The 5 Love Languages of a Client/Agency Partnership

Apr 24, 2017 | 5  min
author Bonnie Horner

Have you ever completed the online quiz to determine your love language? You know, where you learn if you value quality time with your significant other over words of affirmation. The concept is based on the idea that relationships thrive when both parties try to express love in their partner’s language. All cheesiness aside, there is some truth to the idea of love languages, and the concept carries over into business connections.

Just like with personal relationships, working with an agency can be all rainbows and butterflies in the beginning. You just met and you’re spending a lot of time together. You haven’t learned each other’s annoying habits (we’ll let you know right now, we never unload the dishwasher). But once the honeymoon phase dies down, a lot of issues can arise. Beyond good chemistry, a good digital agency partnership must also be based on a solid foundation of mutual understanding…or…the love languages of a client/agency partnership.

So, if you recently broke up with your digital marketing agency and are ready to mend that broken heart, check out our recommendations below to set yourself up for success in your next engagement.

Are You in a Love/Hate Relationship?

Still deciding if you’re ready to get back in the game? We get it. Relationships are difficult, and those with agencies can be a love/hate relationship. To help you get back on the wagon, we made a list of pros and cons when it comes to working with a digital marketing agency (kind of like Ross’ Rachel vs. Julie list on Friends…but we aren’t afraid of who sees our list).

  • Location – in our global world, the best agency might not be in your town, let alone in your office.
  • Discovery period – we don’t claim to be an expert in your industry, but it takes time to learn as much as we can.
  • Cost – agencies can seem like a big bill to foot, especially when you can hire in-house staff.
  • Expertise – our specialized marketers have experience in different industries so they can bring new ideas to yours.
  • Time – our only priority is your project, leaving you time to focus on other tasks.
  • Cost – agencies only seem expensive. The amount of time and unique skills needed to run a successful digital marketing campaign costs less in the long run.

(I didn’t forget about you, Friends fans. Sneak away at lunch to watch “The One With The List,”)

Okay back to business…

What Makes A Good Digital Marketing Agency Partnership

01 – Communication

This love language seemed almost too obvious to include, but we’ve seen clients and agencies misfire from the very first date: the kickoff meeting.

Kickoff meetings are first impressions in the business world. Good communication in these meetings are integral to the success of the engagement, no matter how “small” the project is. We can’t say it enough – communicate, communicate, communicate. These meetings are opportunities for an agency to learn about your background, goals, target market, and resources.

Other tips include:

  • Bring your experts – not just marketing staff
  • Provide access to assets
    • Brand guides
    • Google Analytics
    • CMS platforms
  • Know who to contact
    • Account Manager, from the agency side
    • Main Point of Contact, on client-side
    • Decision Maker, on client-side
  • Be clear about how much time you can devote to feedback
  • Let us know how you prefer to be communicated with (e.g., should we call or email? We’re open to texting, too!)

Don’t feel like you need every detail determined for this meeting. An agency is the expert and should expect to do some level of discovery work—identifying where your digital marketing needs help, setting KPIs, etc. The main goal is for you and your agency to be honest from day one.

Love Languages - Communication

02 – Trust

Everyone has been betrayed at some point in their life, but your agency shouldn’t be the one who fools you. Can you rely on your agency to keep product-related secrets and meet deadlines?

But don’t blindly trust an agency. Look into their expertise, the types of work they do, and their past customers. Not sure you can trust again? Here are stories from the type of company we keep: Pyxl Case Studies.

Also, be honest about other vendor/agency relationships you have. We realize no one is working in a vacuum and know that, sometimes, the best thing for your company is to have a public relations agency or event planner overseeing specific elements of your marketing. We can play nice on a two-on-one date! It’s fun to collaborate and get new ideas. We just need to know what we’re getting into upfront to ensure strategy and messaging are aligned.

03 – Adaptability

If you did your background research, you should know your agency is trustworthy (see above), and a good agency should continue to foster that trust by having your best interest in mind. With that being said, you engaged an agency for a reason. Be open to new ideas. Don’t pay someone to design the same website or emails you used last year.

Agencies are clever and resourceful. Let them help you explore ideas you wouldn’t pursue on your own. Develop and launch a blog. Use smart content on your site to target specific users. Try a looping video as the background on your homepage. Just be open to suggestions.

On the flip side, we can also adapt—let us know how clever you want to get. What kind of voice and tone do you want your brand to take on or maintain? A good agency won’t get too crazy because all successful partnerships are collaborations. Let’s make sure we’re on the same page though with a little marketing therapy—where are the trouble spots in your current marketing efforts? How can we expand your brand? How can we get your customers engaged with you?

04 – Conflict Resolution

We don’t have to pretend everything is peachy all the time. We know there will be arguments because an agency isn’t the expert in your business—you are! And while it is important to pick your battles in every relationship, if content or designs aren’t what you expected, don’t give sugar-coated feedback thinking you’ll save our feelings. A good marketing agency wants you to feel comfortable so you can freely speak your mind about what irks you. Holding back initial reactions can ultimately derail deadlines because developers, designers, and writers then have to make more detailed corrections further down the line.

We’re here to help you meet your goals, but we can’t do that if you aren’t clear that we’re missing the mark. Provide feedback, comments, and suggestions early and often.

05 – Quality Time

Long-distance relationships can be difficult, even in the era of video chats, email, and text. If you’re doing the long-distance thing with your agency, keep in mind that there is nothing better than an in-person meeting. Consider holding your kick-off and/or discovery meetings at your office. Let agency staff conduct face-to-face interviews with key stakeholders to learn more about your business.

Also, even though our roots are in Tennessee, did you know that Pyxl has offices across the country? So even if we already admitted to not unloading the dishwasher, we’re really good hosts ourselves.

Next, remember that while long-distance relationships can be rough, long-term agency engagements have some serious benefits. You’ve invested a lot of time into bringing an agency up-to-speed on your business, so think about keeping them around for more than just a website refresh. We can’t speak to the others, but visit our services page to see the other projects Pyxl can handle.

So, are you and your marketing agency on the same page? If not, we’d love to help you find the perfect match.

Now you’re speaking my language!

Updated: Sep 07, 2023

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