We often meet with prospective clients to discuss their marketing goals and needs, and to help assess if we are a good fit. The marketing industry moves fast and we see marketing leaders struggling to keep up and make confident decisions as to who to invest in for help. To thrive in this fast-changing economy, you need partners that can help you grow and evolve, and even better, who don’t require ramp-up time.

Here’s one major reason to reassess your stable of marketing collaborators — information, by way of content, is exploding. There is more information being disseminated than ever before. And that means the type of information you are sharing to create interactions and impressions with your customers is critical. The time is now to have strategic conversations with marketing experts who can help you level-up your business.

In a services-based business, so much value is driven by the people doing the work, the people who you will be engaging with and interacting with. Marketing communications is a very personalized and very creative product, and each agency is unique in how they deliver. That uniqueness is often defined by the team you are working with and the experience they bring.

Where TLF differentiates is in being industry experts.

There are thousands of agencies who do marketing and do it well. Our commitment to staying on top of the insurance industry is unique. Everyone on our team comes from an insurance marketing background, and each team member brings at least 15 years of experience, many with much more experience than that.

Next let’s talk agility.

Hiring an agency like ours offers a unique advantage because we have teams with expertise in each area of marketing. In our case that means strategists, digital marketing experts, video marketing experts and top creative people who design and write creative marketing campaigns for insurance companies every day. This allows you access to specialized marketers without having to hire an entire team yourself.

Because we know the industry, we can focus quickly, be insightful, iterate fast, and plan and respond quickly. Agile marketing can be your competitive advantage.

Collaborating versus working in a silo

How important is collaboration? It is the title of this article after all. Here’s one example of a new marketing model we fully support. After hiring three agencies this summer, Ally Financial summoned new partners into its corporate office in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, about 50 employees from various agencies: Anomaly, R/GA and MediaCom, had a weeklong immersion session. The agenda included interactions with Ally’s CEO as well as business leaders overseeing human resources, the call center and corporate social responsibility. “We wanted them to understand our culture. You’re in a bit of a hot seat as a CMO and I wanted partners I can scheme the business with, not just go to make great ads,” says Andrea Brimmer Ally’s CMO and PR officer.

More and more, leaders a realizing that marketing is the key to solving real business problems, including, in the case of Ally, creating tools that actually help customers effectively save more money.

We act as an extension to your internal team

Just like the example of Ally, a successful agency partnership is defined by collaboration. During your conversations with any prospective agency, you should get the feeling that they’re extremely considerate of the talent that you and your internal team possess.  Make sure any agency you talk to takes the time to have multiple phone calls with you, even offering to involve the team members you’ll be working with in an on-site workshop to help you and the leadership team understand exactly what you are trying to accomplish. Whether you work with the agency or not, you should still feel truly “helped” rather than just “sold.”

Many companies are now holding agency assemblies, daylong meetings that include all of its agencies and key leaders from across the company including areas that wouldn’t usually be involved like corporate affairs and finance. On a smaller scale, it means involving your agency partners in key planning meetings even if there isn’t a deliverable defined. Allowing an agency access to strategic planning will result in more thoughtful and insightful input … a fresh perspective.

The bottom line: Open the doors and expand the conversation to have more successful agency partnerships.

Delivering value from Day 1

Marketers are now tasked with solving problems beyond the scope of traditional marketing and they must commit to delivering hard metrics including sales and profitability. Marketing chiefs must grow the business or they are out. Its becoming black and white for agencies too; either you are playing a role in this pursuit or you are not.

This means agencies need to live in the same foxhole as clients. If your metrics are for example, the number of years you retain a customer, or dollar value of their policy(ies), that is something important for an agency partner to know. Category-specific metrics make sure we are all speaking the same language and focusing on the right goals.

Of course, there’s a lot to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a marketing agency. The agency model allows you to get a team of expert marketers at your disposal. Work with an agency who is interested in knowing what is most important to you, asks the right questions and doesn’t just deliver an RFP filled with case studies and work samples. When you work with an agency who gets it, and understands the importance of collaboration and a true working partnership, they can deliver value many times over.