How would you go about setting expectations with a new ad agency? 

In the process of partnering with an ad agency, company managers are likely going to be a little nervous at first. They may wonder whether they have chosen the best marketing agency for their needs or if the agency will live up to their promises. 

Will you consider that this is not that much different than hiring a new employee? 

If this is the case, then setting up expectations at the outset will be essential to the rest of the relationship. And this is not only on the ad agency – you need to set up expectations with your team about how you will work together with the agency.

From contract negotiations to managing deadlines, have these discussions upfront, and everyone involved will be the better for it.

1. Establish a Regular Reporting Schedule 

It will be the agency’s job to report data to do with goals and measuring success. Establish key metrics to monitor from the getgo, and understand what software they will be used to do this. 

Most of the time, this is done monthly and is easily discussed during monthly meetings involving all key stakeholders. But everyone is different. Let the agency know if you have preferences here to ensure that expectations around regular reporting are met.

2. Be Detailed with Your Brief 

The exercise of writing a detailed brief will help your team develop a clear understanding of what’s needed and is a key part of setting expectations. 

Although it may evolve into different iterations as you move through the project, it should contain the foundational information at all times for the parties to be clear and move forward.

This will remove the need for constant consultations and remind all parties of expectations and standards.

A strong and detailed brief will help set the standards, pave the path for the revision process, and serve as a reference point.

I have years of experience offering strategic marketing support to major brands, and I have a free briefing template to help you establish expectations. Let me know if you’d like one!    

3. Let Them Set Deadlines

Handing the reins to a new agency can be challenging for some managers. Experienced ad agencies understand this and will likely have a strong onboarding process for the first few months of your contract. 

However, an important thing to note here is that the agency will be doing the creative work, and therefore deadlines should be in their hands. 

The client needs to understand that it is in their best interests to meet these deadlines so that the required marketing activities can follow a long-term timeline. 

Establishing a timeline over the long, medium, and short term, at the outset, can help everyone visualize the project in terms of needs and goals. Of course, this will probably change over time, but staying on course will benefit everyone. 

Setting expectations that involve letting them take the lead may seem counterintuitive at first, but it could be crucial to the success of your marketing campaign.

4. Make Decisions Quickly 

When a client takes their time making decisions about project changes or revisions or simply puts off final approval, this can end up costing you more money in the long run. Bear in mind that these agencies are busy and juggling multiple priorities most of the time. 

Keep the momentum going by answering questions and making decisions quickly. This can lead to some errors here and there, but everything is trial and error, after all. You must be ready to make adjustments and changes and make fast decisions.

5. Stay Honest… No Matter What 

Manners and transparency will get you far. It might seem obvious, but I’ve seen many clients miss the mark here. A great agency will be working full throttle to make sure that you are pleased with their work, so make sure you pay them respect at all times and stay accountable. 

Part of setting expectations is providing them with enough information about your company so that they can do their job. It may be that you’re tempted to hold certain information in confidence, but they need to get to know your brand to do their best work. 

Suggestions include: 

  • Investing more heavily in onboarding activities at the front of the project 
  • Investing in extra training opportunities for both your team and theirs 
  • Make sure the agency sees all aspects of your business 
  • Staying completely open to questions and suggestions  
  • Resisting the urge to withhold information (most agencies have confidentiality clauses in their contracts) 

The most important thing is to be honest about where you feel you’ve failed or fallen short with your marketing activities—after all, they are there to help you improve and succeed, but they can’t do this without a clear picture of where you need improvement!  

Setting Expectations and Exceeding Them! 

When you set yourself up to exceed expectations with regards to ad agency relationships, you will be on the right path to receive their best work too. After all, all relationships are two-sided. 

Stay on top of your promises for them, and they should do the same for you. 

Want help finding a new or replacement marketing agency? I can help.

I offer marketing agency search and performance management services to organizations looking to partner with great marketing agencies.

Contact me to learn more about how I can help you succeed in your agency-client relationship. 

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