We have been managing clients for over 25 years, and over that time we have learnt a thing or two about ourselves and the way clients could have handled us better to get the best results from their campaign. For businesses starting out or perhaps considering hiring your first agency it can be daunting not knowing what to expect and not having experience with agencies. We have put together a small list of key advice for any organisation considering an agency:
Have clear goals
Before you even speak to an agency you must have a clear set of business goals – what do you ultimately want to achieve from hiring an agency?
Do your research
There are 2 things you need to research when you are looking for an agency. Firstly, the obvious thing to research is what agency is right for your business to begin with. In order to effectively choose the right fit for your company you must align your business goals with each company, and find their strengths (and weaknesses if they have any).
Secondly, do your research on the profession it is that you are outsourcing. If you don’t know anything about the product or service that you are getting, then how can you possibly know if you are getting value? We have had previous clients come to us and state some outrageous costs they have been quoted for projects in the past, which is a clear case of an agency trying to take advantage of the client’s lack of knowledge in the subject area. Of course, we are not asking you to become an expert; we are suggesting you learn the basics so you have a rough idea what you should be getting in return for your cash.
Transparency from both sides
This is mainly down to the agency as they have more of the technical information to manipulate or withhold. Agencies in the past have been known to be secretive about the details of what they are doing with their time and your money. As a client you shouldn’t accept this, you should know exactly what is being done at all times through detailed reporting at intervals which you both agree on. To make sure this is happening in the right way there should be clear rules established at the beginning of any agreement with an agency, and documented for referral if necessary at a later date.
Communicate well from the start
Communication is essential to get the best from your agency. We have clients that are brilliant at this and they enable us to carry out campaigns in the most effective way. Communication is vital from the brief being precise, to how you see your vision unfolding and being conceived. If your plans or goals are changing then that needs to be communicated, perhaps the market conditions have changed since the beginning of a project and there is a new aim.
It is also important to time your communications well and not to bombard the other party with over communication, if your ranking drops a couple of places do not panic and ring your agencies office 20 times worrying that everything has gone wrong. Things can happen in the short run that look bad but are actually necessary for the long term benefit of the website.
Be collaborative at every opportunity
Working with your agency on certain projects can maximise the results of the work. As most agencies charge by units of time it can be extremely valuable to assist the agency when carrying out tasks that require less specialist skill, this way you will be able to free up the agencies time to deal with technical issues that are worth more to your business.
Collaboration is especially important when creating content for the website. There are many specifications that concerns SEO but great quality content can only be written with the input of an expert in the given subject. Whilst a content writer may be talented at writing and writing for search engines, without the technical language of the content topic it will never be deemed as quality content.
Using Ardent with confidence and trust
We have dealt with many clients in the past, and we have learnt when businesses use agencies for the first time they are not really sure what to expect, or how to handle the relationship, which is why we wrote this article. Some businesses have bad experiences with agencies because of bad practices and cowboys that aren’t competent at the profession they are selling. That has never been and will never be Ardent, get in touch with us if you have any questions about what we can do for you, and don’t forget to take this advice into account when you do.
Have you had any good, bad or ugly experiences with an agency? Or do you think we have missed anything that makes a client/ agency relationship? Let us know in the comments.