Whether you’re hiring a marketing agency for the first time or simply transferring marketing responsibilities to their new and rightful owner, this week’s post takes a look at several best practices for documenting procedures and gathering the appropriate intel needed for a seamless handoff.

While you may have some lead time to prepare, document every process and outline all procedures and plans, we’re not always afforded the luxury of time. We’ve worked with clients who have needed us to jump in right away and take over projects after internal resources left, and for folks who had been executing marketing tasks themselves but decided it was time to hand the keys over to professionals. Whatever timeline you’re working with, we’ve got the tips for how to accelerate the agency onboarding without any half measures.

Ensuring an Understanding of the Landscape

First, let’s consider the landscape for both the company and the market. If you’re hiring an agency for the first time, the agency folks dedicated to the account will need some time to wrap their arms around the business, get to know the internal stakeholders and necessary points of contact, and develop a strong understanding of what you’re hoping to achieve so you can create some mutually agreed upon marketing goals.

They’ll also want to document – or research, if needed – the following components to your current marketing landscape:

  • Target market and ideal client profile
  • Differentiators
  • Competitors
  • People, culture and values
  • Brand
  • Marketing channels that are in progress or have been tried in the past along with outcomes

If there was someone internally handling marketing, what was the internal resource responsible for producing by way of leads, demand, awareness, revenue? The incoming team will certainly need an understanding of goals and expectations of the work and desired outcomes. We’ve found that if time is slim, scheduling a one or (ideally) two-day session to cover these items and create some meaningful takeaways and action plans can help bring the agency up to speed in crash-course fashion.

Tools and Assets

Next, it’s important to plan for the transition of access to marketing tools and assets. Assuming the agency is going to take over marketing initiatives and projects already in flight, the agency folks are going to need access to marketing tools like the website, HubSpot, and Google Analytics, as well as to vendor contacts like printers, Salesforce support and public relations contacts.

It’s also important that if the email associated with any of these accounts is connected to a marketing manager leaving, that either a new account is created, or that email continues to forward to an active email account that the new resource can oversee going forward.

While your list of credentials and assets will be unique, below is a list of the types of items to begin gathering:

  • Website credentials: Content Management System admin and hosting panel/FTP
  • Social Media Accounts: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat
  • Marketing Automation Software: Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot
  • Contact databases: Constant Contact, CRMs like Salesforce, Insightly, etc.
  • Google Analytics
  • Brand standards and usage guidelines: fonts, logos, image library
  • Bing advertising platform
  • Webmaster Tools
  • Additional analytics tools: Clicky, MET, Hosted Numbers
  • Vendor relationships: Name and contact information for vendors like printers, tradeshow booth builders, media contacts

If the company does any direct advertising such as billboards, radio or magazines, you’ll often have an account executive that oversees your relationship. Make sure to document vendor reps’ contact information and any previously signed contracts.

Process and Procedures

Finally, the transition plan needs to cover logistics like process and procedures. You’ll need (and want) procedures to minimize time going back and forth for revisions, and to make sure all of your initiatives stay on schedule.

You can apply these considerations to all of your marketing activities. Here are some common ones:

  • For content, what is the process for developing, approving, publishing and sharing?
  • What is the frequency of content creation, and are there deadlines for drafts? We recommend not only documenting this, but creating a shared calendar to view draft and posting dates.
  • Budget approval
  • Budget approval over $X amount
  • Results and reporting review meetings. Who will be in charge reporting sales numbers back to make sure goals are being met?
  • Usage guidelines and brand standards. For instance, does the company have a black and white version of the logo if one is needed for an advertisement?

For all clients, we recommend a weekly five to ten-minute huddle call discussing these tactical items, and a standing monthly meetings to cover big picture items like strategy, results, and upcoming or special projects.

Once you establish process and procedures and see marketing initiatives take flight, you’ll likely fall into a groove that makes sense for your marketing plan, team and schedule.

Happy onboarding!