Jul 17, 2018
Ever go through a grueling RFP process only to select an agency that didn’t meet your expectations? You’re a few months in and find yourself complaining about how bad your agency is, wishing you had the “swipe left” Tinder option from the get-go? You’re not alone. In fact, research shows that there’s been a steady decline in the length of agency/client relationships now with the majority lasting less than 3 years.
Finding the right agency that can scale with your business needs is no easy task. After going through the process with hundreds of brands, we’ve identified these six criteria to consider before signing on the dotted line.
First and foremost, ensure that you’re meeting the team you’ll be working with daily. As you’d expect, many agencies leverage senior executives to pitch and secure new business. Unfortunately however, these people rarely get involved in the day-to-day, unless there’s an issue. Make sure you read between the lines carefully on this and press to meet the team members you’ll be working with the most.
If you want a hands on agency and prefer to meet in person on a regular basis, it’s helpful to have a partner close by. Communication is the key to every great relationship, and nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting especially when working through core program deliverables. Regular lunches or dinners aren’t a requirement, but if you can find an agency partner whose company you enjoy enough to spend time with beyond working hours, it’s probably a good thing.
Your Brand Needs + Agency Alignment
Make sure to have clearly defined needs and evaluate your agencies based on their capabilities and alignment with your needs. The lines between traditional, digital, PR and social continue to blur. Agencies can misrepresent their skill sets or over promise to match a client’s needs, and in turn, fall flat. If you’re looking to drive lead generation through a digital media campaign, the agencies you’re talking with should share relevant case studies that prove they have the disciplines internally to meet your desired goals.
Clear Scope + Budget Expectations
All too often there’s a disconnect between what is budgeted and what the agency actually believes it will take to deliver. Change orders and incremental fees are sometimes necessary, but can often take their toll on the relationship. Open and honest budget conversations should be one of the first things brands and agencies discuss to make sure the teams are aligned before going into deeper evaluation.
Want to eventually elevate to sophisticated segmentation and personalized marketing? Make sure your agency and its various departments can meet your current and future levels of marketing maturity, to help your business grow and evolve. On the other end of the spectrum, if you haven’t ever invested in digital or aren’t using sophisticated data to inform your strategy, maybe you don’t need to bring in any agency with a data science practice just yet.
Market Segment / Product Specific Experience
Working in a niche industry can make it tough to find a partner that has experience marketing similar products or services. For example, understanding the complexities of the pharmaceutical business can have a huge impact on the strategy and creative when marketing in that industry. This selection criteria could be argued either way. Lack of industry experience may help to push your creative outside the boundaries of what’s become common in your industry, but it can also present a learning curve if your agency doesn’t have knowledge of your core constituents and target audiences. If the experience is lacking, evaluate the agency based on passion for the product or service taking into account adjacent experience that might be relevant to your market.
Want to discuss your specific brand marketing needs? Please don’t hesitate to reach out.