Agencies and clients go together like peanut butter and jelly - you have a vision, and we have the skills to make that vision a reality. But for many small businesses, it might their first time dealing with an agency, and how that relationship works is uncharted territory. From deadlines to budgets to check-ins to feedback, it can all feel overwhelming and sometimes this can lead to a bit of strain in the relationship. Fear not - we’re here to help!
Over the years, we’ve helped many clients navigate the waters of building a successful relationship and helping their creative vision come to life. Let’s check out the top four things you can do to make sure your agency-client relationship is smooth sailing all the way.
1. Communication is key
Any good business is built on great communication. Just think about how you run your business day-to-day; it’s all about how well you can communicate with the different members of your team and their different departments. The same goes for working with an agency!
Hearing from you and your team regularly is what keeps the project moving so don’t be afraid to give as much feedback as possible. After all this is where the sticking point often comes in - you know what you want. You’ve got the vision, you can see it clearly in your brain…but we can’t!
The more your agency knows about how you’re feeling about certain designs or concepts, the more they’ll be able to do to make your website match what you see in your head. The agency you work with may have guidelines around how to provide helpful feedback in a way that keeps your project moving along smoothly, so don’t be afraid to ask if they have a preferred format for receiving feedback.
Protip: At The Taproom, we use Basecamp to keep track of our projects and keep our clients in the loop. If your chosen agency uses something similar, be sure to use it to your advantage so you can see what’s happening in your project and interject when you want to offer feedback.
2. Be honest, but constructive
Remember getting those socks at Christmas that you really didn’t like but you smiled and pretended you loved them so you didn’t hurt the giver’s feelings? Don’t be like that with your agency! If you don’t like something in a design, don’t sit in silent hatred of it - tell us that you hate it. If you read something in a strategy that just doesn’t line up with your brand’s mission, tell us that. However, make sure you don’t just say you don’t like something, give a reason why and offer some examples you do like from other brands. The more "why" you can provide, the easier it is to redirect towards your true vision. At the end of the day, we want to make you happy and feel proud when you see the end results of the project.
3. Sometimes deadlines change
Deadlines are always incredibly useful in an agency-client relationship. If you have an important deadline you’d like to meet, we’ll aim to hit that deadline. But sometimes things can happen that push the deadline back a bit. It might be waiting on feedback, it might be vacation time, or maybe an integration is proving a bit trickier than first thought. Whatever it might be, the best thing both parties can do in a given situation is to be patient and discuss what a realistic timeline might look like given the setbacks. Work with your agency, communicate openly, and you’ll get your project back on the track to success.
4. Trust your experts, but always ask questions
Like we said at the very beginning, the reason you want to work with an agency is because they have the skills to bring your vision to life. You wouldn’t hire people you didn’t trust to do a good job, so make sure you do trust them and let them do their thing. That being said, you shouldn’t just take everything at face value - if you’re unsure why a designer has taken a specific action, ask them why. If you don’t quite agree with something your social media expert has written, open the floor for a constructive discussion. Oftentimes, they’ll have an explanation — and if you’re not satisfied with it, you can open a dialogue with them to reach an agreement on the best route forward with the project.
We love our clients at The Taproom, and a big part of the reason why is that we’ve developed positive, productive relationships that benefit everyone involved and result in awesome websites. Everything above is what we’ve learned from our clients over the years, and if you can follow in their footsteps, you’ll get the most out of your agency-client relationship and drive your projects to success.