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Good Thinking | May 20, 2014 | 3 min read

Being in a marketing department these days is hard. Work is crazy. There are tons of demands, to-dos and back-to-back meetings. Customers are never happy. Trade audiences are challenging. And the agency doesn’t get it.

Having worked on both the client-side and agency-side of the marketing and communications worlds, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to be a “good client.” It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of getting work done. Below is a short list of some notes I have taken over the years to get the agency to work hard for you and for the greater good of your business. Hopefully, they resonate with you, too.

1. Be candid.
Agencies only get better with straight-forward feedback and collaboration. It’s not always easy, but it is so necessary to understand why our work may not be “just right” and how we can take what might not be working and make it better. Understanding what is working well and what we may need to take a look at is what we do. Don’t be afraid to work WITH us to make it better. We are here to listen, and sometimes we listen better when the feedback is direct.

2. Say thank you (when we deserve it).
Service industries are hard. We work “for you.” And, a “thank you” or a “that was great work” goes a long way toward being a great client. It’s motivating and reassures us that our work, as part of your team, is appreciated. People who are appreciated actually work harder for you, so it’s a win-win!

3. Give direction, not dictates.
Strategists, creative staff, media planners and production departments are problem solvers. We LOVE it. Tell us why something isn’t working, and we will fix it! Tell us how to make it work harder, and we will! We may solve it in ways you never thought about, and it will surprise and delight you. Sometimes, when we get feedback, like re-written copy, it puts us in a “do” mode instead of a “think” mode. Thinking yields better results. And, in the end, that’s what we are all after.

4. Start any plan, project or campaign with a business problem.
Our work is better when it solves a problem, and starting with the problem allows us to think strategically before we think tactically. It allows us to understand the target better, gain insights and generate Iconic Ideas to solve it. Iconic ideas are meaningful concepts or symbols that targets use to identify and share your brand, and they are rooted in solving business problems. We may develop a tactical solution that is differentiating, unique and surprising.

5. Share as much information as possible.
Agencies are made up of information junkies. We love data, research, examples, strategic thinking, business results and anything else that may be relevant to the business problem at hand. Yes, we are busy, and yes, we bill by the hour. But holding back information because of hours, budget or other reasons limits our thinking. Yes, sometimes there are business reasons for withholding information. We get that. However, if it is possible, the more information we have, the better our work will be.

6. Treat us like an extension of your team.
When agencies are treated like part of your team, we work harder. We love to be part of your business, working by your side, to deliver good business results. We are here to make you successful. Like any good team, there will be ups and downs. But when teams work together, the results speak for themselves. And, we love to do great work for you!