24 Ways To Develop a Successful Partnership with Your Marketing/Web Design Agency

With almost 15 years experience in marketing and web design, I’ve pretty much seen it all – good projects, bad projects, cancelled projects and all the fun things that happen in between. After all that time, it’s easy to know what to expect from a client before and during a project – but as a client – it can get tricky. How does a client know what to expect if they’re not web designers or marketers?

Sometimes our clients are coming from previous bad projects and are relying on that experience, some assume all agencies and designers have the same process or if new to the website process, they may not have a realistic understanding of what goes into a particular project and what’s required of them.

Well let’s clear the air! These 24 ways to develop a successful partnership is a list of tips and tricks on working with a professional marketing/web design agency – how to contribute to make the project more efficient, how to make sure you and your designers or marketing consultants are on the same page and how to communicate to make sure you get exactly what you need from your project.

  1. It’s part of our job to interpret what you’re sharing so don’t be afraid to be direct about your requests even if it’s just with specific examples. Even an incomplete or quick mockup can help save money and time in revisions!
  2. Familiarize yourself or inquire about image resolution, specifically what can and can’t be done and why. We’re often asked to create flyers or some type of print material using pictures from the internet, (like a Facebook avatar) and unfortunately they generally do not work, unless you want a fuzzy face!
  3. Your procrastination on a project will require that you invest extra dollars to translate to an agency’s or designer’s emergency. Sweet talk, begging and/or being rude won’t help much either. Consider your own timelines in advance and proactively discuss unexpected or urgent changes.
  4. No one likes to have their time wasted. We will honor our project commitments and deliverables and count on you to do the same. If you contact us multiple times about starting a project started and never follow through, we question your commitment. Please don’t put us in the position of declining a client relationship.
  5. We don’t expect you to be computer wizards, that’s our job! However, we do have to balance how much education we can provide. If you prefer to have every step interpreted and explained in detail, we’ll be happy to do so and will adjust costs accordingly.
  6. Count on us to talk with you about realistic deadlines. A fully loaded customized eCommerce website cannot be developed “real quick”. We count on your partnership with respect to the timeframe. In order to become comfortable with timeframes, don’t be afraid to get proposals from other designers to compare prices and timeframes before jumping into a project!
  7. When it comes to timelines, we are both part of the project process and missing deadlines on either of our ends causes timelines to slip and often increases costs. If you miss a deadline when we’re counting on your information to inform the next step, we will be unable to finish within the same initial timeframe. If you take extra time to share information with us, it typically extends your project’s deadline by that same amount of time.
  8. We are really diligent about keeping records of emails, messages and notes from conversations and meetings – so if you accidentally make a mistake or omit something, especially in the final proof, tell us about it and we can troubleshoot a solution together. Please don’t blame your error on us and make us pull our notes out and shame you – we really want to collaborate with you!
  9. Good designers really hate hearing when you’re duped by another (usually amateur) designer, and we’ll try our hardest to make things right. However, we unfortunately will not be able to adjust our rates to make up for your loss. We retain our standard rates to ensure that we can support both the cost of doing business and because we often end up doing additional work to analyze what was done inadequately and either correct the work or re-start from scratch.
  10. If you’re looking for low-cost or complimentary work, consider supporting a high school or college student that’s majoring in Graphic Design. Be warned, this will likely serve you best only if you need a basic website, otherwise you could get exactly what you paid for.
  11. It’s easiest for us if you send us pictures via Dropbox or in a zip file. Pictures in a Word document or PowerPoint slide requires extra steps (and time) to extract your images – sometimes this may not be the best method as we may need an image to have a transparent background.
  12. We understand that emergencies arise and business priorities change. Therefore, if you unexpectedly need us to accelerate your project, we have a premium acceleration package that you can purchase at any time during the project and we’ll take your project straight to the front of the line, no questions asked.
  13. Some designers are willing to barter but don’t assume they just will. If your designer is open to a polite inquiry, ask them what standards they have for bartering as most of them are looking for comparable professional work in exchange for their services.
  14. Designer’s secret: Your assessment of what it takes us to complete a project or element of a project often misses key steps that we take to assure quality completion of a project. We take pride in what we do and the core of our business rests upon it. Please engage in a two-way discussion with us to confirm whether something can actually be done “real quick”.
  15. If you want to minimize costs, you can help streamline meetings. Make sure that there’s an agenda with topics you want to discuss so that things are addressed quickly and easily. Include an end time to your agenda – it will prevent derailing conversations in the meeting and give you more control over the cost of the meeting.
  16. Want to speed up the website development process? Have your content already written (at least in rough draft form) before you even seek out proposals – it will save you time and money in the long run. If you can find an agency or designer that provides content services (like iPressGo!), even better!
  17. We want to deliver exactly what you need and sometimes we will engage you in a dialogue to calibrate on definitions. For example, feedback like more “edge”, “pop” and “mojo” might mean different things to different people and audiences.
  18. We delight in inviting you along our journey of experience and don’t expect you to know “design talk”. In fact, we can tell if you just looked up a few things on Google and are trying to just look cool. We prefer candor and don’t mind if you are learning along the way.
  19. We appreciate the opportunity to engage with you in work ranging from the simple to complex, inexpensive to fully customized. We have packages for all levels and can show you client projects along with providing excellent references. As a result, we do not offer complimentary services in exchange for future paid work.
  20. Just like in the rest of life, if you complain a lot about your previous agency or designer, we will wonder if you’re complaining a lot about us! We hope not, and if something is not to your liking, please let us us know. The sooner we can troubleshoot a situation the easier it usually is to resolve.
  21. Designers confession: scope creep is difficult for us to navigate when it’s not recognized by the client. When a client wants to see numerous and extended variations of one item – this often tells us that the client is not yet clear in what they want. At this stage, there are two options, pause while the client goes back to the drawing board for more clarity, extend the package of work to accommodate further exploratory proposals.
  22. We use design to subconsciously guide the viewer to do something, like click the big red shiny button. But if the reason to click the button isn’t compelling enough through the content, there isn’t any amount of big, red or shiny that button can do to make them click it.
  23. We recognize that sometimes you need additional technology support outside of the scope of what we offer and you might like to take advantage of our network. When we can, we will be happy to refer you to professionals that can setup Wi-Fi for your office, help you sync your phone and or determine why your computer isn’t recognizing your CD drive anymore.
  24. In our experience, working with one leader in an organization that has both authority and decision rights works best. Design by committee involves a lot of people wanting to see their idea as part of the mix and this might distract or cause disagreements. In a worst case scenario, it can also leave a design looking cluttered and unbalanced with a scattered, confusing message. If there’s more than two people on the project, we recommend you identify the final decision maker that will serve as the primary point of contact with the agency or designer.