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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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You don't want an outside marketing agency. You want a marketing partner

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I have been a marketer for close to 15 years now. A large portion of my experience as a marketer has been on the client side, while I worked for both non-profit and for profit organizations in a marketing capacity. Now, as the owner of a small marketing agency for the past three years (happy anniversary to us!), I can offer a few tips on how to reap the rewards of a healthy client-agency relationship.

First, clear your mind of terrible stereotypes created by TV shows like 'Mad Men.' Modern marketing is not about smoke-filled conference rooms, scotch and infidelity (and if you happen to engage with a firm that meets that description, run away as quickly as you can!). Instead, think of your marketing agency as an extension of your own internal marketing department. If you don't have a marketing department, think of your new partners as your personal marketing department.

As with any other type of relationship, you must trust your chosen partner and be willing to share information with them. Don't just hire a marketing professional and expect them to perform miracles on their own because they won't. To perform well, your marketing firm needs to be kept fully in the loop. Share as much as you can with them about your business in general, your sales goals and your strategic plans. A good way to prevent anxiety is to simply sign a non-disclosure agreement in tandem with your service contract. This way, you'll be able to comfortably provide your marketing professionals with pertinent information they'll need to succeed without fear of being compromised.

Oftentimes, people feel particularly uncomfortable about sharing their budgets with their marketing agency. To many, it is like sharing their household income in public. However, your marketing plan is highly dependent on the amount of funds you can allocate to each activity, making the discussion of your budget a critical component of your overall marketing strategy.

Another point that is often overlooked: In order for a client-agency relationship to be successful, you must be willing to provide your marketing partners with constructive feedback. Be sure to explain what you like and dislike about their work, while providing them with concrete guidance for improvement. As you would with your employees, make time for your marketing professionals, answer all of their questions and allow them to immerse themselves in your business.

Vetted marketing professionals follow many validated industry best practices, and it is not in their best interest to be reckless with your campaign. However, as a client, it is important to understand the risks involved with each activity. After all, if anything is certain in marketing, it is that nothing is 100 percent guaranteed. No marketing professional in this world has the secret recipe for success. If they did, they would not share it. Nevertheless, trained marketers know how much risk to take and when to pull back when the response is not what they expected. You can only find out what works best for your brand if you try it at least once. As long as you keep your eyes on the big picture and focus on your ultimate goal, you'll see that throughout your campaign some activities will be better than others.

If you see something you don't like, pause for a moment and think about it. Ask questions and consider your partners' ideas. Allow them to show you what they have in mind before discarding a good idea on the premise that 'we never did this before' that is one of the reasons why you hired creative professionals, after all. The business of creating great ideas is a hard one. If it were easy, there would be no market for creative people in this world. Good marketing takes time and effort, and these things cost money. So be sure you understand the process involved in the creation and execution of your marketing program before you embark on a relationship with an agency.

As a marketer, I have been on both sides of the fence: working with agencies myself as a client, and now working in an agency providing creative services to other businesses. I can assure you that if you fully understand the client-agency relationship and are open in communicating with and supporting your creative partners, your chances of achieving your marketing goals are exponentially better than if you simply try to do everything in-house. Often times, outside partners can see your brand and competition through different lenses and offer insights from a fresh perspective.


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