Now that the Valentine’s roses have started to wilt, we thought we would explore a trend that has been gaining traction in the marketing world over the last couple of years. We have seen more brands moving their creative, social and development “in-house”, a process that can have many benefits. That being said, there is a commercial reality to moving teams in-house that may not always be viable for a lot of clients. That’s when bringing in an agency can make a lot of sense.

However, when working with an agency, how do you know you’re getting the most out of that dynamic? The differences in how we work and how we are structured can mean that as a marketing department you may not be using our strengths to really deliver the most value.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=”null”]Digital agencies have the creative freedom to focus solely on technology, marketing and creative design.[/inlinetweet] In contrast, in-house teams need to consider all approaches and activities within sales, branding and maintain a constant awareness of their brand. Agency pace tends to be pretty relentless, reacting to the needs of clients; client side often needs to consider the internal processes and hierarchy, with strategic focus across longer timeframes.

Like a relationship, you often have to assess your differences and work to play to each other’s strengths to complement one another.

Help us get to know you

You know your brand inside out so, help your agency become an expert in it too. The more we know about your story, your audience and the decisions made historically, the more aligned we can be when reviewing your digital strategy and challenge your requirements. Let us into your brand, and don’t be afraid to tell us both the good AND the bad.

Get us involved early

Before you start that website brief, why not speak with an agency? Humans tend to be conditioned to be skeptical and assume people are always trying to sell us something that’s in their best interests. There is validity in that, and agencies definitely have a commercial focus like your brand does – but instead of waiting to go to agencies with a fully scoped out brief on what you feel your website needs to be, use our industry knowledge to challenge your requirements and help define what your success looks like. We have found time and time again that when we help our clients at the earliest stage possible, we help reduce the amount of time internally debating which direction to take and are able to deliver a valuable solution that’s actually needed.

Align all expectations

Don’t assume “simple” means cheap. People with a background in the creative industry will get this! That ‘simple’ app that you just need to do that ‘simple’ task? Whilst we will always work to ensure you get the most cost effective solution for your budget, what you’re getting when you opt to work with an agency is research, design, user testing, workshops and expertise. I’ve had meetings with people that can’t see why an app would take so much work and investment as it was only, I quote, “a button on a phone”! As hard as it may seem, don’t allow preconceived notions to determine the true value of the solution, because the work that goes in behind the scenes may surprise you. We can also help you to demonstrate that value of digital internally. So many times we speak with Heads of Marketing who completely understand all of the above. Where their challenge lies is being able to show the ROI to those who control the budget. If we all work together to align expectations across all parties, both internally and externally, we will all have a much happier relationship!

Don’t suffer in silence

Give us meaningful and honest feedback. We want you to be just as proud of what we’ve created as we are – so don’t do that thing when you get a terrible haircut and say “I love it” if it isn’t right! Our approach emphasises agency-client collaboration at every stage of design, and we always start with quick, low-fi sketches and work through them together with you until everyone is on board. Only then do we progress into more detailed design, meaning that when you’re presented with the final, polished visuals, you’ll instantly recognise them as being a natural progression of the foundations we laid together.

Do you agree with these points? We’d love to hear your experiences of working with agencies. Give us a call or drop us a line if you want to strike up a happy and meaningful relationship.