GO! Network members Team Eleven, a specialist business growth agency, sit down with their client PDI International, to discuss the key to mutual success and reflect on their brand-agency relationship so far.

This interview includes answers from Nina Smith, Marketing Manager at PDI International, and Sophie Gibson, Founder and Client Partner at Team Eleven.

PDI International came to GO! looking for an agency that could redevelop their toolkits, had relevant experience, and were going to act as a trusted partner going forward. This week, we spoke to Nina and Sophie of PDI and Team Eleven respectively about their requirements, fulfilling the brief, and what made their partnership the right choice.

GO!: What kicked off the requirement for an agency?

Nina, PDI International: As the business went through a rebrand (corporate and product), we needed an agency who could develop a brand new sales toolkit which represented our new brand. 

Whilst I have worked with several agencies in the past, I wanted to go through this process to ensure that we chose an agency which was suitable for this specific project.  In addition, I wanted to involve the key stakeholders as part of this process as it was important given that they would also be working closely with the agency and so it was important that they offered their opinions and could influence the decision too instead of imposing an agency onto them.  

GO!: What was the brief, and what were your first thoughts about the requirement?

Nina, PDI International: Develop a brand-new sales and marketing toolkit for the Healthcare division of our business.

"Right from the get go, PDI felt like the perfect Client for us as an Agency. Collaborative, friendly, open for discussion / challenge, we knew immediately that they were looking for a long-term partner to their business and an agency they could trust to deliver. We’ve all collectively really enjoyed working with them thus far. They’re also a lovely bunch of people which helps enormously!" - Sophie, Team Eleven

GO!: What was important about winning this project?

Nina, PDI International: They listened to our requirements to the extent that they went the extra mile and carried out some initial market research for us which showed they were invested in us from the outset.

They also brought the account manager who would be looking after us into one of the later calls which gave us further reassurance that they would deliver on their promise and also gave us the opportunity to see if would connect (which we did!).  They were very professional throughout and had planned very well the structure of each call.   

Sophie, Team Eleven: Communication and proactivity. Despite the fact that this was a project based brief, the investment in time, effort and quality has never been compromised and we’ve treated PDI exactly the same way we would a £500k+ retained piece of business.

The fact that two of the three partners were involved from the get go and we introduced them early on to their day to day AM has meant that they’ve trusted us throughout the journey. We aren’t a faceless agency and we’re invested in their business and doing the right thing by it.

GO!: What do you think is the key to a brand-agency relationship?

Nina, PDI International: Communication! T11 have always managed my expectations very well as they have communicated when we can expect things and successfully fulfilled those timescales. 

Also, honesty and transparency  – because of the relationship we have established, I feel comfortable feeding back on things which haven’t quite hit the mark first time round (on occasion this is due to us not briefing correctly) and they have always taken it really well and come back with something which hits the mark.  

Sophie, Team Eleven:  Working on the business as if it were our business. We’re team players and I think the Client have seen that.

Read: Mutual Success - The Best of Brand/Agency Relationships

GO!: What have been some of the key challenges you have faced together, and how did you overcome them?

Nina, PDI International: There have been a couple of incidents where T11 didn’t quite hit the mark first time round.

This was overcome by being honest and arranging an online call to go through our brief in better detail as sometimes we can assume that they know exactly what we are after but we have to remember this relationship is still very new, we are getting used to each other, the company, its products and positioning which ordinarily would take months.

In our case, T11 have had to develop a complete toolkit in 8 weeks so it is completely understandable that they were not going to get our requests right 100% all of the time!

Sophie, Team Eleven:  As Nina mentioned, just some clarification needed during the briefing process, but this was addressed quite easily by having discussions with the right members of the team at the right time.

And we’re also very happy to be challenged in our proposals, or indeed to get feedback on amends. The reality is that this is a new client which we are learning the inner workings of, so as far as teething problems go, they were very minimal indeed.

Read: Mutual Success - Impression and Abigail Ahern

GO!: What do you like most about working with this agency?

Nina, PDI International: The relationship we have established and delivering on promise in terms of quality of work, meeting deadlines and within budget). They are like an extension of our family!    

GO!: What's the most valuable part of working on this project with the brand?

Sophie, Team Eleven: As an initial project, it’s been incredibly informative about their business, its offering and its point of difference. We couldn’t have started in a better place really.

The GO! Network work regularly with brands to help them benchmark existing agency performance, or connect them to new agency partners. If you're looking for advice or support on building agency relationships, put some time in with us here.

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