If you want your agency to work better, just agree on how you engage

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One of my favourite conversations with a marketer, is when they called to complain that their agency was not meeting their expectations.
I usually asked three simply questions.
First, had they articulated their expectations to the agency?
Second, were there service expectations in the contract? No answer.
And finally, had they provided clear, well-structured feedback for the agency to address?
It is interesting how we often avoid these discussions and yet they are fundamental to developing and maintaining productive client / agency relationships.
Traditionally this was done with Service Level Agreements (SLAs) within the agency contract. But there are two problems with SLAs.
First, once the contract is signed it is often filed and never looked at again. So while the requirement and the dynamics of the relationship changes over time, the SLAs in the contract collect dust.
Second, SLA usually are one-dimensional and have no context for an interactive relationship like the client / agency relationship. That is, it is usually all about the agency and nothing about the marketer behaviour that can impact on the performance of the relationship.
This is why we developed the Engagement Agreement.
The Engagement Agreement is a collaborative process where all parties in the relationship get together to define their minimum expectations of each other at every point of interaction. From day-to-day communication to annual strategy and budgeting processes and everything in between.
The output of the process is a document owned by the various participants to the process to be used as a guide to how to work together’, it is a staff orientation document for those joining the relationship on both sides and a map to get the process and relationship back on track if it ever comes off the rails.
Rather than collecting dust, it documents the relationship and can evolve and change to meet the changing needs without requiring a change in the contract.
And it is owned by all parties who have agreed on how they best engage.
That is why we call them Engagement Agreements.

TrinityP3 – Strategic Marketing Management Consultants

Published in: Business
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