Those after-school specials were right: Relationships are built on trust and communication. You should be able to share everything and lean on your partner for support. You get out of the relationship what you put into it.
How to find your agency
When you’ve hired an agency to help you with your content marketing strategy, you have to know how to get the most from that relationship. Otherwise, you may be leaving potential leads and sales on the table. If you’re willing to let that agency in, maybe even tell them some competitive secrets and embarrassing fail stories, they can better work their magic, maybe even hitting the sweet spot the first time out of the gate.
It’s obvious but needs to be said — find an agency that you trust, not just mentally but legally. If you need to have them sign a nondisclosure agreement, then do it. Get those types of hurdles out of the way early so the information sharing can begin in earnest. The most success usually comes when you feel comfortable treating the agency as an extension of your own team; it’s appropriate to know the team members who will be working on your projects, who will be handling issues, and who are in the chain of command. Ultimately, if you find you don’t trust your agency, it’s time to be frank and try to address the issues with them or start looking for a new one. Signs that you don’t trust your agency:
- You question their motivations when they suggest new strategies.
- You feel like you’re constantly being sold new services.
- You’re concerned they don’t have an understanding of your business strategy.
- You feel like you always have to come up with the answers to challenges, that they’re just there to do what you tell them to.
Not only should you be sharing information but also communicating what success looks like. Open up the playbook and show what really matters, what numbers need to move, who needs to be impressed or appeased, and what your team members require in order to be successful in the field. Pass along internal memos, PowerPoint decks, raw sales numbers, and customer information — it all serves to better inform agency team members and allow them to deliver their best work. You might find the agency’s inquiries or dedication to strategy exhaustive, but it’s necessary so they’re on the right page.
Signs that your agency doesn’t get it:
- They prescribe the same thing to address every ailment (and it happens to be the one thing they’re good at).
- They’re having to regularly re-work projects because they’re not hitting the mark.
In the end, it’s the old Jerry Maguire “help ME, help YOU” approach, and it’ll work as long as you let the agency in. Do it from the beginning, and you won’t have to endure an embarrassing locker room outburst.