We know the importance of first impressions when it comes to meeting someone new. And first impressions apply to working relationships too, especially in the client-agency world. Once a brand chooses a new agency, it’s critical to have a tight onboarding plan that instills confidence in both teams from the get-go and kicks things off on the strongest foot. It’s a great way to showcase an agency’s expertise and value for the client in the early stages of a project – the stage when everyone is most excited. Clients are able to ask questions and get answers before the project actually begins, and to understand the relationship of collaboration.
Onboarding falls more into housekeeping notes than actual marketing, but it’s vital nonetheless for a healthy partnership. Here is a quick checklist of those items we tackle while the ink is drying with our new client relationships:
- Establish business goals – If this wasn’t discussed in depth prior to forming the relationship, please make this a priority. On the surface, some might say business goals and marketing goals are different. But we couldn’t disagree more. To accomplish one, you need the other, therefore, break bread quickly over this topic.
- Team alignment – While both sides are eager to dive in the deep end of work around a new initiative, the alignment of teams must be addressed before any brief or strategy is written. In addition to the usual goal-setting discussions, simple things like direct contacts and communication styles should be discussed as early as possible. One of the most overlooked introductions is that of the accounting teams. As an agency that invests heavily in media annually, the accounting side of our operations is equally important as that of any other position on the team.
- Define accounting and billing protocols – Next on the checklist is billing protocols. When a campaign is implementing millions in ad buys, smooth sailing is defined by a mutually agreed upon process for getting bills and proof of performance through the system to the right person, and in a timely manner.
- Access to applicable platforms – The exchange of information is fairly heavy when there is a new client-agency relationship. And most times that starts with getting access to the right systems, including Google Analytics, social platforms, websites, case management systems, POS platforms, and countless others. It’s partly for getting the data for insight and strategy, and partly about linking systems for down the road reporting and dashboard implementation.
- Existing agreements – Given our role in the implementation of campaigns, we need to know what media commitments already exist. Depending on the goal conversation mentioned above, some will continue to live on to completion if they align with the approved strategy. Others, not so much.
- Library of assets – Creative is critical, so start sharing. While goals and strategy could call for a new direction, there is an immediate need to assess what material already exists, what could support existing initiatives, or what may improve current performance. Great creative takes time to produce, so getting a handle early on to what exists provides bearing to what other items need to be addressed.
- Connect with the media – A sizable portion of our work involves the media. Therefore, we get to know our media contacts as quickly as possible. Conversations are usually lengthy, for a sizing up of each other’s communication style is needed to get the most out of the relationship. And when done at the forefront, we check off the existing agreements item mentioned above.
- Create realistic timelines – Mutually agreed upon timelines are not only helpful in organizing the work that needs to be done, but they hold everyone accountable for completing the work and set clear directions for next steps.
Incorporating the steps above into an onboarding process reveals desired outcomes, and together, build the pathway to achieve success. It’s about understanding each other and their needs. At Morgan & Co., we believe that laying a solid foundation with our clients frees up time for the meaningful work that matters most. If you’re ready to begin the foundation of a strategy and media campaign that exceeds your brand’s goals, contact Morgan & Co., a media agency specializing in audience analysis, media strategy and analytics.