It’s day one of your company’s relationship with your new marketing agency. You’ve heard pitches, met with new business teams, and reviewed websites and testimonials from past clients. Ultimately, your company signed on the bottom line and hired a new agency partner. Whether that engagement is for one project or 100, it helps to go into the relationship knowing how to get the most out of it. With that in mind, and because we have a fair amount of experience on the matter, we’ve put together some tips on how to maximize efficiency and communication between your agency and your in-house marketing team so that you’re BOTH set up for success from the start.

Research shows that the industry-average length of a client-agency relationship is 3.2 years. But the average length of the 40 best client-agency relationships is a whopping 22 years. Why the massive range? A lot of it comes down to communication. The more transparent, clear, and upfront the communication is between agency and client, the more smoothly the project or relationship runs.

So, how exactly do you get the most out of your agency relationship? Here are Spire’s tips to maximize your agency ROI.

Top Line Clarity

Make sure your agency is given an opportunity to meet with leadership and understands organizational goals. If we understand the broader strategic goals, we can make recommendations that ensure we are spending according to budget in a way that helps the leadership team achieve those goals and makes the marketing team look good. The results are always better when we have access to leadership early in the process, making sure that as your agency team, we spend time and money on what matters.

Access to Decision-Makers

When presenting major components of a brand or project, we always request that all decision- makers are in the room. It’s more efficient to address feedback, questions, and concerns that way. It also helps align revisions and cut down on additional costly rounds of edits, which can cause project hours to creep up when they aren’t managed efficiently. In fact, nearly 40% of agencies exceed their budgets because of scope creep. Having key leadership present for big decisions also leads to much quicker responses for sign-off and approval, which leads us to our next point.

Timely Decision-Making

This is a big one. To keep projects and timelines on track, efficient decision-making is so important. When a project sits on hold, pending client feedback or revisions, it’s both time-consuming and expensive. You want your project to stay top-of-mind for your agency. If it remains on hold for a long time, your agency has to refamiliarize themselves with the project. They may have to move edits to a different designer because the previous one had to move on to a new project. It’s terribly inefficient to start back up on something after no longer being familiar with the specifics. According to one report, 55% of agencies say waiting on clients to respond is their #1 pain point**.**

Budget Access and Transparency

Sometimes a client is uneasy about sharing marketing budgets with their agency. Other times, the client might not even have a clear picture of what their budget is because of internal issues. But early access to marketing budgets is a big help and allows your agency partner to take advantage of full year-long planning as well as bulk purchasing (for media buys and/or printing.) Transparency into line-item marketing spend allows your agency partner to build a strategic budget that maximizes effectiveness for the spend and to provide guidance on projects and resource allocation.

Frank Feedback

Clear communication and speaking openly about challenges, barriers, or misalignments is important for your agency partner to help you address and/or overcome those challenges. Agencies benefit from client feedback about what is or isn’t working, both in terms of day-to-day communications, and also—and this is a big one—how successfully marketing pieces or initiatives are received by their customers. Routinely providing facts, figures, and hard numbers to your agency partner is hugely beneficial in dialing in your marketing strategy. A quarterly or semi-annual review allows both client and agency to provide each other with feedback, assess progress, and make tweaks where needed.

Celebrate the Wins

Take the time to acknowledge and celebrate results, awards, and launches. It’s easy to simply move on, especially when there is always something pressing to tackle next. But taking an opportunity to applaud the wins with your agency partner goes far in building momentum to take on the next challenge together.

The points above highlight how to manage and maximize the ROI from your agency engagement. With these points in mind, you’re on the road to a long and productive relationship with your agency partner.

Kimberly Tyner is partner and chief creative officer at Spire. To stay up to date on agency news, awards, and blog posts, subscribe to our Spire Wire newsletter.