A Clients Take on Agency World

Article written by Kelly Murphy, brand strategy and marketing consultant (and our former client).

After decades of working on the client side of marketing, I made the switch to the consulting and agency side. 

It’s been quite an eye opening, and truth be told, I have a lot of remorse for my bad habits. Coming to terms with my transgressions. Now I’m seeing the world through ‘agency eye’s I would like to share some nuggets of wisdom I’ve had to come to terms with. If you’re a Marketing Manager or product owner etc, here are some of my learnings since switching:

1. You’re not the only one. Any agency worth its fees will never let you know there is someone else demanding its time and attention. I’ve managed dozens of agencies over the years and most times I felt like I was the only client. This was even more true with agencies on retainer. Those relationships were like an extension of my in-house team and I often demanded the same level of dedication. But the truth is, they had a lot of clients and we were all equally important. It’s important to remember, and be sympathetic, next time you fail to plan appropriately.

Your agency is often being pulled in lots of different directions and to fulfil ‘emergency’ projects often means they have to ‘up-scale’, even temporarily, to complete your demands adding overheads and stress. Be mindful of asking for work ‘yesterday’, unless you’re happy to cover the extra fees.

2. The true cost of Revisions: Revisions are expected but changing the scope, deliverables or creative direction should be treated as an addendum or a completely new project. Of course, never accept subpar work and address any concerns sooner rather than later. Agencies are happy to deliver what you really want but you’ll need to have more money in the budget if a revision turns into a new vision.

3. Let’s talk about Budget: Simply put, it’s best to be upfront about your budget from the very beginning. I know, you try to stretch the budget as far as you can, and you certainly don’t want to overpay, but stating the budget from the beginning will actually help manage your costs.

Agencies are not in business to overcharge and there really are variable costs on everything from concept to delivery.

If you don’t know what you can get for the money ask for proposals for the top and bottom of a range. Be prepared to negotiate because it’s likely that you’ll want something in between. Just don’t expect top end work for a low end budget. If you’re comparing quotes from different agencies be sure to compare the details and not only the total cost. 

4. Respect studio hours. We live in a wonderfully connected world but let’s be real, work requests (email, sms or otherwise) can also be intrusive.

Now that you have access to creative and technical talent all over the planet it’s time to be mindful of time zones. With proper planning, time zones shouldn’t be an issue. If you require on demand assistance for things like app support or crisis communications, that should be agreed upon from the start.  Be sure to discuss working hours and be willing to meet your agency halfway, we also find project management tools, such as Trello, a really useful way to book in work and have complete transparency and reassurance that your agency are ‘on it’.

5. Ideas aren’t free. An agency should show value during the first meeting to gain your confidence and demonstrate how they can make a difference. As discussions proceed, expect to see relevant examples of previous work and a broad overview of how they would approach your project. But don’t ask for samples of new creative or campaign ideas before you’ve awarded them the business. 

It’s hard to keep up with the constantly changing and expanding world of marketing, which means it is critical to cultivate your agency relationships to bring your vision to life.

Be a responsible, respectful partner and you’ll achieve on brand, on budget, creative marketing every time. 

Be sure to follow Drew London on social for more industry insights. Let’s make our partnerships even better.

Kelly Murphy

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