Partnering with a marketing agency is a lot like dating. At first, there’s a little bit of apprehension, but by taking the time to get to know each other and realizing that you’re on the same wavelength, you start to build the foundations that enable you to commit to a rewarding long-term partnership.

But what is the foundation that really makes a partnership thrive?

Like any good relationship, accountability, trust, honesty and communication are key. It’s about getting to really know the person, or in this case, people, that you’re partnering with. It’s also important to remember that it’s a partnership. That means that any relationship has to be a two-way street.

So if you’re thinking about partnering with a marketing agency, here’s some expert advice to help you build the perfect partnership.

Accountability

When the partnership first forms, what do you base your trust on besides the good faith?

An agency’s reputation is important, as is your first impression of the people that you’ll potentially be dealing with. But accountability is key to laying the foundations of a great partnership with a marketing agency.

Results will obviously be a long-term focus. However, to build trust in the middle and short term, you want to find an agency that actually does what they say they were going to. This establishes trust in the people you’re working with, but also the process that’s been put in place.

Once the marketing agency and your organization hold up your own ends of the bargain, that’s when projects can progress successfully.

Trust, honesty and healthy conflict

Once you have that accountability, that’s when you can start to build trust. With this trust, you can begin to comfortably have honest, healthy discussions with your agency of choice – and this is where the magic happens.

Once you’ve reached this trust and understanding, both parties are able to collaborate closely. You can challenge each other to do bigger and better things. It’s this aspect of the partnership that helps push the boundaries of what’s possible.

These friendly challenges aren’t about one person saying flat out “No, I don’t want to do that”. It’s about them continuing to say “Here’s what else we can do”. It’s about adding value so that together you can accomplish something great. For example, it’s about having a great new recipe experience on mobile but also asking what else could be done. Such as, what if an Alexa skill for recipes was built?

Being able to have these candid conversations helps both the marketing agency and your organization tackle issues head-on. It also helps them leave their biases of what they want behind and focus on what’s most important: what’s the best experience they can give the end user.

Getting to really know the people

We’re all specialists in what we do and getting to know everyone involved in a project is crucial to building relationships that are going to benefit your business in the long term. After all, you don’t build a partnership with the business itself, you build one with the people that work for it.

Major Tom partnership handshake

For example, it’s important for a Project Manager to get to know what the person in the partnering business is best at and to use that information strategically.

This information helps to strengthen the partnership and also helps them move the project forward more efficiently. Armed with this information they know who to turn to for creative insights into the brand, or for digital strategy questions. After all, a marketing project involves experts on both sides of the relationship. Therefore, it’s vital to really leverage everyone’s input for the benefit of the project.

Communication and transparency

Knowing the team on a personal level and being able to be honest opens up a whole new level of communication. This is where true collaboration can happen and where excellence begins.

Why?

Because you can cut straight to the point and get stuff done.

You both can have challenging – and inspiring – conversations that add value, help progress the project and bring efficiencies.

But along with supporting collaboration, communication has another important purpose. From our viewpoint as an agency, regular communication shows that we’re not afraid to be completely transparent. In fact, it’s when one side of the partnership goes radio silent that the other starts to wonder what’s going on with the project.

At the end of the day, no-one ever finished a project and complained that “We communicated too much” did they?

Without the above, relationships crumble and projects fail. But when both you and the marketing agency make a joint effort to have a healthy relationship, it’s a spectacular outcome which delights all those within the partnership, and most importantly, the end user.

If you’re currently in a partnership with an agency and you notice your relationship isn’t ticking all the boxes, now’s the time to address it. If you want to see what this relationship looks like in real life, watch the video at the top and see the dinner we had with our long-term partners, The Little Potato Company.