5 essential ingredients of a great agency relationship

5 essential ingredients of a great agency relationship

What do you look for when selecting a new agency to partner with your business? Sure, past performance is a great indicator of an agency’s capabilities. But it pays to dig a little deeper to determine exactly what the agency will deliver.

Here, we share key questions that you should ask – both of your business and of the agency – before signing on the dotted line. 

  1. Open communication and trust is essential. What is the agency’s approach?

While this may seem a no-brainer, it is important to clarify how an agency will communicate with your stakeholders. Do they provide weekly reports? Monthly performance updates? Annual reviews? Consider what your business needs from a reporting perspective and ensure it will be delivered.

Beyond reporting, look at day-to-day communication, too. Testimonials from their other clients are valuable here, to demonstrate the level of trust they have built in the past. 

  1. Be clear about your expectations. Do you want strategic problem solvers who think outside the box, or task-oriented addendums to your team? 

In many cases, an agency is brought on board to deliver fresh thinking, the latest tools, and new strategies to help you grow your business. Agencies have senior strategists who are experts in their fields, and whose primary purpose is to follow the trends and advise on their application to your business. They do the hard research and thinking, and bring you both the insights and the methodology for executing on these insights.

With the right agency behind you, this investment in innovation and strategic insight can set your business up for long-term success. 

  1. Open up your business to the agency. How willing are they to get involved?

To deliver successful campaigns and overall strategy, an agency needs to understand your business – or, at least, key services, products or components – inside-out. From the products or services themselves to the target audience and other partnership, your agency needs to be across this info.

A simple but effective way to ascertain how willing the agency is to learn about your business is to invite them to internal strategy sessions. Will they give the time to come in, listen and ask questions?

A great agency is one that regards your business as an extension of their own and vice versa. They live and breathe your brand, your product, your services – and everything they do should be geared towards strengthening their understanding of what you do. 

  1. An agency must deliver tangible value. How do they prove this?

The bottom line is that you on-board agencies to boost your bottom line. Their role may be to raise revenue by growing your customer base; or it may be to achieve cost savings by driving down the cost of customer acquisition. Whatever their purpose or intent, it is very important that your agency can demonstrate true business value – so that you can justify the investment to your stakeholders.

Look beyond KPIs like traffic metrics. Ask the agency if they can translate this data into true value for your brand. Can they demonstrate the true value of a conversion or a sale? Remember that you need to play a part here, too – by providing the agency with sufficient information to make these crucial links.

  1. You must be satisfied with service levels. Are you after a low-touch or high-touch relationship?

Think about your existing team. What is your business capable of delivering itself? What is the agency’s expected role and how much will you be leaning on them for the project or ongoing relationship?

If you have a very hands-on, tightly integrated marketing department that works closely with in-house digital and creative teams, then you may only need low-touch service from your agency. That is, an agency that can step in at any time to respond to new briefs and directives.

Or, if your business is under-resourced or looking for an agency that can steer the ship, so to speak, then you’ll need a high-touch relationship that delivers a corresponding level of service.

And remember, while it’s easy to presume that all agencies can deliver both low-touch and high-touch service models, it always pays to ask. 


There may be other questions that are specific to your business or the project you seek to engage an agency for. Of course, add these questions to the list. Then, approach prospective agencies with the confidence that you are performing due diligence in the task of finding the right partner for your business.

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