Creative digital agencies make their money by offering technical skills, knowledge of the online landscape and creativity. The good news is they’re there to help you through those difficult online marketing tasks; but the bad news is you probably don’t know enough about what they do to know whether you’re getting the most out of the relationship or not.
Here are 4 ways to add value to your relationship with a creative digital agency like us.
1. Take Part & Be Involved
Let’s be honest, when you are choosing a partner for digital marketing, you are looking for a team of geeks; people who not only know the techy stuff but also have a real passion for it. For precisely that reason, a good digital agency will be full of people who are desperate to tell you all about what they do. If they don’t want to talk to you, they are either not confident in their knowledge or are not good communicators, which is equally worrying because they are supposed to be communicating your brand messages.
Never underestimate the importance of signing off work. The more involved you are, the easier it is to catch potential issues early and nip them in the bud; so test, improve and sign off at every step.
2. Copy & Content
Ah, the chicken and the egg. What should come first; the design or the content?
To many, the creation of web content can be an unbearably daunting assignment. Worse still, some people misread the request for the client to write copy as laziness on the agency’s part. In fact though, it is one of the best ways to get more value out of your web design partner.
Good design embellishes content, so the content should be the starting point, not the last hurdle. The more content you can supply up-front, the easier it is for a web designer to create a design which corroborates messages in a clever way. It’s also easier for you to see the design in action as you suggest amends: a bespoke site should be fit-for-purpose and content gives the context needed to test that.
3. Plan Ahead
While they might be technically very clever, they still can’t read your mind. Work closely with the people who will be at the helm of the project within the agency and force them to think about scalability and flexibility. Talk about long term goals and the kinds of obstacles you think might be thrown at your business or brand. The agency will be able to find solutions, but only if you help them understand what needs to be solved.
4. Protect Yourself
Put everything in writing. It might seem obvious, but unfortunately most horror stories about web design projects centre on a lack of documentation. Logically, the unprofessional agencies out there will be the ones who don’t push for things in writing; so beware the warning signs!
Try to get:
- Line items on invoices
The easiest way to ensure that tasks get done is to marry up payments with invoice line items. Give yourself that ammo.
Make sure you get a signed proposal outlining timescales, costs, rights to amends, customer requirements, processes and any other promises made including post-launch support.
- Scoping Document, Strategy Document and/or Agreed Brief
As the work gets under way you should supply documentation to better direct your chosen agency and ensure that their work is focussed on achieving your unique goals.
A brief is a document which outlines where you are now and where you want to be after the project has finished; giving the agency everything they need to formulate a solution to achieve your pre-defined goals. A scoping document goes into detail about how things need to be achieved and how things need to work; allowing the agency and client to collaborate on finding the solution to the brief. A strategy document outlines the logic behind the full solution; a document that can be referred back to at any point in the future to steer decisions..
You should supply at least one of these documents, even if the agency has to help you with it. It will benefit them as much as you.
- Terms of Business
Copyrights, data protection, indemnity, guarantees and intellectual property; When you’re talking tech, you need to be careful. Things are hardly ever black-and-white plus precedents are still constantly being made. For once, read your T&C’s and ask for explanations where necessary. Also, remember that guarantees can be a bad thing if they are not made ethically. Be wary and critical of promises and push your agency for complete transparency.