Sign on the Dotted Line
In an age where the “terms of service” is something people just gloss over, reading and negotiating your contracts with a marketing agency is more important than ever. The contract you sign with a marketing agency will be the most important document for you and the agency to avoid any form of miscommunication.
That’s why it’s essential that you read up on what should be included in your contract so that you’re prepared to strike a deal that fits your needs. As always, we’re here for the people, and today we’re going over the three things you should ensure are included in any digital marketing agency contract you sign.
1) A Detailed Scope of Work
Working with a marketing agency can be a lot of fun, and you can find yourself getting excited about all the possibilities. That being said, you will want to ensure the agency focuses on the core elements that will help drive your business. This is why you want to lay out a detailed scope of work. It’s vital to define key deliverables, the length of the engagement, how the marketing agency reports its progress and results, and if the contract is focused on a particular project, like a website redesign or brand development, a list of major milestones and when payments are expected. We’ve explained more below:
What will the agency be handing over to you? This is the contractual outline of what to expect from the agency. Is it content? Is it a strategy? This is where you define the final product deliverables.
Timeline and milestones
Longer projects can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can be great to tackle a long-term project, but if nobody sets an agreed-upon timeline, the expectations of both parties will not be met. We recommend setting some milestones to define when specific deliverables will be completed. A detailed timeline holds all parties accountable and makes tracking easier. It also puts stoppages in place to prevent a project from going over budget without additional approval. These deadlines can be adjusted if need be during the project but should serve as touch points to ensure the project is completed. Outlining the significant phases of strategizing, testing, implementation, and reporting is essential to a successful project.
One of the most important aspects of a contract is how the agency will report its results. We already have a little blurb about this in our three red flags blog, but this part assumes the agency has a good and open process for reporting its results. Outlining how the reporting will be structured and how often reports will be delivered. These reports ensure you understand what is happening with your project, maintaining open and honest communication with your marketing agency.
2) Legal Terms
We’ll be honest, the legal stuff can be complicated, but it is an essential part of any contract. The hope is that neither you nor the agency ever has to pull any cards involving legal action, but things happen, and it’s better to be prepared. The legal terms are where you outline things like the handling of private, sensitive information, who maintains ownership of the work throughout the project and after, and what happens if any contract terms are breached.
A confidentiality agreement between the two parties regulates the treatment of specified private information. It’s vital to review what information is confidential about your business with the marketing agency.
Ownership of Property and Materials
This section protects your business as it outlines who retains ownership of all deliverables and output produced by the agency at the end of the engagement. It clarifies ownership work such as ads, copy, creative, posts, and data, as well as accounts created by the marketing agency.
Once you’ve paid for the work, you should be the owner of the final product. At DSM, once our clients have paid, they own the product and can do what they want with it. This ownership can be vital if you ever change marketing agencies. Your ownership of the data, work, and accounts ensure a smooth transition from one agency to the next.
Breach of Contract
Breach of contract is precisely what it sounds like. While it is something you will hopefully never have to experience, it is imperative to include details about what constitutes a breach of contract and the repercussions of a breach. A breach of contract occurs when one of the parties in the agreement does not hold up their end of the deal. This could be a client not paying or an agency not doing all of the work that was agreed upon. A solid breach of contract section will outline possible repercussions for breaching the contract, legal options that each party can pursue if needed, and the process for initiating these options.
3) Additional Work Request Clause
There’s only so many ways we can say that last part. Brand guidelines are incredibly important, especially for businesses looking to scale and build a following in today’s incredibly fast paced, visual-based world. Do you absolutely need brand guidelines? If you want to go back to the drawing board each time you want to make a new piece of content, then technically… no. But, if you value saving time and money, then you’ll want a set.
Contracts are the foundation of a strong relationship between your business and a marketing agency. They provide legal terms to keep projects on track, on time, and on budget. While these are important elements, there’s much more to a marketing agency contract than just the Scope of Work, Legal Terms, and Additional Work Request Clause. Some other elements required in a marketing agency contract are compensation requirements, contract length, relationship outline and more. It can be a lengthy negotiation process, but should something go wrong, you’ll be glad you took the time to review everything.