Tips for Working with a Creative Agency

Congratulations! You’ve taken the big step of hiring a team of creative strategists to up your content game—but you might be wondering, now what? Partnering with an agency is a surefire way to boost the success of your business, but you’ll save yourself (and the creative team) a lot of headache by following a few simple tips from yours truly. Get ready, set, GO: Here’s everything you need to know about working with a creative team to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Share your vision—in detail.

Listen, we can’t read your mind. (And even if we could, we’d probably opt not to.) But that doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in what you have to say, especially when it comes to your vision for your company. Any agency worth their salt will want to know exactly what your wants, needs, and thoughts are going into the process, so don’t hesitate to speak your mind. Not only does this give the creative team a chance to get to know you and your business, but it also paves the way for clear and open communication from the get-go—something that’s of the utmost importance in building a solid brand-agency relationship (which we’ll get to later).

Here are a few simple questions to ask yourself before meeting with an agency:

1) Who is your audience?
2) Why should they care?
2) How will you measure success?

Having a good idea of what your company’s all about—and what makes it stand out—will help us come up with a message unique to your business that’s begging to be shared with the rest of the world.

Remember: we don’t make your bottom line, we just get you there.

Check in regularly

Relationships take effort, and the client-agency relationship is no different. Collaboration is key! Don’t wait until the last minute to provide feedback: Pose your questions, set your expectations, schedule regular meetings, and voice your concerns as we go. Silence on the client end not only delays a project (or pushes us into crisis mode as the deadline gets squeezed), but also makes it harder for us to schedule resources and keep costs in check. If the project owner has trouble getting sign-off or consensus from senior management (which is not uncommon), at least keeping us in the loop is helpful. The more transparent you are on the spot, the less often changes will have to be made—and the less time wasted—later on. Always expect a revision to deadlines if the feedback cycle gets lengthy.

Streamline the communication process

While it may be tempting to get your whole team involved in the creative process, things can easily become confusing or fall through the cracks when more than two or three people are communicating at a time—especially in the digital space (e-mail, we’re looking at you). Collaborative documents can get particularly murky and counterproductive, so make sure the agency knows who all the people are that will be commenting, as well as their relationship to the project owner. (We don’t want to be guessing which comments came from the VP versus the intern.) When it’s okay for us to begin addressing the comments, the project owner should give the green light—or, better yet, aggregate all of the comments and resolve internal discussions first.

There’s a lot of value in creating personal connections, though, so if there is a desire for some old-fashioned team-building, set aside a time to have a few members of your agency drop by your office or plan an after-work activity for both sides to get to know one another. Even just one face-to-face brainstorming session can promote authenticity, build trust, and convey the essence of your mission. Not local? No problem. Thanks to technology, connecting with virtual agencies has never been easier.

You make the final call

This goes without saying, but an agency is there to serve you. This means you get the final word on every decision. But just in case you’re wondering, there are a few simple things we kindly recommend you don’t say.

Trust in the process

By now, you should have briefed your agency on your company’s needs, outlined a budget, set a deadline, and provided as much feedback as you see fit. The rest is up to your creative team, and if they’ve done their part to earn your trust (like any good agency will), you can rest assured that everything will come together in due time. Your account manager will keep you in the loop on project drafts, timelines, costs, and the whole editorial process from start to finish, so you never have to wonder what’s going on behind the scenes. Prepare yourself for a kickass marketing strategy and materials that are sure to propel your business to new heights.

Your Virtual Editorial Desk

Here at Wordsmithie, we pride ourselves on giving our clients direct access to dedicated talent. We can complement your team structure and scale to grow or shrink to fit, according to your team’s needs, and the scope of your project. And if a little more guidance is what you’re after, we’re happy to be of service: Our “At Your Service” Bureau option gives you your very own on-call creative services department, providing your team or entire company with flexible and fast turnarounds on new editorial or quick edits and rewrites, plus killer brainstorming sessions and content strategy—all at your fingertips. (Seriously, it’ll seem like we’re one desk down.)

ABOUT Khaleelah Jones

Khaleelah Jones is a digital marketing consultant who has worked with tech startups, educational institutions and non-profits on acquisition and engagement strategy, implementation and KPI modeling. When she’s not working, she can be found reading, writing, pontificating history, yoga-ing and making up verbs.