Today’s blog is one specifically for my colleagues in the marketing category. Particularly those of you who have found themselves in the thrall of fraught communication battles fought from the respective positions of marketing manager and agency talent.
Too often, poor relationships between creative agencies and internal marketing managers result in substandard outcomes for clients. This is unacceptable, and all too common a phenomenon. A breakdown in creative relationships is evinced in the high turnover found in the marketing category – in both client-facing and client-siding positions.
As a social media expert agency, Ruby Assembly prioritise forming productive, creative and respectful relationships with our ‘others’ – whether they be marketing managers, advertising assistants or business owners. In today’s blog, I proffer some key pointers garnered from many years of liaising with our clients and their marketing teams to building respectful, truly collaborative relationships. Whether you’re a freelancer, agency talent or a client-side marketing manager, learning to work harmoniously to the advantage of your client is an art. That’s why we’re here, after all – to serve our clients’ interests and develop outstanding communications with real staying power.
Collaboration, Not Competition
Often, agency talent and marketing managers perceive one another as threats. This is unnecessary and unproductive. Understand that first and foremost you’ve both been appointed by your client / employer to fulfil a particular role – you’re engaged to build brand awareness and improve their bottom line. You’ve not been engaged to show how your counterpart’s strategy is substandard, or to play weird power games. Work together. If this means regularly getting together (whether in person – which I prefer – or on Skype) to discuss your strategies and ideas, do so. Both sides of the equation will have their own unique strengths and specialities, so focus on bringing those to the fore in your client work rather than dissimulating to hide your own blind spots.
Patience and Respect
There’s no more anxious time for new marketing talent or a freshly-hired marketing manager than their first few weeks in the hot seat. In my experience, this period of time is really ‘make or break’ for the agency-marketing manager relationship. If you’ve been working with your client for a long period of time, you may feel defensive at a perceived ‘interloper’ coming in to upend your strategy. You may be resistant to new ideas, and take them as an affront to your knowledge and efforts so far.
If you’re new to a brand, you can feel under intense pressure to show why your contribution is necessary. Often, this anxiety to prove value can lead to the uprooting of really valuable strategy, and wholesale changes that are of little real value to brand impact.
For the sake of both sides of the equation: the start of your collaboration is a time for patience and respect. Patience for the newbie who has much to learn, and for their sense of ‘wanting to make a mark’ on the brand. Respect for the individual(s) who have already been working hard to build the brand with their own mature strategies in place.
My advice is: don’t snap at changes or think the end of the world is nigh… and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Y’know?
Understand Your Limitations
The best marketing managers we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with understand their strengths, and respect our expertise. They collaborate – they do not micro-manage or attempt to impose their own internal systems onto our agency. They are also the first to acknowledge when they don’t know something, and look to experts to address their deficit. Creative talent who respect their client and want to build great relationships with their marketing managers will also be frank when something is beyond their skill-set.
If you work in marketing, being able to work harmoniously and productively on either side of the ‘client’ divide is critical to your growth – and success in your role. Approach all your communications with courtesy and care, and focus on doing a great job together – not in competition with one another.