- Know what you want.
You already know why you want to partner with a content creation or content marketing agency. But do your colleagues agree with you? We bet that if you were to do a Slack poll on top priorities for the project, the results would be divided.
So, break your objectives down between you. Nail the overarching goal. What does that look like, in terms of the process and deliverables? Are certain assets needed before important events or by sales deadlines? Key dates are always helpful for a content agency to know about.
This isn’t the same as setting an overall deadline for the project, though. Where possible, it’s best to let the agency do that; they’ll know what else they have coming up, and what’s realistic for their team. That means they can set dates that ensure seamless delivery of great content.
- Take joint responsibility for good communication.
Communicate your aims in your project brief. Think: scope, goals, budget, dates, deliverables. They’re the key ingredients for a brief that an agency can work with. They’ll use it to produce a scope statement, or statement of work, that outlines what you can expect from them.
Once the project has started, it’s down to the agency to update you on progress. Ideally, you’ll have a kick-off call, followed by an outline of what happens next. But here’s the thing. Responsibility for communication shouldn’t sit purely with the agency. It’s helpful to view any project as collaborative in that respect.
Even the best of briefs leaves room for interpretation. If a content marketing agency’s involved, that’s likely because you’d value their creative input as well as their expertise. But be proactive if there’s something you’d like to discuss. Aid communication by assigning a point of contact at your end. And be sure to get back to them promptly, even if your feedback might not be glowing. That gives them time to revisit the brief and come up with something new.
Be available. Read and reply to your emails every couple of days. If an agency wants a call, meet them halfway. If their dates won’t work, suggest alternatives. Finally, and this is a challenge many clients face, make sure you’re aligned internally. Communicate well with one another. Otherwise, you’re at risk of spamming the agency with conflicting messages, which can lead to scope creep.
- Help them to help you.
Granted, it sounds like a cliché. But an agency worth its salt wants to make clients’ lives easier. And there are things you can do to facilitate that. Provide useful links or documents that will help them get it right first time. Feed back on processes as well as deliverables. If something isn’t working an agency would rather know about it so they can try different approaches.
Make us feel like part of your in-house team. As well as being forthright, celebrate shared wins. When you see success off the back of something we worked on, we’d love to know. We want to help you shout about it on LinkedIn and other social media channels.
Lastly, tell us about any internal changes as soon as you can. Staff turnover, illness, holidays or altered working hours – all of it’s helpful for us to know about. Keep us in the loop, along with your in-house colleagues, so that we can plan for contingencies.
What should you expect from a content agency in return?
A mutually beneficial partnership – and much less stress!
The right agency should feel like a seamless extension of your organisation. If the relationship’s working, it should enable them to showcase the skills of their staff. It’ll give them the motivation, space and boundaries within which to be creative, and to produce good content. You can expect your point of contact to have an impressive knowledge of each part of the project… plus military precision and organisational skills.
That means you should feel far less stressed. You should be able to produce much more effective content, and be totally satisfied with the service you’re getting, as well as the deliverables. The pre-agreed KPIs should be hit, within budget. And any minor road bumps will be smoothed out, ensuring a happy ongoing working relationship.
The final stage of working on any project is a debrief. This takes place within the agency, but they’d welcome your input. They’ll be keen to know what worked and what didn’t, from your perspective. That way, they can adapt to your needs when they work with you in the future. It’s also great to have takeaways to learn from and share with other clients. That’s one of the hallmarks of a truly great agency – willingness to adapt and learn from every single project.
Rachel is Editorial Production Manager at Thrive. She is responsible for coordinating projects as well as editing and delivering engaging health content.
Here at Thrive, we recently steered a client through the accreditation process. That got us thinking about effective ways to streamline all the preparation required before applying.
Now we’re out the other side, we’ve created ‘How to use the accreditation process to improve your health content’ – the guide we wished we’d had six months ago.
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