Often, we find that the Austin-area B2B tech companies we work with have been disappointed with the performance of their past agency partners. Common at the top of this list of grievances is poor communication.

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

– Peter Drucker, Management Consultant, Educator and Author

To a large degree, as always in business, this is the fault of the service provider, who promised success and has not achieved it. Whether you’re working with an agency on one or multiple initiatives, effective communication can drastically affect the success of the goals your team began the partnership with. To help your business better leverage your agency relationship and get the level of service you expect from a professional service provider, we’ve put together a list of best practices for communicating with your marketing agency.

Don’t get lost in semantics

The most frustrating miscommunications happen when no one realizes the miscommunication until it’s too late. Frequently, this happens due to marketing and/or business jargon that people use (or misuse) differently depending on their previous experiences. Especially in newer fields like social media and marketing automation, certain terms can have very different meanings to people depending on the tools they use and the length of time they’ve spent in the field. Avoid the trap and cut through the jargon – define everything.

Examples of jargon that we see confused often:

  • Campaign: First there is the general marketing term “campaign.” Then, there is the term in multiple technologies, which can have synonyms as vast as: workflow, action, email send or paid post, depending on who you’re talking to and what about. It may seem obvious and it may seem basic, but be sure you understand what your marketing team is saying when they talk about campaigns.
  • Engagement: Can refer to a type of program, an algorithm indicating social media post success or generically refer to activity around an email or asset.
  • Lead: Referring to a specific person? A certain lead status or lifecycle stage? A type of record in Salesforce? You can see how this can get confusing fast.

Schedule a regular, face-to-face meeting

And keep the meeting. Even if emails get lost or not sent at all, this is where you can get everything on the table that needs to be on the table. Cadence of the meetings is really dependent on the intensity of the engagement, but we find most of our engagements are best served with biweekly or monthly face-to-face sit-downs.

Request reporting

We cannot emphasize this enough. In your mind, the agency should be doing this anyway, right? It’s part of their job – and the best agencies would certainly agree and scope it in automatically. To the average agency, however, reporting is a service to the client and if it’s not requested, it’s simply not done. You can ask to include reporting at any point in your engagement. A pro tip to get the reporting thrown in: in exchange for reporting, offer to be available for a case study after the engagement (or if the engagement is on-going, 6 months in).