Signing up with a marketing, advertising, or public relations can be a pretty monumental step in your business growth. You’re going to be working with a bunch of creative cut-throat Mad Men types, and you’re their number one star – you’re their client!

Yet, here’s the thing…

They’re not working for you. They’re working with you.

What any creative agency will tell you if they have an honest conversation with you, is that they need you to work with them in order to maximize your investment. However, the reality that this doesn’t happen for a number of reasons, due to mainly failures in scheduling and failures in communication.

Failures in Scheduling

Any creative agency you work with, whether a start-up for a big name company, needs to know what’s on your agenda in order to respond to it appropriately and in a timely manner. Failing to inform them of an event only limits their ability to prepare some opportunity to visibility, preferably one that can be scaled.

Case in point: Your company just booked a role on a major TV show, such as the History Channel or TLC. However, if you’re waiting until the last minute to notify your collaborative agency, then there’s only so much they can do. Keep in mind that they need to secure Trade Agreement Releases from the media company. They’ll need to plan out social, possibly create graphics, get the info on your home page, and draft a press release that will have a lengthy approval process considering all parties involved.

This takes time – and if you’re not giving your agency the advanced notice to take these steps, then you’re limiting the reach you have from any potential opportunity. Remember that it’s not so much what you do; it’s how many people see what you do. And that’s really what creative teams are all about. They’re about helping you maximize visibility.

One way to thwart this problem is to keep invested in creative meetings that you agency has set out for you. These tend to happen on a weekly or monthly basis. Make sure you show up and are ready to go with the information they need.

Failures in Communication

The culprit behind any failed collaborative initiative is almost always a failure in communication. Bottlenecked communications means lost opportunity and wasted dollars. You can take steps to prevent this problem by having a project manager on your end to help facilitate any creative, marketing, or ad investments you’re making. Chances are that the agency will have an account executive dedicated to your company. This helps funnel communication through one point person. On the same note, you should have one point person in your company funneling communication back to the agency.

Simply put, you need to offer up a marketing liaison. The marketing agency you hired needs a high level of collaboration – unless you’re working with a marketing “chop shop.” Having someone who understands all aspects of marketing, who happens to be working as your internal marketing manager, ensures that you’re getting someone “on your side” who knows how to best utilize an agency. If you can get someone who understands both marketing and PR, consider yourself lucky. This person will not only understand content, design, social media, and SEO, but they’ll also understand PR opportunities and know who to encourage and support those efforts.

Another way to think about communication is to think of everyone’s department and their respective roles. Most agencies will give you a break down but you can request a conversation with each person (10) minutes that really helps you understand them and what they do. Once you really understand who’s who and what they do, you can better plan your efforts so that you’re maximizing the in-house team for which you’re paying.