Onboarding meeting with a digital marketing agencyYou’ve decided to work with a marketing agency and picked the right one for you. So now what? You will go through an onboarding process which will often involve:

  1. Meeting relevant members of the team, including your account or project manager.
  2. Creating a project plan, a timeline for deliverables and agreeing on regular meetings or check-ins.
  3. Getting you on the system if the agency has a client management portal
  4. Signing agreements and terms.

Although the process can differ from agency to agency, the ‘onboarding period’ is always a critical time for establishing your working relationship, parameters and expectations. If you are left with questions at this important time, speak up, as it will set the tone for the rest of your working relationship. The following are tips to help you do this at the beginning and at other key stages in your working relationship with a marketing agency.

Define your marketing and business goals

Be clear about what you want to achieve in business terms from your marketing efforts. It may seem obvious, but often, we’ll get a new business enquiry where a quote is requested for a new website, social media work or SEO. We will always ask why that particular type of marketing work has been asked for and ensure that it is the right fit for their business goals, timeline and budget, but not every agency will. If you’re clear on the business goals that your marketing will support, it’s easier to set up marketing measurements that demonstrate a return on investment in the long term.

Patience is a virtue when it comes to marketing

Marketing takes time, but some marketing methods take longer than others. Much like the previous point, your timelines should be discussed and any expectations managed before you embark on a working relationship. If you’re committing to an ongoing marketing retainer, allow a year to see results. You will go through multiple stages in this time, including:

  • A research phase – to understand your position in the market, your audience and your product/service.
  • Set up – templates, plans, accounts and the mechanisms needed to do your work will be created.
  • Fixes – it may be that in areas like SEO that some technical fixes need to be made before proactive work can commence.
  • Production – whether it’s SEO, PR, email marketing, content marketing or social media, this ongoing work will look different, and the amount of time you have dedicated to the work will impact the speed of your progress.
  • Reporting and recommendations – whether you have monthly, quarterly or ad hoc reports, or a combination, expect reports on the work done, its impact and recommendations on the next steps. Most marketing work requires tweaks along the way as we learn more about what works best. This is particularly true at the beginning and being responsive to this feedback is most constructive at this stage.

Allow for work on your side and respond promptly

While you have outsourced marketing because you don’t have the time or expertise to manage part or all of it in-house, your input will still be needed to:

  • Approve work or provide feedback.
  • Give information for any materials that require technical or industry expertise.
  • Review reports with recommendations so that the recommendations can be approved.

Working with an agency should be a collaboration rather than relinquishing or outsourcing all responsibility for your marketing. Always remember your expertise is still a critical factor in the success of marketing work. Delays can have a severe knock-on effect on where deliverables can be achieved; the bigger the project, the more detrimental any delay can be. Suppose you’re working on website development. In that case, you should have been provided with a Project Plan or GANTT chart, which will help you understand your areas of responsibility when you need to return feedback or provide information and discuss if you feel you will need more leeway.

Ultimately, the sooner you can respond, the more quickly you will see results and a return on investment.

Communicate your communication preferences with your marketing agency

We understand that people prefer to communicate and receive information in different ways and have varying levels of technical experience within their own systems and processes, so we try to accommodate preferences. While we have a set of ways we usually operate, we’ve learnt over the years that no two accounts are the same. Whether you prefer to communicate entirely over email, feel a conversation is crucial for getting things done, like detailed sets of information or just the most critical points, make it clear to your agency. The sooner you and your agency can establish a way of communicating that works for you, the easier you will both find working together.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to make the most of your new marketing agency relationship. If you haven’t picked an agency and are just deciding whether working with a marketing agency would work for you, you can read our post ‘How to choose the right marketing agency’ or why not get in touch to discuss how we could support your business goals.


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