So you’ve hired a creative marketing agency for your credit union or bank. Congratulations!

But now what?

It’s not uncommon for financial institutions to see pretty marketing from their competitors, get a little green with envy and think, “We need that too!” So they hire a creative marketing agency to add a little spice to their collateral.

The marketing vendor comes on board and…nothing productive happens.

Wheels spin. Emails fly. Headaches ensue.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are six easy ways to make sure your creative agency works for you, and not the other way around.

 

1. Focus on strategy

 

Strategy drives creative. Every single piece your creative agency produces must relate to your target audience, your strategic goals and your credit union or bank’s vision. It will not work otherwise.

 

2. Keep them accountable

 

You should be having weekly status calls with your creative agency. These don’t need to be long, but they do need to address current and upcoming projects. If your creative agency has promised to deliver something—including ROI reports—then it’s completely appropriate to ask for it until it’s delivered.

 

3. Maximize scheduled calls

 

While your creative agency should no doubt make themselves readily available to you at any time, maximizing the scheduled status calls is the best way to maintain an efficient and productive relationship with your agency. Remember, you own the communication. Use this scheduled time to ask questions and address concerns. Don’t get caught in the rut of routine.

 

4. Be specific with requests

 

Like any relationship, your creative marketing agency unfortunately can’t read your mind. The more specific you are with your requests for a given project, the better. Don’t wait until the creative team delivers initial concepts for an ad to share your vision for the campaign. If you have an idea, say it clearly. If you don’t know what you need, tell them that and let them help you get there.

 

5. Proactively set deadlines

 

Two days before a mailer needs to go to print is not the time to tell your creative agency you need to send out a mailer. Create a marketing calendar that clearly establishes all dates and deadlines for creative work. It’s okay to be flexible as needs change, but stick with the plan as much as possible. Build in time for edits, feedback and inevitable snafus.

 

6. Understand your role

 

Yes, the creative marketing agency is the expert, but you have a part to play too. Think of the agency as the engine and your team as the driver. You cast the vision, they help you get there. Trust their expertise and guidance, but maintain ownership of every creative marketing piece that bears your brand and logo. The projects your creative agency produces are just as much your responsibility as theirs.

 

Whether you just partner with a creative agency for occasional projects or your creative agency functions as your marketing department, these six strategies will take you from wasting marketing dollars to maximizing them. And when you do, you’ll be able to go back to your CEO with ROI numbers that prove you know what you’re doing.