Marketing agencies and in-house marketing teams don’t have to be like oil and water. In fact, a good partnership between agency and in-house team members can be more of a peanut butter and jelly relationship.
Food idioms aside, it’s becoming more and more common for startups and large corporations alike to partner with marketing agencies, even if they already have an in-house marketing department. That’s because agencies can bring in additional resources and skill sets that might not exist in-house—and handle some of the time- and labor-intensive marketing activities that may be eating up too many company hours.
If you’re considering bringing in an agency as an extension of your own team, there are steps you can take to ensure that your marketing campaigns run like butter (that’s the last food cliché, I promise). When meeting with your new agency partner, you’ll need to determine how and when you’ll communicate, what tools you’ll use to collaborate, and how your team members will exchange knowledge.
You don’t want to feel like you’re shouting into a void whenever you reach out to your marketing agency, and your agency team members don’t want to feel that way, either. To avoid unnecessary frustration, it’s important to establish a communication plan early on.
It’s a good idea to set up a recurring monthly meeting to touch base, discuss strategy, and review the past month’s efforts. If you and your agency are working on a particularly big campaign, you may even want to meet weekly or bi-monthly.
Face-to-face meetings can be beneficial, but they’re not essential (especially if your agency is located halfway across the country). At Leverage, we use Sococo (a virtual office space) and GoToMeeting (a video conferencing tool) to meet with many of our clients. Both these tools allow us to have multiple people on a call share screens so that we can all look at the same presentations.
In addition to scheduling regular meetings, you should also establish a plan for communicating whenever something pressing comes up. Make sure you know who your point people are at your marketing agency and in-house so that you always have a clear channel of communication. Both in-house and agency team members should make it a goal to respond to emails within at least one business day.
Choosing Tools for Collaboration
Online collaboration tools make it easy for agencies and in-house marketing departments to collaborate and share documents, and the good news is, most marketing agencies already invest in some collaboration and project management tools.
At Leverage, for example, we use the project management system Teamwork to collaborate internally, but we can also give our clients access so that they can view specific files, notes, and task lists for their business. (Basecamp is another popular tool that some agencies and in-house marketing departments use.)
When it comes to file sharing, there are fortunately several free options available. Basic Dropbox is free, and if you need more advanced sharing features and additional storage, you can get Dropbox Pro or Business for a small monthly fee. Google Drive also provides another simple and free way for agencies and in-house departments to share text documents, graphics, spreadsheets, videos, and presentations.
If you’re looking for even more collaboration tools to meet the needs of a specific campaign or your company’s project management style, Hubspot has a list of 18 good ones.
Exchanging Knowledge (and Resources)
Complementary knowledge is one of the ultimate benefits of an agency teaming up with an in-house marketing department. An agency may have access to enterprise software, such as Marin (a cross-channel advertising platform), that they can use to help your business make better-informed marketing decisions. Your agency team members may also bring with them a more advanced knowledge of Google Analytics and other tools that your company is already using, allowing your company to use those tools more effectively.
Meanwhile, your in-house marketing team brings to the table a deeper understanding of your company, your competitors, your target audience, and your industry. In order to make sure your marketing agency succeeds in their responsibilities, your in-house team needs to be able to successfully share their knowledge, whether that’s through reports, presentations, interviews, or even making products available for agency team members to test.
Here are a few other things your internal team should be sharing with your marketing agency:
- Existing content style guides or notes on your brand voice
- Your marketing initiatives calendar
- Media files (e.g. company photos, videos, slideshow, or webinars that you want to promote)
- Updates on your product launches, technology advances, upcoming webinars or talks you’re presenting, and other company news
- Sales and lead data (so your agency knows how their campaigns are doing)
Agency and In-House: Together at Last
There’s no reason that marketing agencies and in-house marketing teams need to be at odds, especially with the wide range of communication and collaboration tools available. Both in-house and agency team members can provide different strengths, allowing your company to expand your digital marketing efforts in a cost-effective manner.
Want to learn more about how Leverage Marketing collaborates with in-house marketing teams? Contact us, and we’ll schedule a call at a time that works for you.