone can mobilize to attain and report against them.

#3: When things slide – and they will – make a call right away

No matter how tightly your goals are defined, your responsibilities outlined, and your progress captured and reported, something will go awry. Especially while your new agency is getting to know your markets, products and people. So the minute you feel something – or someone slip – make a call. Have a conversation with your agency representative. I recommend you connect with, in this order:

  • Your main contact – usually your account manager or project manager
  • The agency executive on your account

Be prepared to describe the issue and give examples, where possible. It’s important to help your agency counterpart understand your standards and your expectations with a sense of urgency. Both parties will waste time, energy and money without your timely feedback.

Be reasonable and calm as you address the issue, and let the agency respond to your concerns in their way. You’ll learn a lot about them during this process. A good partner will act quickly to address your concerns.

high-performance-marketing-planThe bottom line: the way you treat each other early on will determine how quickly you can truly develop trust in one another.

Follow these recommendations to get your agency relationship off on the best possible path to a long-term, rewarding and highly effective engagement for both of you.

To help you get started defining your KPIs and metrics for success, Act-On has developed a guide – The High-Performance Marketing Plan: A 6-Step Blueprint for Exceeding Your Goals. This guide will help you and your agency determine how your programs are going, and tie their performance back to revenue so you know where you should be prioritizing your time for a more successful relationship.