building successful client/agency relationships
You have already endured the grueling task of the agency search and possibly RFP process, so congratulations! Hopefully at this point you are feeling confident that you have not just picked a suitable "vendor" but a partner that can help your business grow as your company evolves. Now the task is getting your project(s) off the ground and in the right direction. To collaborate effectively, here are a few things that you should consider before putting pen to paper on the project brief.
1) Help them help you
Be prepared to answer questions... a lot of questions. A good partner will seek to understand your brand values, mission, customer base, competition, and industry. No matter the scope of the (initial) project, a brand exploration helps tremendously with gaining these critical insights that will shape future creative direction and get everyone on the same page.
2) Share your vision
Quality vision casting is the optimal way of ensuring the creative works of the agency will impact your business in the way that you desire. The more specific you are, the better the outcome. For design focused projects, think in terms of what you want the creative to achieve. Whether it is increased user engagement on a product information webpage; higher click-to-purchase rate on an email CTA button; or to communicate presentation points more efficiently without the user of text - these are examples of actionable goals that will help guide a more strategic creative approach.
3) Create a two-way street
It's important to note that while technology can bring us together, it can also cause a divide. Email and phone calls, while necessary to keep projects moving forward, should not completely replace occasional in-person meetings. Connecting face-to-face outside of a work setting will really help to solidify your relationship. And just like any other relationship, the one you have with your agency requires some effort to maintain.
4) Trust their expertise
The creative feedback process can be rife with frustration on both ends. To avoid critiques muddled with personal preferences keep it objective. Ensure that your feedback is aligned with the goals originally outlined. Creative firms know that you are paying for their expertise and will strive to provide top value as it relates to achieving the goals set forth.