Tips for onboarding a new agency (after the first toast, of course)

Published December 13, 2016 11:13 pm by Julia Parisot
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Updated: 03/10/20

It’s always an exciting time when an agency wins a new piece of business. It starts with receiving the news, toasting with a glass of champagne, and then taking a deep breath to understand that the work starts almost immediately.

Here are some general tips our agency has developed within a framework; these upfront processes make sure we’re establishing clear expectations, defined accountabilities on the agency and client-side, and agreed-upon goals in the short term and long term.

Establish a 30/60/90-day onboarding plan

Timing is often compressed by the time a client has gone through an RFP process and selected their new agency. It can be challenging for clients to collect and turn over the needed background information and agency will need for their data dive. That’s why mapping it out in milestones for 30 days, 60 days and 90 days can help simplify things. By defining what success looks like in the short term, we can prioritize what needs to be done to address critical fixes while the long-term plan is being developed.

Introduce general agency workflow and processes 

This allows the entire client team to get a feel for what it will be like to work with the agency team—weekly status calls, status reports, and ongoing reporting or tools help create a vision of how the teams will work day to day, week to week, month to month and year over year.

This is also the perfect time to define the main points of contact and outline roles or responsibilities—this goes for both teams. Sometimes teams may shift as you transition from pitch to project, so re-introducing everyone and outlining who is in charge of what from one team to another can help workflow and processes

Conduct audits of existing platforms or marketing programs

Often a new agency will be taking over existing programs mid-stream. In order to improve or revise, an audit is necessary to make informed observations of how to adjust, optimize or start over if necessary, right from the start.

Part of this audit or discovery stage should also be a download on your target audience and key competitors, especially if they have shifted or weren’t mentioned during initial conversations. While your agency is probably already researching the market, competitive landscape and target audiences, be sure to help build their knowledge base. After all, this will help set you all up for success.

Develop a detailed transition plan 

After identifying opportunities or areas of improvement, you can move into creating an actual plan. Whether you call this a scope of work, tactical plan, retainer—it’s when you sit down with your agency to establish key goals and strategize how to achieve them. This will include setting short term goals that align with business objectives and establishing KPIs that are used to measure the success of programs.

From there, you can start to better define projects and team responsibilities. One thing to note is that establishing clear communication and frequent touchpoints from here on out will help keep everyone aligned throughout the onboarding process—and well after it. Be sure to share when strategies, goals or expectations shift and together, you and your agency can continue to seize opportunities and drive results.

Review and optimize

As you approach the 90-day mark of onboarding your new agency partner, take some time to evaluate how things are going. Review the performance of completed campaigns or projects, take note of team dynamics and check in on how your team and your agency’s team is feeling about the partnership overall. Perhaps you’ll come across some areas of improvement but hopefully, by incorporating some of these best practices from the start, you’ll increase the quality of your long-term success—and continue toasting to wins.