Working with an agency is really just a relationship where both partners must work towards one goal. Even the greatest agency can’t make magic happen if they don’t get valuable input or feedback from the client. Nobody knows more about the business itself than the client. Then again, nobody knows more about advertising tactics and channels more than an agency. This knowledge must be shared. It must be combined. Only then can the whole be greater than the sum of its parts.
A good relationship is not built overnight. But all good relationships have the same things in common: mutual respect and understanding, good communication, and trust that every team member knows their part in this joint project. It sounds simple, yet is often difficult to achieve.
A team usually consists of a project manager and several experts from different fields of expertise. We strive towards one point of contact for both partners because it is the best way to keep track of tasks and priorities. Of course, the project manager, who is also the point of contact, does not have all the answers. That’s why we have other dedicated experts on the project. Ideally, we would want the same structure on the client’s side as well. But other arrangements are ok too, as long as there is one person on the client’s side who keeps track of every joint activity. Only then can we be efficient.
The right mindset for every team member is crucial. We want every team member to understand the reasons and motivation behind each and every task, and what the final goal is. It is difficult to run a successful project, if people do not understand why they are performing certain tasks. This soon leads to many unfinished tasks and failure to achieve goals. Nobody wants to execute tasks they see no purpose in. We must take time and explain everything. Only then is the motivation sufficient for the project to succeed.
Every relationship demands time investment from every team member, especially in the beginning of the project, when all parties are still trying to figure out the dynamics of the project. After the initial phases of the project have been completed, time for coordination and passing on information decreases, as we have learned how things work and who does what. The main challenge is that all new knowledge raises more questions. This is a good thing! The more questions we ask, the more we discover and the better the results.
Two reasons why things must happen fast:
1) The market and users will NOT wait for your perfect campaign. You need to beat the competition, even if your product/service is not yet perfect. Sometimes being first is more important than being perfect.
2) Each task loses its importance over time. If we are planning something far ahead, it is very likely that we will forget about it or why we wanted to do it in the first place, or some other tasks will get a higher priority. Any unfinished task will delay the project. Many delayed tasks will cause the final result to be bad.
The team has to be able to communicate and work well together. Nothing should be taken for granted – no deadline, no task, no information… Everything must be written down and communicated to the right team members. It is better to communicate the same information twice than never. Communication, in any form, takes a lot of time. But just think about how much extra time it takes to correct errors or to explain a bad campaign to your boss. I know you completely agree with me, but is this big enough of a motivation for you to communicate more in order to avoid such situations?
Sharing insights from past campaigns is essential. Why repeat the same mistakes twice? Why not take advantage of insights and improve your upcoming activities? It sounds self-evident. But how many times do you really do it? Often, both clients and agencies do not share findings with each other, testing each other to see if they can all come to the same conclusions. I can understand that. But at one point, we all need to stop doing that and start trusting each other. The more we share with each other, the easier is it to discover something new. Just remember: The whole is larger than the sum of the parts.
No matter how frequent (daily, weekly, or monthly), meetings must be scheduled in advance. Recurring meetings are motivation (or obligation for some) to get tasks done. With such a system, it is always clear, when it is necessary to finish individual tasks or what needs to be done to determine further tasks. Often, meetings are a waste of time. But they don’t have to be. If all members of the team know why they are present and they have finished all their tasks, it can hardly happen that the meeting was a waste of time.
Trust is essential. Each member of the team must believe that the rest of the team members know what they are doing and that they always have the best intention in mind. The agency must trust that the client gave them all the important information to successfully take on the project. The client must trust that agency is performing all the right activities to achieve a goal at hand. Many variables and factors can influence the project. The best thing to do is to have regular checks and clear things up as we go. But don’t get stuck on details or we will never finish anything.
We know what affects successful cooperation, yet it can still happen that cooperation is not as successful as we would like it to be. And that is ok, as long as we can pinpoint the thing that is dragging us down. If we can pinpoint it, we can solve it – most of the time, anyway. Sincere communication is the key to success.