As a marketing professional, there will likely come a time when your organization decides to partner with a marketing agency. Whether for a one-off project or a long-term partnership, the success of this relationship hinges greatly on the onboarding process.
Just as with employee onboarding, effectively bringing a new agency into the fold requires careful planning. It also includes some of the open communication, and a clear understanding of each party’s roles and expectations.
This article offers a step-by-step guide to navigate the marketing agency onboarding process effectively, ensuring the best possible outcomes for your organization.
1. Understand the importance of agency onboarding
Much like employee onboarding, agency onboarding sets the foundation for a successful partnership.
It’s the process where you equip the agency with the necessary tools, knowledge, and understanding of your brand to effectively carry out their work. And this process should foster a sense of shared understanding and trust, and establish clear expectations.
Failure to properly onboard a marketing agency can lead to misunderstandings, misaligned strategies, wasted resources, and ultimately, ineffective marketing efforts.
And on the other hand, a successful onboarding process can set the stage for a fruitful, long-term partnership that drives your organization’s marketing efforts forward.
2. Make sure to set clear expectations
Another tip from us is to begin the onboarding process by setting clear expectations. The agency needs to understand the scope of the project, your marketing goals, the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to measure success, the timeline, and the budget. These are all very important considerations to keep in mind.
A detailed brief can serve as a valuable tool for setting these expectations. It should outline the project’s objectives, your brand’s target audience, any relevant past marketing efforts, and the desired deliverables.
So make sure to encourage the agency to ask questions and provide their insights. At the end of the day their perspective can offer valuable contributions to the project’s strategy.
3. Share valuable brand information
The next step in the onboarding process is sharing your brand information. This includes your brand guidelines, which detail your brand’s voice, visual identity, core values, and unique selling proposition. So understanding these elements is vital for the agency to create marketing campaigns that are consistent with your brand.
Then provide the agency with information about your products or services, industry, competitors, and target audience.
The more knowledge the agency has about your business and industry, the better equipped they will be to craft effective marketing strategies.
4. Establish good communication channels
A successful agency-client relationship requires open, regular communication. Early in the onboarding process, establish how and when communication will occur.
Will there be weekly check-in meetings? Who are the primary points of contact on both sides? How should the agency submit their work, and how will feedback be provided?
See our article Internal Communication Strategy for Onboarding for more info.
Establishing these communication norms early on can prevent confusion, promote transparency, and ensure that both parties are on the same page throughout the project.
5. Navigate the legal landscape
As with any professional partnership, it’s crucial to clarify the legal aspects of your relationship with the agency during the onboarding process.
This includes things like contracts, nondisclosure agreements (NDAs), data privacy considerations, and intellectual property rights.
So make sure to always consult with a legal professional to ensure all agreements are clear and fair to both parties.
6. The onboarding meeting
Once expectations are set, brand information is shared, communication channels are established, and legalities are sorted, it’s time to hold an onboarding meeting. Much like the first day of a new employee, this is the agency’s first real step into your organization.
In this meeting, introduce the agency team to key members of your organization. Make sure to walk them through important processes or systems they’ll be using, and provide a platform for any final questions or clarifications.
This meeting can be an excellent opportunity to foster a sense of partnership and kick-start the project on a positive note.
7. Agency onboarding VS employee onboarding
Just as with employee onboarding, the goal of agency onboarding is to equip a new partner with the knowledge and tools they need to be successful.
Both processes require clear communication, setting expectations, and creating a strong relationship.
The parallels don’t stop there. As an HR professional, you can leverage your skills in employee onboarding to optimize agency onboarding.
Similarly, insights gained from the agency onboarding process, such as effective ways to communicate expectations or the importance of cultural fit, can be applied to enhance your organization’s employee onboarding practices.
Effectively onboarding a marketing agency can set the foundation for a successful partnership.
By setting clear expectations, sharing essential brand information, establishing communication channels, addressing legal aspects, and holding an inclusive onboarding meeting, you can ensure that your agency is well-equipped to drive your marketing efforts forward.
Check out our other related articles such as:
Remember, as with employee onboarding, the goal is to foster a productive, lasting relationship that contributes to your organization’s overall success.