What’s it like working with a creative agency? We could tell you ourselves, but we’re a little biased. Instead, we’ve invited Kate Walton (General Manager, Communications at YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford) to share her experiences with us from a client’s perspective.
How do you prepare for a first-time meeting with a creative agency? Ex. Do you look at their past work, testimonials, or something else?
Any first-time meeting with a creative agency is usually preceded by seeing something else they’ve produced that catches our attention due to its creativity and innovation. Sometimes it’s due to a referral from a colleague or partner. A good website portfolio is incredibly important as it’s the first place we often look for other work samples to see the agency’s versatility, the scope of work and client roster.
What do you look for when deciding which agencies to collaborate with?
We look for an agency whose values align with our own organizational values. As a charitable community organization we also try to use, whenever possible, agencies within the region we serve and who actively support the community. Of course, all of that is for nought if their work doesn’t show a track record of success and innovation. The agencies we work with are often niche, focused on one or two specialities, but there also needs to be an understanding of how their niche fits into the marketer’s portfolio as a whole.
How is working with a creative agency different from working with other types of vendors?
I think anytime you can develop a rapport with a vendor, it increases the value and impact of the final product so I don’t want to undervalue relationships with other vendors. I do, however, believe that it’s important to think of the creative agency as a member of your Marketing & Communications Team. They need to understand the challenges, relationships and goals of our organization in order to help us deliver the best results.
What do you hope to get out of a client-agency relationship?
First and foremost they have to be reliable and able to deliver within some tight timelines. I also believe that honest feedback is important – sometimes a creative idea can miss the mark and as a client, we must be able to give honest feedback and the agency to understand criticism is not personal. We also look for an agency to push our thinking, inspire us and educate us along the way. We’re all busy so if there are ways to enhance the work we do that may not be on our radar, we want to hear about it. It may not be in the current scope of work or budget but it can always help shape our plans for the future
How important is the chemistry between you and a creative director?
If you don’t have chemistry, you don’t have a win. There needs to be mutual respect between client and creative director in order to reach the best possible outcome on a project. As the client, we understand our organization and our brand better than anyone but the creative director’s role is to push that comfort level a bit, help us see things differently and show us where opportunities exist.