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5 Tips for Agency Partnership Success

Agency Partners: Tips for selecting and collaborating with a creative agency.


Are you ready?

In a recent article by Elliot Cowan and the Here's My Chance Team in Nonprofit Pro Magazine, the following tips were provided for nonprofits to use in working with a Creative Agency.

Cowan points out that before you can benefit from an agency partnership, your organization needs to know if it's ready? Is it the right time? Generally the reasons to start an agency search are the same.

First, your organization may find itself lacking the specific skill sets your organization needs for a project like a website setup or rebuild. In today's digital world, one misstep could be costly.

Second, your organization might be launching a new product or service targeting a market your organization is unfamiliar with. It can be beneficial working with an agency knowledgeable with that market.

As Cowan points out in his article, the overall important question to ask is "Will an outside voice and creative thinking help make this successful?" If you answer "yes," then you need to start looking for an agency partner.

But what makes a great agency partner and how do you pick the right one? It is simple, you choose the one that is most compatible. It's a little like matchmaking and we have all experienced that one bad date, or in some cases many. When it comes to choosing an agency, you want to pick one that you're comfortable with and one that is comfortable with you.


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What do you need?

It's your organization's project, it's part of its mission. You are going to want an agency that is open and receptive to your needs, that can produce results that are right for you. You need an agency that isn't going to force you to accept work that isn't right for your organization. The agency you choose needs to be one your comfortable telling, this isn't right.

Besides compatibility, you want the agency you choose to be experts. You wouldn't have just any doctor have access to your heart and operate on it. No, you want a Certified Specialist, a Cardiologist with a proven track record. Not an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist. However, you also don't want an expert that is going to offer their opinions condescendingly and recommend services you don't need.

One of Cowan's best pieces of advice in his article is that you should remember, "no project proposal is ever final." any agency you choose should follow this rule and develop a fluid proposal that adapts to your preliminary feedback to produce exactly what you need to meet your organization's goals. The proposal process is your insight into how an agency uses its expertise, how it acknowledges your needs, and how adaptive it is. Use it to test the waters.

So what are the 5 tips for agency partnership success?

1. "Start with Why"

Why do you need an agency? Why questions help you uncover the true reasons and motivations for any action. You need to know why. 

2. "Be Open to Change"

With any relationship, there is give and take. It's important to be open and receptive of not only your ideas, the ideas of your team, but those of the agency and its team. Through collaboration, you will discover new things you may not have thought of.  

3. "Always Tell the Truth"

TV's Doctor House believes everyone lies, and what happens? The patient does and almost dies. If your agency partnership is to be successful, you're going to have to be blunt and honest. If the work sucks and you don't like it, if the timeline or budget needs adjusting, don't be afraid to be brutal. If you chose the right agency, such honesty should be welcomed.

4. "Follow the Leader"

This sounds basic, but it bears reinforcing. There needs to be a project leader. You hired the agency for a reason, and even though your own internal leadership has control of the relationship, you still hired the agency because your organization needed the knowledge and expertise that you lacked. Trust the agency.

5. "Keep it going"

When you make a friend, a real good one, you're not friends for a day. You don't wake up tomorrow, next week, or a year later and say, "I love our relationship and the time we had, I no longer want to see you."No. You want to continue to experience those good times. Your agency partnership may only last for one project really successful one, and a bond was formed, what is to say there won't be future projects or the development of ongoing projects. To quote Cowan, "there's always an opportunity for further creative collaboration." Therefore, always keep in touch.

 Are you ready to start looking for a creative agency partner? Sociallyin would love the opportunity to be that agency. Set up a free marketing assessment today.

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Jonathan Reeves

I am an experienced nonprofit professional, skilled in Fundraising, Marketing, and Development. When it comes to advancing your organizations mission and outreach, I go the distance, using every networking tool available to reach the target demographic. When not working for a nonprofit or other business, I use my skills to advance historic and genealogical research for individuals, organizations, and anyone looking to know more about the past.

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