Tips for Moving from In-House Marketing to Agency

If you’re moving from an in-house marketing setup to an agency partnership, some crucial things to bear in mind will help all parties feel more comfortable with the change.

I always say that the best clients inspire great work from their agencies. To that end, finding a great marketing partner is just the first step in the process—if you’ve already found your match, congratulations! (If you still need help finding a great agency, I can help with this!)

Read on for some tips on building a partnership with your new agency.

Make Sure it’s the Right Move

Moving your marketing from in-house to an agency partnership can offer many benefits but may not work for everyone. Smooth, consistent communication and idea-sharing are essential. Sometimes, companies benefit from having at least a couple of permanent staff members who understand the company inside and out and can work from there.

But it’s entirely possible to create a long-term contract with an agency which will work as effectively as in-house staff, where you can enjoy that consistency but still save on time. If you’re still on the fence about what’s best for your company, here’s a discussion of some pros and cons that could help point you in the right direction.

Keep Your Promises

The best clients always meet their commitments and deliverables to the agency. Your company should be prepared to lead organizational processes and systems instead of leaving it all to the agency.

As you move forward with your new agency, you must enter into a contract that offers both parties every opportunity to stay on track. Details about how you will stay on track and general expectations can be discussed as part of contract negotiations.

A focussed agency briefing document, rich with learning and insight, becomes the project contract between you and the agency provides an excellent start for your relationship.

Give the Agency Space

While you may be able to work with an agency full-time, they will likely only have the capacity to work with you part-time. So before you start your search, get a realistic idea of how many hours per week you will require from the agency. That way, you can find an agency with more bandwidth if that is a priority. This all depends on their client load, however.

Set Up Clear Systems and Expectations

Building a great relationship is key to getting the most value from a marketing agency. Like any other type of working relationship, allowing the agency to get familiar with a set of clear guidelines, including expectations and work systems, can help reduce the chance of mistakes and miscommunications.

This includes discussing roles, goals, timelines, budgets and priorities.

You can even discuss how you will manage conflict from the start, checking questions like:

  • How to handle feedback processes
  • What to do with “negative” feedback
  • Who makes the final decisions
  • Critical times and dates for priority meetings
  • Preferred communication channels
  • Approval processes

The key to success is making sure that every party involved—that is, all of your staff and the agency—are super clear about your organizational and operational needs.

Stay Present

I recommend that clients sign a three-year contract to get the best continuity of staff and resources from the agency and create annual statements of work connected to fee negotiations to allow for future changes in requirements.

However, it’s essential to pay attention to your current needs and what’s going on around you. Being so focused on future goals (for instance, profits) could mean that you lose sight of how things are going in the moment.

Stay focused in the present for your current needs, but be flexible in the future, as your marketing needs may change.

Get Support

If you’re making a move away from in-house marketing and towards an agency partnership, uncertainty will be part of the process. Getting the proper support to help you make the move can help smooth the transition.

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

If you want to learn more about how I can help, please reach out!

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