We first started looking at the question ‘What makes a great agency?’ by looking at the benefits of doing one thing well. In the case of content agencies, that means focusing on content. But there are other things we believe in strongly.
The second theme here is that great agencies have a special relationship with clients. Call it openness or transparency – it boils down to trust.
Now this might not always feel obvious when you’re working with this type of agency. It usually is most noticeable when you compare an open and trusting relationship to one you’d get elsewhere.
Process. Where some agencies cloak the creative process in mysterious terms, an open agency is very clear about how it works. They should want you involved and be happy to show you work in progress – to ensure content is aligned to the message and avoid heading down a blind alley. Or to uncover some new idea. Some of us even spell out the process in a statement of work.
People. When some agencies aren’t upfront about the people who will be working on your account or project – and this is about more than the account lead – an open agency will name names. Think about it. It’s in any good agency’s interest to show you the calibre of people working for you. Ask if an agency doesn’t offer this info.
Pricing. Lastly – and this is by no means a comprehensive list – while some agencies are either secretive about how they price or blind you with blended rates for a dozen different levels of staffer, an open agency will approach pricing simply and honestly. Again, this is about being open – not about the level of pricing.
As we’ll explore in the next post in this series, much of the above isn’t possible at some types of agency, for lots of reasons to do with structure, size, culture and more.
But we’d contend it’s in any client’s interest to ask about process, people and pricing. Get the right answers and you’ll feel comfortable and feel the trust flowing in both directions.
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