Welcome to Part II of our Client/Agency Relationship series. We’ve already covered how to decide if you need an agency. Now let’s talk about how to choose the right agency for you.
It’s as simple as asking questions near and dear to your heart that you learned in grammar school. Ready?
Choosing an agency is a little like choosing a friend. You will be spending a lot of time with your contact(s) at the agency. They should serve as an extension of your marketing team, which means you need to like them. You need to respect them. And you need enjoy working with them.
The right agency will take the time to get to know you – both from a business perspective to understand what you’re trying to accomplish and a personal perspective to get to know you better and build trust – the basis of any good working relationship.
After determining you have a rapport with your prospective agency, the next question to ask is: What marketing disciplines do you offer? Many agencies specialize in only one thing. For example, you may talk to a social media agency or a digital agency. And, if this is all you’ll need in the foreseeable future, this may be fine for your needs. But, more often than not, marketing needs continue to grow as your business does. And this means that eventually, you’ll need more than just that one discipline.
It’s often better to partner with an agency that has capabilities in all aspects of marketing from web development, video and social to PR, media and content marketing to overarching strategic consulting about your entire marketing program. This enables you to take advantage of all disciplines when you need them without having to change agencies or contract with multiple agencies.
This may be as simple as where the agency is located – if it’s important for you to have your agency near you. Although in today’s age of easy communication through technology, this isn’t necessarily a huge factor.
More importantly, the ‘where’ should apply to whether or not the agency has expertise in your specific industry. Do they have experience targeting your prospects and do they understand your value chain? Or, will you need to spend time educating them to get them up to speed before they can even begin helping you with your marketing?
You’ll notice that not one of these questions asks specifically about cost. While budget is certainly an important factor, any agency worth their salt will work with you to fit your budget; so this should essentially be a non-issue. You simply need to decide what percentage of your monthly budget is the right amount to achieve your marketing objectives.
Many agencies will quote a low hourly cost to entice you and try to force a ‘spreadsheet’ comparison with the other agencies you’re considering. The more important question to ask is: How quickly and effectively do you complete your projects?
Just because an agency says they charge a low hourly rate, doesn’t mean they won’t drag out the work to actually make the cost more than an agency who has a higher hourly rate.
And…the best agencies don’t talk in hourly rates at all; they talk about what your monthly budget should be and then manage to that cost to achieve your goals.
This is a question for you – and one that will drive how you want to work with your marketing agency: Why are you interested in working with an agency? Are you in need of a one-off project, like updating your website, or are you looking for broad-spectrum help for more than one marketing need?
This will help your agency determine how they respond to your request, and offer recommendations for the best course of action for you and your business to achieve those goals. The right agency will ask lots of questions to better understand what it is you’re trying to achieve – and probe to ensure you’ve thought through all your potential needs.
Once you’ve addressed the who, what, where, when and why, it’s time to turn to the ‘how’: How will the agency work with you? What is their onboarding process? Will there be an in-depth discovery session to ensure they understand your company’s style, tone, brand and personality? Who will be your primary contact – or will you have to work with multiple people?
How will the agency keep you informed and up-to-speed on the projects they’re working on? How will they track key performance indicators (KPIs)? These are all important factors to consider as they directly impact how you and your team will interact with them, be informed of progress and know if you’ve accomplished your goals.
Asking these six questions of each of your prospective agencies will help you ultimately choose the right one for you. And then the question becomes: How do you maintain your agency mojo to keep the relationship on track?
Find out in our next post.
Interested in putting us to the test? We’re ready to chat. Get in touch now.