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So, You’ve Found a Great Agency Partner. What’s Next?

Recently, we posted about the best ways to identify a trusted agency partner during an event agency’s sales pitch, but choosing a partner is only the first step to a great agency partnership.

Once the challenge of making the decision is behind you, the work of effective collaboration can really begin. As you hit the ground running with a new creative or event agency, it’s time to shift from choosing a partner to managing one.


To support that transition, we’re highlighting the concrete steps you (and your agency) can take to optimize your work together and create a seamless client-agency relationship.


Defining Your Agency Relationship & Laying the Groundwork for Long-Term Partnership


Think of an RFP process as a vibe check. You’ve chosen your agency partner because your values, goals, and ways of working seem to align, but that doesn’t mean you’ll naturally fall into an effective working dynamic. To accelerate the process of coming together and give your partnership the best foundation, here are five ways to clarify expectations with your agency, define your collaborative approach, and strengthen your relationship from the outset.


Build your internal project team to work in concert with the agency team using the “3 Cs”: Curation, Culture, and Chemistry.

While a great agency should be thinking about the best team they can offer you and your project, you’ll see more success when you’re ready to meet that team head-on with counterparts on your side who can collaborate immediately and directly. Take responsibility for developing—and integrating your team and that of your agency into a cohesive, high-performing team. As you bring your internal team together, consider: 

  • Curation: Choose internal team members who bring the knowledge your agency needs to the table. This means people who not only know the ins and outs of project objectives from your side, but people with expertise that complements and supports the strengths the agency brings to the table. For example, if you are asking your agency partner to develop an inspiring program centered on three key initiatives, you will want team members with a vast knowledge of and access to, your storytelling assets in those three key areas.
  • Culture: Prepare your team to collaborate with an external partner and get ready to welcome that partner into your midst. Think about what your agency needs to know about how your organization works and what matters most to your project. Look for ways to introduce them to your values and goals as quickly as you can. 
  • Chemistry: Whether you feel your team works best with an informal or formal style, or something in between, set the tone for collaboration early and help people develop clear lines of communication and healthy working relationships. Model your expectations in your own interactions with your agency partners.

Create a team charter.

As you work to integrate your agency team into your day-to-day interactions and culture, don’t be afraid to take a straightforward approach, onboarding your new agency colleagues in a way similar to how you’d introduce new hires. Consider creating a team charter that can help everyone get up to speed as quickly and smoothly as possible. Use this charter to:

  • Clearly establish all roles—Who works with whom? Who is accountable for what types of information, input, and tasks? Who makes what kinds of decisions, how?
  • Outline everyday working expectations—How does your team prefer to receive information? How responsive should everyone expect to be? Etc.

Setting clear expectations for day-to-day working practices can go a long way to resolving potential conflicts and confusion, increasing efficiency. While a good partnership always works out these kinks in time, there’s no reason not to open up such a practical and useful conversation from the very beginning.


Encourage a “challenger mindset” from your agency.

The vibe check during the sales process was great, you chose this agency for a reason. But while you want a good cultural fit and a team you enjoy working with, no organization wants a “yes man” from their agency partner. Empower your agency team to speak up and share their expertise in productive ways:

  • Let your agency know why you selected them. What strengths or experiences are you especially excited for them to bring to your work together?
  • Make it clear that you want to hear alternative thoughts and strategies, even if you may ultimately decide against adopting them.
  • Trust your agency’s expertise. When your agency team has the expertise you or your organization lack, don’t be afraid to defer to their leadership. Ask questions and ensure you understand their approach well.

Establish KPIs for the relationship.

It’s easy to boil an agency relationship down to its ultimate outcomes: did the event go well, or not? did we meet our expected goals? But any teacher will tell you that waiting till the end of the semester to look at your course grade isn’t always a great idea! From efficiency markers like timelines and budgets, to measures of creativity and constituency impact, KPI’s can provide a helpful reference for the real-time health of your project. While underperforming on a KPI isn’t always an indicator of an agency shortcoming, it can frequently show you where your team is meeting unexpected obstacles that could impact success, helping you start a conversation with your agency partner about how to adjust sooner rather than later. In addition to measuring impact and outcomes, we recommend establishing KPIs to evaluate:

  • Agency Qualitative Performance
  • Agency/Client Team Chemistry and Collaboration
  • Quality of Creativity & Innovation in the Work

Make performance management a regular, 360-degree exercise.

While KPIs can help identify red flags over the course of a project, there’s no substitute for a holistic approach to performance evaluation.

  • Build in quarterly opportunities for evaluation with your agency partner.
  • Include self-assessments as well as a bilateral assessment of your working relationship.

When things are going smoothly this can be a simple process, affirming that your current approach is the right one. When event needs are ramping up and pressure is increasing, regular evaluations allow you to make adjustments quickly before they become a major issue, setting you and your agency partner up for success.

Setting you and your agency partner up for success

While it’s your partner’s job to bring strategic expertise, creativity, and efficient execution to your relationship, ultimately, they follow your lead. To maximize their performance—whether in creative work or event support and management—take a leadership role, not just in managing your project or event, but in agency partnership management as well. An exceptional partner will not only follow your lead, but seamlessly integrate into your team and culture, filling the gaps you hired them to fill and pushing your work to new heights.


Once you've laid this foundation, expected challenges can appear. How do you handle these hurdles? Stay tuned for our next article, Course Correction: Get the Best Out of Your Agency Partnership for strategies that not only strengthen team collaboration but encourage resiliency and adaptability.


At August Jackson, we believe that developing powerful brand engagement begins with mutual understanding and strong partnerships. We value the relationships we have with our clients and, together, aim to develop activations and communities built from the same foundation. 

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