HomeThe InfluencersThe ConsultantsIn-house and agency: Getting the most out of working together

In-house and agency: Getting the most out of working together

In-house teams often need extra resource through the support of an agency or consultant. Providing a clear understanding of the requirement and your brand will help ensure the relationship gets off to a good start and leads to the ultimate success of the project, writes Christine Baltas.

Here are some tips on making it work.

Good Brief
The success of any agency engagement starts with a good project brief. Setting and receiving a clear brief is essential. It sets the ground rules and direction for the entire project team to steer towards a common goal, mitigate creep and align stakeholder expectations.

Produce the brief as part of your pack not forgetting to include brand guidelines and any relevant information and access to materials about your organisation.

A good brief should achieve the following.

Get the basics right. Make sure the project is completely thought through. This may seem obvious, but it’s often the case that basic elements aren’t in place which can lead to trickier conversations and a poorly structured project.

Clearly articulate. What problem needs to be solved? Where is the opportunity for growth? How much does this cost and how will the overall project be measured? What defines success?

Define the ‘why’. Let’s call this the purpose and promise. This is where your external team or project consultant might help. Brief development and scoping can be part of the project collaboration and ensure there is a shared focus and understanding of the problem being solved and how the activity aligns with strategy.

Define the ‘how’. Here is an opportunity to sense check as you define your project deliverables. Consider the allocation of budget, timescales, what type of programme and pace is needed to deliver and outline who is accountable. Deploy a dedicated project consultant or project manager to keep everyone on track.

Agreement and pricing
It is down to the in-house team to provide as much information about the brand as possible. Conversely, an agency needs to show they understand what is needed. There should be no interpretation of an existing brand identity, re-working of marketing or firm strategy unless it has been asked for.

Next, define the required format of how information is received and when it arrives. Produce a clear outline and contingency for anything that is unforeseen – expected delays, scope creep and changes in decision can impact project parameters. If any part of the project is misunderstood, misaligned and miscommunicated the overall result is liable to come undone or fail.

Your agreement should comprise your contract, articulating project milestones and the associated payment terms.

Bear in mind it will be incumbent on the in-house team to manage this aspect. Agree a structured format to communicate. Ensure everyone is clear on the guardrails and involve your agency in the conversation. Provide clarity on the approval process and stakeholder landscape. Define the internal buyers, critical influencers and approvers, what matters to whom and why.

Saving the best for last, make space to use the opportunity to build a great creative working relationship.  Consider what might help, often there are layers across an organisation that an agency may not have sight of. Invite your agents to the office regularly or to a firm event. This helps provide insight into the culture and ‘language’ of the firm.

As you develop your relationship the journey should be one of mutual ideas and exchange and hopefully fun along the way.

Christine Baltas is a marketing consultant with over 25 years’ experience across legal, real estate and management consultancy. She shares her deep client-side insight on how to get the best out of agency/in-house relationships. www.skethia.com

Matt Baldwin
Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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