Advice How to do marketing

Great agency, great clients: how to be excellent to one another

Hiring a marketing agency means paying someone else to sweat the specialist stuff so you don't have to. But it's no good unloading one set of problems just to get as many back in managing and chasing that agency.

And that's why finding and hiring great agencies, rather than just any agency, is so important.

Here at Articulate Marketing, we believe it's our job is to help you achieve your goals. In this article, I want to outline what that means in terms of behaviour, expectations and our aspirations about how we want to work with clients. It can also serve as a checklist for evaluating the greatness of any agency you're considering hiring.

Great agency

This is what you should expect from us (and any good content marketing agency):

  • Available. Unless you want War and Peace by Wednesday, we’re available to do your project. We have three writers on staff and we can call on trusted contractors for extra capacity if we need it. We’re not going to say ‘no, we’re too busy’.
  • Enthusiastic. We’re geeks and proud of it. We like what we do. We like our clients. We are entranced by technology. We love helping our customers grow their business.
  • Competent. We have whip smart writers and experienced editors. We’ve been working in B2B technology copywriting for more than 12 years. We’ve produced more than a million words of copy for the world’s best-known tech companies.
  • Knowledgeable. Our experience in the industry means that we already know a lot about the technology world but we make a special effort to understand your products, company and market.
  • Hassle-free. We ‘solve for the customer’ to try to make the process as easy for you as possible. Of course, we’ll chase you for anything we need to get the job done but our fundamental goal is to make your life easier.
  • Part of your team. We like it when clients ask us for advice and involve us in their thinking and planning. The earlier we get involved the more effective we can be.
  • Responsive. We respond to messages and queries promptly. We try to react to feedback within two working days.
  • On time. Your deadline is our deadline. If you give us what we need to do the job, we’ll get it done according to the agreed schedule.
  • Honest. If there’s a problem, we’ll tell you. If we’re fed up about something, we’ll tell you. If we make a mistake, we’ll tell you.

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Great client

There are some things you can do to help us do a better job for you:

  • Understand our planning cycle. We have adopted a weekly sprint working model so we plan our week on Monday afternoons and allocate work for the whole week then.
  • Learn to love Basecamp. We use it for project management and collaboration. We open it up to clients and we love clients who embrace it for feedback and monitoring progress.
  • Give positive feedback. We expect feedback and comments on our work but we leap like performing seals if you throw us some fish: praise, results, colleagues’ comments, customer feedback etc.
  • Remember that we’re human. Delays, typos and mistakes sometimes happen and so do illnesses and temporary attacks of stupidity. We’ll do our best to correct problems if they happen.
  • Give good briefs. Your brief should cover business goals, target audience, format and length. We love customers who have clear style guidelines and audience personas.
  • Set realistic deadlines. Writing is much more than just ‘writing’ and it takes time. We try hard to pull deadline rabbits out of late-briefing hats but we do our best work if we have space to plan, think and edit.
  • Remember that we’re a business too. Approve invoices and pay bills on time. Sort out the paperwork such as purchase orders quickly. Nothing kills our buzz more than a bad debt.
  • Don’t forget the human dimension. Here are 11 things to do at the start of a business relationship. For longer projects, regular meetings and in-person phone calls are a good idea.

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Matthew Stibbe

Matthew is founder and CEO of Articulate Marketing. Writer, marketer, pilot, wine enthusiast and geek. Not necessarily in that order. Never at the same time.