The internet and technology allow you to work with your full service marketing firm remotely, but there are at least four times you should sit down in person with your agency.

When I first started working in this business as an Account Coordinator, I sent a lot of faxes.  Creative briefs and estimates, copy drafts and schedules – even layout revisions when under a time crunch.  I sent faxes because internet connections were slower, PDFs weren’t as advanced as today, and nobody had heard of signing electronically.  I’d like to say that marketing and advertising was done at a slower pace, but I believe the reality is we were pushing as fast and hard as we could against the technology of the day.

What I do know to be true is I attended many more meetings.  Meeting in person proved to be faster at times than other communication methods.  I particularly enjoyed working as part of a four-person account team for a key client where we had Friday morning client breakfast meetings, every week.

Face time is productive time and though much of what we do for marketing can be handled via e-mail, phone or web conference and even the trusty old fax, here are the four instances when I like to meet in person with my clients.

1. When your agency presents initial creative drafts.  Invite your agency to give you a “dog and pony show” when they present new creative to you. Even if you’ve been working with the same team for a decade or more, having creative presented in person is the best way to see reactions, ask pointed questions, read body language and have heated debates about the merits of one concept over the next.  This doesn’t need to be overly formal, but in my opinion it’s certainly better than downloading a PDF.

2. Media planning sessions.  Planning sessions of all types are good to do in person, but media in particular is beneficial.  Oftentimes you’re discussing a large portion of your annual budget, so being able to sit at a table and look at publications, media kits and recommendations together results in good collaboration.

3. New initiatives and project kickoffs.  Anytime your company tasks you with a new initiative that will require the assistance of your marketing firm, bring them in for a meeting.  I’ve participated in a lot of exploratory meetings with my clients involving everyone from product engineers to sales teams.  If you’re undertaking something new, knowledge transfer and collaboration works most effectively face-to-face.

4. When things are going wrong.  You’re on round five of concepts and it’s just not clicking.  An invoice was far over the estimate.  There’s a glaring typo in the brochures just printed.  Whatever the issue, if something’s not right that your agency is responsible for, talk to them in person.  I know it may be tempting to not have to deliver bad news to your agency contact’s face, but trust me, it’s for the best.  Your agency should be your partner and they’re going to want every opportunity to fix whatever has gone awry. Being able to “face the music” in person will go a long way towards forging a resilient and lasting client/agency relationship.

5. Bonus – Celebration of successes! Don’t forget to get together with your agency and celebrate successes, big or small!