How to get the most out of your advertising agency

Don't just sit back and let your agency lead your campaign: it's important to actively engage in your advertising team

When it comes to getting more sparks out of your business, many marketers turn to creative agencies for ideas, execution and distribution of new campaigns. Rather than just sitting back and letting your agency remain at the driver’s wheel, however, it’s important to actively engage in your agency relationships. The very best agencies are powerhouses at generating ideas and bringing them to life. You may discover a marketing message which resonates with the general public that you weren’t even aware of. In fact, the best value from working with a creative firm is the intricate ways in which they make you to start reimaging the very brands you have spent your career developing.

Before you hand over the keys to your marketing department and green light your agency’s ideas, you’ll want to step back and set benchmarks for what you expect out of the engagement. Start by building out a scope of work document so you know exactly what to expect, as well as a framework for deliverables. While the relationships may be driven by a creative process, you need to retain a core business obligation underneath. Balancing a creative and data-driven business process can help you to leverage a successful advertising agency relationship.

Look for a vertically integrated agency

As important as creative design or display media might be for your brand, only an agency that understands how to integrate marketing across media can get the best possible results. If you choose an agency solely on a design idea, then you may find the results are lacking when it comes to execution. The ability to audit and adjust your original marketing plan by adjusting media buys, positioning, list segmentation and pricing shifts is as important as the underlying idea itself. A strong agency should have expertise in each element of a campaign from launch to optimisation, including being able to take a core message across print, broadcast, online and traditional media.

Review the agency’s pitch and track record

Before entering into an Agency of Record relationship, make sure you carefully consider the firm’s track record. Ideally you want to identify a firm that will be successful in the long run. You should make sure they have the capabilities, organisation and talent to deliver on their pitch. The marketing world is full of people with good ideas but a lack of drive to follow through on their completion. When hearing a pitch pay attention to their level of detail, preparation and ability to answer tough questions before making a final decision. In this context, maintain your role as a standard bearer to ensure agency campaigns exceed benchmarks as measured with hard numbers.

Schedule regular meetings, updates and project goals

Your agency is running with a great new campaign and you’re generating a lot of positive brand buzz. Even under an ideal scenario, make sure you have scheduled regular updates on the quantified progression of your campaigns. If your brand is generating buzz in advance of a launch, get hard numbers in terms of citations, Web traffic and inbound leads. When working on a product launch make sure you have a full set of data on sales, response times and up-sells of your existing customers. Meeting regularly with your agency to review both successes and failures can help you to adapt your messages and media buys to a shifting landscape.

Keep an eye on market trends

Even if you have a successful campaign that’s over performing, never assume the marketplace is going to remain constant — it’s not. Your competition will adapt to your ideas, consumer sentiment may shift and general economic winds may blow in a new direction. Be prepared to have your agency plan adjustments in your campaign based upon a variety of scenarios even if it seems to be playing out quite well at the current moment.

Always maintain an active dialogue with your agency about how your competition is responding as well as how consumers are adjusting their buying habits. The most successful campaigns continue to raise the bar with new creative ideas, offers and implementation in order to maintain a forward looking outlook. By establishing a reliable connection with your agency and a firm pulse on your market, you can leverage their creativity to rise to the top of your industry.

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