Choosing the right marketing agency to work with is not only a financial commitment, but also a leap of faith. It is a partnership and like any good relationship it has to work for both sides. It is therefore vital you are a good fit for each other. I’ve worked in and run marketing agencies for over 20 years now, and have seen agency/client relationships both blossom and die a horrible death. Here are a few important steps you can take to help avoid choosing the wrong marketing agency.
1. Decide whether you like them as people
This may sound a bit woolly but trust me, this is the most important step of all. You are going to be spending a lot of time with these agency folk, and quite simply you have to be able to get on with them. You also need to be confident they will get on with your team too, as there is nothing worse for either party than complaints coming in from your team members. Trust your gut feeling on this – it is rarely wrong. Never ever choose an agency where you have no rapport. Working with an agency should be an enjoyable experience.
2. Meet with the wider team
During the digital agency selection experience, you are likely to have met the big hitters: the agency owners, the ones who are great on their feet and can give the best impression of the agency. However I would recommend asking to chat with a few other members of the team, in particular, your potential account manager. This person will be your day-to-day contact and will offer a true representation of what your experience will be like working with this agency.
3. Decide whether they’re a good fit
Ultimately an agency is three things: its overall marketing approach, its culture and a collection of talented people. You need each of these three things to fit with your organisation and what you are looking to achieve as a business. For instance, if you are a B2B company but most of your agency’s case studies are B2C, you’ll have to think really carefully about the fit, no matter how much you like them. If you work in a very complex industry with many regulations, such as pharmaceuticals, the learning curve is likely to be too steep for them to hit the ground running. Industry experience isn’t everything, and sometimes an agency without sector-specific knowledge can bring something fresh, but it has to be a serious consideration.
4. Work out if these people will be THE people
It’s very possible that you may never see ‘the pitchers' again. They’ve told a great story, and you have bought into them, but it is important to ask this simple question: will any of you actually work on my account? If the answer is no, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose this agency, but it makes it even more important that you meet the wider team, to ensure that the ethos and approach of the pitch has filtered down to all staff working on your account.
5. Make sure they are not a builder with a leaking roof
Agencies are great at making claims, like award-winning and 5-star reviews, but it is important that they can show tangible results they have achieved for other clients, particularly those relevant to your business. These would be things like improvement in sales, leads generated and increased website visits. Know what you want your agency to achieve for your business and ask to see examples of their success in this field. Never engage with the ‘builder with a leaking roof.’ In other words, if you are looking for an agency specifically for SEO but you can’t find them via a Google search, then please avoid. If they are offering LinkedIn training but get no engagement on their posts, then they are probably not the right choice.
6. Find out what their clients say
Read the testimonials on your agency’s website and their Google reviews, and ask to speak to at least two of their clients. This can be a tricky one. After all, what agency is going to publish a poor testimonial on their website, or give you the email address of an unhappy client? However you need to ask the right questions and also read between the lines. Within testimonials and when talking to clients, listen for the passion in their voice and true advocacy in their words. If you get to speak to their clients, ask about the results they have achieved and how the agency contributed towards that.
And after all this, you might still get it wrong, but at least you did your homework. You never know what an agency is truly like until you work with them but by following this advice, you can give yourself a fighting chance.
Want to work with a marketing agency who will truly get your business? Book a meeting with the FINALLY team today.