When businesses start working with agencies or marketing contractors for the first time it can take a while to establish a comfortable rapport. What starts off as excitement to finally have dedicated resource onboard can quickly become frustrating or upsetting if you’re new to working with agencies and contractors.
Ultimately there is no right answer to how often you should be asking for updates. However, if a contractor or agency suggests quarterly updates and little contact in between I would be concerned.
Each project and partnership is unique. For some, daily updates might be necessary and for others fortnightly is sufficient, this can also change throughout the time you work together or based on the types of projects you’re working on. Don’t be afraid to set out terms and guidelines for updates from partners before you start working with them to avoid feeling like there are long silences or updates that feel too regular.
Here are some tips on questions to ask before you start working with a partner to help manage expectations.
Timings Make sure you have communicated what timings you are expecting delivery within and work with your partners to ensure it is achievable. If there are other considerations that impact timings make sure you are open and transparent about that. For example, if you’ve hired someone to deliver a website and someone else to do the branding the website timeline is dependent on the branding being delivered on time.
Process Ask about the process that your contractor or supplier goes through. How do they come up with the final solution? Are there pieces within that process that you could benefit from understanding further to know who else to include from the business? Are there points that you might want to make changes pending the outcome? Are there milestones that you want to provide sign off on, before they progress to the next stage? The more you can understand on the process the better you can manage how best to work with your partner.
Cost (financial, time & resources) Financial cost is obvious. Everyone will always ask how much something will cost before they start working and have that agreed. However, make sure you have established what internal resources you need to commit. You may want to have someone on your existing team playing a part or partnering with your contractor or agency to deliver a piece of work being the subject matter expert. Equally, your suppliers may not be able to deliver without dedicated resource or time from you.
KPIs, measurement & success What does success look like? Make sure you are transparent about what you think good looks like. Good agencies and contractors will work with you to identify realistic KPI’s and measurements in line with what you’re trying to achieve.
Trust Pick a partner you can trust. If you feel like they charge too much, or they are following an agenda that is contrary to yours then find another marketing partner. Trust is important, you want to work with contractors and agencies that feel like an extension of your team that you can collaborate with to generate value. If it doesn’t feel like this and you don’t feel you can be transparent, they are not the partner for you.
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