What It’s Like To Work With An Agency

Overwhelmed by the complexity of rebranding your organization? Don’t have the resources to build a marketing team or interested in the value of an external perspective? Not quite sure how to increase engagement through your marketing and creative? These are just a few reasons why organizations like associations, nonprofits, and foundations hire an agency like us, Beyond Definition.

So when you’re thinking about bringing an agency on board, here are a couple of things your organization should know about what it’s like to work with one.

First Impressions

As a prospective client, an agency may seem attractive, but it’s important to get to the core of their mission, values, and process to determine if they’re the right fit for your needs.

It’s helpful to know upfront what kind of work the agency prefers. For example, at Beyond Definition, we focus on contracts with clients where we can build relationships, so we’re able to understand where they’re headed and their goals beyond one project. The one-off job doesn’t allow us to maximize your investment and to tap into other initiatives to further your mission.

Here are some helpful questions to ask while you’re still in the early introductory stages of getting to know your potential agency partner:

  • What does the agency’s process entail?
  • What does a typical timeline look like for this type of project?
  • Will we as a client have several point-of-contacts or just one primary person?
  • What amount of time is required of clients through the engagement?
  • What does the agency need from us as a client to begin work?
  • How will we as a client provide feedback to work that’s delivered?

These questions serve as a screening conversation if you will, and will determine whether or not the particular agency is a good fit for your organization and its specific needs. Just because one agency may not have what you’re looking for, there are agencies of various different sizes, styles, and approaches – one of them is bound to match what you envision.


Once you scratch the surface with some bigger picture questions, it’s important to follow-up with the more specific questions that are specific to the engagement.

We’ve chalked up some frequently asked questions and then provided how we would answer these questions. (Again, agency to agency these answers may vary.)

Q: What is the difference between a retainer and project-based client relationship?

A: A retainer is an agreement between the client and the agency for a specific amount of time (for example, one year) and the client pays a fixed rate for a certain number of hours of agency work within that time frame. Conversely, project-based relationships are when the agency charges the client per project with the price usually coming from a fixed number of hours required to complete the deliverables within the project.

A retainer-based relationship is definitely more suitable when the client would like more freedom to be involved with the deliverables, and isn’t constrained to a specific number of edits for each project. Especially if you have several projects you’d like the agency to help on, the retainer-based model is the most suitable for those needs.

It also allows the agency to always be engaged in thinking about the client.  A retainer gives the agency the freedom to be a strategic partner to an organization and not just execution.

Q: How will the agency get to know our organization?

A: At Beyond Definition, every client is assigned a project manager and an account executive. From there, the AE, who is the client’s main point-of-contact (POC),  schedules a kick-off with the key players at the client’s organization to introduce the team at the agency.

The purpose of the kick-off is mainly to humanize the process and give clients the names of the people working on the account. While you may not meet every person working on your website, campaign, or brand, it is helpful to know their names and know they are real people — this is an important part of cultivating a relationship with the agency you’ve selected.

Weekly, biweekly, or monthly check-in calls will be scheduled based on the project scope, and this will be a chance for all team members to touch base with the client on current deliverables, feedback, or suggestions they have moving forward.

Q: How do I reach my designated AE on a day-to-day basis if I have questions?

A: First and foremost, your AE is your go-to for any and all questions you have and they’re ready to hop on the phone, just say the word! At our agency, we have a hub that keeps all client conversations, upcoming deadlines, and shared documents and files in one central location. This project management platform marries the functions of email with the beauty of a shared calendar and the necessity of a file-sharing account — it’s essential to us.

Q: What happens when there’s a disagreement between the agency and the client? How is this handled?

A: There comes a time in any project, no matter how good the agency or client is, where a challenge is presented. While we as an agency do our best to be proactive to ensure these mishaps don’t happen, sometimes they do.

At our agency, we handle harder conversations over the phone or in-person whenever possible to discuss and come to a mutual agreement on how to problem-solve and move forward. Here, it is never a right or wrong, it’s about how we can work together as a team to meet on an agreed-upon goal.

Q: Sometimes things are delayed due to reasons out of our control, are changes in the proposed schedule possible?

A: Deadlines are pushed, it happens. While it is not a best practice to miss a deadline on either the client or agency side, it does happen because well, life happens. Schedules are important but they are not the end all be all.

That being said, we work with the client to get back on track in the event this happens. We are flexible and work with our clients to ensure reasonable timelines are made. However, we also understand the urgency of our industry — we’re agile when things get unpredictable.

Next Steps

We hope to have answered some of your general wonderings of what it’s like to work with an agency like ours. When both parties are collaborative, it’s an enjoyable process that betters both the client and the agency, a win-win.

Beyond Definition is the agency made for mission- and member-driven organizations. From discovery and diagnostics, to strategy development, to multi-channel implementation, we help associations, foundations, and more to move their missions forward. Let’s go beyond together.

Interested in working together? Send a note to

Jenna Lally's headshot

Jenna Lally

As Marketing Strategist, Jenna crafts customized digital marketing strategies and cross-channel content to connect with diverse audiences.

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