Congratulations – you’ve hired a new marketing agency. You’ve taken a lot of care to ensure you’ve made the best selection, checked references and feel that they just “get you.”

While this a great feeling – it’s still just the beginning of the relationship. You’ve committed to each other, but you still need to dig deep and get to know each other on a few different levels. In a business to business relationship, this requires one critical, often overlooked aspect; Onboarding.

The process of onboarding builds a strong foundation for your client/agency relationship and ensures you are on the same page and that efforts are aligned. Failure to take the time to properly onboard can lead to an increased need for your resources and a decrease in end results.

In addition to building a productive relationship, onboarding provides your agency with a better understanding of the ins and outs of your business, industry, and customers. Naturally, this results in the building of more focused buyer personas to pinpoint high-value customers who ultimately bring in more revenue.

This checklist will break down the key aspects of agency onboarding and provide you with questions and takeaways so that you can ensure your relationship makes it for the long-haul.

Getting to Know Your Team on a Deeper Level

One of the most important lessons my father taught me is to take the time get to know your teammates. Not only does it make work more enjoyable, but it’s also proven to lead to better production. This advice has carried me through each and every role I’ve ever held and has made for some exciting opportunities and relationships.

While it’s common to know your agencies’ principal – it’s easy to forget that there’s likely a large team working behind the scenes to make things happen. People with goals, aspirations, hobbies and a healthy work/life balance.

Building a strong rapport can also decrease communication mishaps. By creating an open and frank relationship between yourself and the people managing your inbound marketing campaigns you can ensure you’re in sync every step of the way.

Understanding and knowing the team elevates the entire relationship, instead of feeling like two entities it beings to feel like it should – a team working in unison to meet your goals.

teamwork

At the end of the day if you don’t succeed your marketing agency doesn’t either.

Use the questions below as a guide on how to get to know your new teammates:

  • Who are you working with?
  • What makes them tick?
  • Why are they passionate about marketing?
  • What are their hobbies?

So, now you know who everyone is you’ve likely discussed common interests and are ready to get to the nitty gritty.

Who Does What? Roles & Responsibilities

Unless you’ve worked together in the past, this is an essential component in the onboarding process that can prevent a lot of headaches in the future. Determining which aspects are handled by who ensures timely, accurate completion of projects through the lifespan of your campaign.

If your firm is composed of many skilled individuals, there may be certain people that you will be communicating with on specific aspects of your inbound marketing campaign. For example, your agency may have a dedicated paid search expert, content strategist or designer.

Experienced firms will avoid confusion by assigning you a primary point of contact that will act as a client/agency liaison.  This person is responsible for organizing the strategy of your campaign, any required meetings, and offloads the responsibility of keeping track of who does what from yourself so you can get back to focusing on your business.

Try to have a dialogue early on in the relationship to cover the following:

What are the expectations of you as a client?

While ultimately the agency works for you, there are still some things they will need from you to do the absolute best job. Expectations could take the form of transparency, insight into past campaigns, or inside access. I’ll talk about these in more depth shortly.

What do you expect from your marketing agency?

In this case, you may want to think of a few values or attributes that are an important part of your corporate culture that would be essential for your agency to have as well. Examples could be experienced, committed, dependable.

Communication Is the Foundation of Every Great Relationship

Strong, consistent communications are crucial to the development of a successful marketing campaign – but how do you ensure you are building on a strong foundation? I recommend setting a detailed schedule of biweekly or monthly calls to provide timely delivery and updates over the course of your campaign.

Setting a regular communications schedule allows you to keep up to date with your marketing team’s efforts as well as contribute to the overall strategy of your campaign. Offering insights into what you and your sales team recognize is working, and offer suggestions on areas that you feel need for improvement.

Ask yourself these questions, if you can’t say yes to all of them, it’s time to have a talk with your agency lead:

  • Has a communications cadence been scheduled?
  • Does your communications style match with that of your agency?
    • If not – don’t be shy to share whether you prefer phone calls over emails.
  • Does your agency offer weekly updates?
  • Are they available for quick one-off questions throughout the day or do you have to schedule appointments?

Commit to Timelines and Set Expectations

Now that you know who everyone is, what they do, and the best means for connecting with your agency and vice versa, it’s time to focus on what you can expect in the early stages of your marketing campaign.

Being aware of project timelines in advance of your campaign can help reduce stress and miscommunication. Your marketing agency should outline monthly activities with you throughout the course of a campaign.

You’ve likely already discussed what you wish to achieve regarding goals and outcomes, but come prepared with notes about what you expect of your agency, including:

  • What resources does your marketing firm have available?
  • Are they available during the flight of your campaign?
  • How often do you need updates?
  • What do you require regarding reporting?
  • How would you define success for this campaign?

Preparation Is Half the Battle

Perhaps you’ve worked with a previous firm, or have dabbled in inbound marketing yourself. If so, then you know the more information and data available, the better.

Come to the relationship armed with any industry knowledge and research that you have tucked away and maybe forgotten. Any and all data will be appreciated by your new agency and can help expedite results in your campaign.

Include key players of your team in what your agency is working on. You may be asking yourself “Why do I have to bring anyone else into the fold if I am responsible for marketing?” The simple answer is that collaboration is always a better solution. You want to refrain from having too narrow of a perspective and inviting others to provide feedback ensures you have a variety of opinions.

Bring in a lead sales member of your team to speak to what they are experiencing from customers, what challenges do they face? The insights gained from such a conversation can decrease the workload on your sales force which in turn can increase their success rate.

Unlimited Access

Unless you want to do all the work yourself, your marketing agency will need access to many pieces of your business. The fact of the matter is your marketing agency likely has a set of standard access requests they will send you but may miss out on some opportunities you have on the go already.

Some common access requests that you will want to provide as early on as possible will include:

  • Google Plus
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Analytics
  • Website/CMS
  • FTP/cPanel
  • Hosting and much more

If you’ve linked your social media into one tool such as Hootsuite, come with this gift and your marketing agency, I assure you, will be impressed.

Knowledge Is Power – Show Your Insights and Personality

No one knows your company better than you do – but – your agency wants to. Sharing the inside track on what goes on at your company can exponentially elevate the marketing efforts of your agency.

Consider sharing the following details:

  • Fun events
  • Anniversaries
  • Exciting opportunities
  • Active marketing activities
  • Conferences, conventions or workshops your team is attending

Regardless of how small or unrelated, you believe these details to be your marketing agency can find ways to compliment these.

show-your-personality

A Sense of Humor Is Everything

Regardless of previous relationships, you’ve had with marketing agencies; you’ve hired this new one for a reason. If your experience has been negative, start fresh. Come into the process with optimism and a sense of humor making the relationship flow a lot smoother which will increase productivity and results for your organization.

There you have it, the keys to a successful onboarding process. First impressions are everything in this world, and a marketing relationship is no different.

Kick off your campaign with these helpful tips, and you are sure to have smooth sailing!