Everyone makes mistakes, but avoiding these 5 common ones will help save time, money and make working with a marketing firm more successful.

Every marketing project creates opportunities for both great successes or tremendous failures.  Thankfully the tremendous failures have been very few and very far between in my career, but if you do anything long enough, eventually you’ll get an outcome that you’re embarrassed by. After having worked on countless thousands of projects over the span of my career I’ve noticed  five common mistakes that clients can inadvertently make.  While no process can be 100% fool-proof, avoiding these five should make your job easier and the results of your efforts more successful.

1.  Not having correct input.  Thorough input into each project is critical to helping your marketing agency stay on time, on budget and on message.  Make sure you take the time to appropriately brief your agency contacts on all aspects of the project and ask for a creative brief to be drafted if the scope of the project warrants it. The creative brief document will help you think of potential variables and serve to inform creative staff that may not be as attuned to your business as your individual account manager. Neglecting key input at the beginning of a project will derail a project down the road.  To get it back on track will cost time, money and effort.

2. Not getting buy-in up front. The client contact working with the marketing agency day-to-day is not always the final decision maker on a project.  I’ve seen projects get all the way to the final approval stage, even having passed legal sign off, and the final decision maker kills it or severely alters direction based upon information known only to them or a few C-suite executives.  To save face with your boss and to be a good steward of your company’s marketing dollars, be sure to get buy-in on projects ahead of doing the work.  Then, even if the final decision maker kills or changes a project (which will still happen), you’ve done your due diligence and will have perhaps influenced the decision maker enough to make a measured judgement.

3. Losing sight of the project goals. Creative is a fluid process and a lot of small choices influence the final outcome.  Particularly on projects with longer timelines, getting off course can be the result of not keeping the goals in mind.  You and your agency may do a fine job of staying on budget and schedule, but if the final outcome is not on message, it’s all for not.  Be sure to compare drafts of work presented to the stated project goals as outlined in the creative brief.  Your agency should be doing this as well, helping to sell their creative decisions to you each step of the way.  

4. Not committing adequate internal resources to the project.  Marketing managers often need input from other departments within their company; engineers for technical specifications, legal for compliance, even customer service for process questions.  Successful marketing projects are the result of a collaborative process, and that includes having the proper internal resources on board to provide input and review drafts.  Not having these resources lined up can stall a project or cause it to be incorrect or simply lackluster. 

5. Not trusting your agency.  This is the biggest mistake of all.  As long as your agency hasn’t given you a reason NOT to trust them, you should.  Successful relationships are built on trust, and with a marketing agency that is your partner, they’ll have a vested interest in having each project be a success.  Trust their judgement, creative recommendations and critiques.  That’s what they were hired for.

Help guide your agency in making the right choices by providing solid input and giving open and honest feedback, but then trust them to do the job they’ve been hired for.