By their eager nature, marketers will be looking at a pristine 2018 to make their mark and drive growth. This is true for agency and client counterparts. Both are looking to push early changes and meet their ambitious targets next year.      

If there’s one thing we can tell you about next year, it’s that we will all need each other. New channels and “everyone always-on” marketing means competition will be fizzing. The marketing environment has become more complex and contentious than ever before, so mutuality and trust among partners will be a huge feature of success.   

With that in mind, here are some ideas on how to develop deeper, more productive relationships with marketing agencies next year.  

Be open to sharing and agreeing plans

We believe in a scout mindset. That means going out in-front to figure out what’s going to happen, then planning everything until that point. Whether you provide a six month or annual marketing plan, or you ask your agency to create one, this should be agreed in a Service Level Agreement (SLA) for next year.

HubSpot has found that marketing professionals whose organisations have a strong SLA in place are 3 times more likely to say their strategy is effective, compared to those in misaligned organisations. Agreeing long-term plans will help to focus your combined efforts from day dot. 

Make no apologies for challenging ideas

Underneath the thick frames and hardy winter beards, there is often a talented but gooey creative that doesn’t always know best. As the client, you built a strategy around your products and services. You set your standards. That means you are the best person to balance control and creativity.

Doing this can be great fun if you schedule regular sessions for your agency to share ideas in an open environment with live feedback. It will help them to get your perspective.

Be a client leader and drive performance

Be open about your personal goals and management style, treating both your extended and immediate teams in the same way. Also ensure that you’re transparent about sales.

Right now, our greatest client leaders use business sales reporting to assert themselves and build on marketing performance each month. When sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates. Seeing this real business success helps to motivate our teams.

Share contacts, network and train each other

If growth is on your agenda for next year, improving the size and warmth of your network will be on a list and highlighted in multiple colours. Since working with several partners and clients, we have been invited to business coaching and industry events. We have also asked clients if they’d like to join us on training days to ensure we’re all keeping pace.

Ultimately, our professional world is wide open and richer as a result.

Reduce financial friction

If you were to ask anyone about what causes the most friction in the client-agency relationship, most would say finance. We consider that problem to be administrative. If a client doesn’t know an agency’s rates they will contest a quote. If they don’t have a clear payment schedule they will question invoices. Likewise, if priorities and budgets are constantly changing, agencies will spend a lot of time questioning cost and time - rather than getting into a rhythm of work.

The solution for both sides is to be transparent about rates, agree clear administrative processes and – for the greatest yield - build consistency into your monthly budgets.   

Without wishing away the coming weeks, we hope this helps you to plan for next year. Better agency relationships will only help to drive better business.