Get the Best Work
Partner With Your Direct Response Agency to Produce On-Budget, On-Schedule Campaigns
By Hallie Mummert
Few relationships are more slippery than that of direct marketer and agency, or direct marketer and freelance creative professional. After all, the creative process is often a subjective one, where the direct mail package or space ad is only as good as the client says it is.
Even more troublesome is when the market judges the creative effort a flop: Can the reason be traced back to the agency or the client's involvement in the final product? Let's face it, when all goes right, no direct marketer questions its choice of creative partners.
To get some tips on how to establish a strong working relationship with agencies and freelance professionals—and get the best work—Target Marketing's Editor in Chief Hallie Mummert checked in with Karen Rice Gardiner, creative director, marketing services of The National Geographic Society, a publisher of books, magazines, videos and catalogs in Washington, D.C.
TM: What are the hallmarks of a productive relationship between marketer and agency?
Rice Gardiner: You know you have a good relationship when you look forward to working together on future projects.
For me, it's knowing that the agency will work with my schedule, despite those occasional stumbling blocks that throw a wrench in the works.
And when an agency comes to you with ideas—even when it's not working on a job for you at the moment—that shows me that it's thinking about my business.
From the agency's point of view, it's a good relationship if it knows [the client] will pay the invoice when it comes in. Cash flow is a big issue for agencies, [so timely payment goes a long way to establishing trust].
TM: What is the most effective way to review your agency's work—campaign by campaign, followed by an annual review?