Choosing the right agency for your business’s needs can be a daunting prospect. After all, do you need PR, digital marketing, SEO or an integrated approach?
Working with the right partner is key when it comes to achieving your business ambitions, so it is important that you spend the time understanding exactly what you want from a third party and researching the best fit for your business.
To help you with the process, we’ve put together our top tips when it comes to selecting the agency partner that is right for you.
What are your business goals?
This is crucial. Without knowing what you are trying to achieve, it makes it difficult to develop a strategy that can be measured. “Just wanting to grow your business” or “general brand awareness” doesn’t give a tangible metric to measure. An agency can help grow your business, but they need to understand what growth looks like to you so that the right strategy can be developed and refined as the activity gets underway. Get clear on your goals and enable your agency to help you achieve them.
What type of services do you require?
If you’re new to outsourcing marketing support, it might be difficult for you to pinpoint which specific strategies will be best for your business. Speak with professionals in marketing niches such as PR, SEO and digital marketing to help you understand how the different tactics might benefit your organisation. They should be able to share examples of work they have undertaken for similar clients across a range of different marketing channels and the results achieved, which will help you to identify the best strategy and comms platforms for your business.
A great agency will also be able to show you how their activity impacts other areas of your marketing. Aside from reporting solely on PR coverage, for example, can your agency demonstrate how online coverage has improved your search engine optimisation? Can they demonstrate that backlinks have generated referral traffic to your website and has this converted to enquiries or sales?
Is conflict of interest a concern?
We understand that some businesses gain reassurance from working with agencies who have experience or existing clients in their sector, but on the other hand, will it be an issue if the key people you will be working with are working to achieve the same goals for a competitor?
In our case, we generally don’t work with conflicting businesses, but where this might come up, we will always take a ‘Chinese walls’ approach, ensuring that it is not the same account team working to achieve the same goals for conflicting businesses.
But it is important to remember, just because an agency hasn’t worked in your sector doesn’t mean they can’t achieve results for you. Be open to hearing a different perspective – if an agency has a wealth of clients in one particular sector, you may run the risk of creativity fatigue, which could hinder your account from reaching its full potential.
What are their processes?
How will they start the relationship? What is their process for gaining an understanding of your business and the results you are looking to achieve? How often will they communicate with you and what tools will they use to do so? How often can you expect to receive reports and a review of the strategy implemented? These are all key things to ask at the outset that should reassure you that you will get the support and results you are hoping to achieve.
It is important to be upfront with any third-party partners about your preferred ways of working and how best they can communicate results and updates and deliverables, and the best way to communicate results outside of the marketing department – this can vastly differ from client to client so this is key to getting the working relationship off to a great start.
How will success be measured?
Do you have KPIs you wish to measure? If not, can the agency help you define them? Your agency should be asking you for access to Google Analytics as a bare minimum so performance across different tactics can be measured. A great agency will go to the lengths of getting access to Google Search Console too, which will help them monitor more results and enhance performance, especially if website visibility is a key issue.
Insights from your end are also extremely helpful too. What do your monthly traffic figures or revenue look like? This insight allows your agency partner to review against the performance figures and calculate things like cost per acquisition (CPA), giving your better insights into how the activity is performing.
Are you willing to work hard too?
One of the main issues when it comes to account failure is a lack of insight and communication at the client level. You are an expert in your field, and we are there to help amplify that, but to do so we need to gain insights from you to ensure consistency. Make yourself available for meetings and be open to regular information sharing, as the more knowledge your agency gains from you, the more proactive they can be with their recommendations and results will be achieved much faster.
How will they ensure they are up to speed with the latest tactics?
The marketing industry is fast-moving and if you want to keep ahead of the competition it’s crucial that the team you have in place are committed to ongoing professional development. We invest heavily in training for our colleagues with many going through industry qualifications. Along with this we actively host internal knowledge exchange sessions, attend industry conferences and undertake skills training on the tools we use on a daily basis.
who will be working on your account?
Have you been introduced to your account team? Does the agency you work with outsource their work? What processes have they got in place for protecting your IP and confidentiality? In our opinion, knowing everyone who will be working on your business is crucial when it comes to achieving your desired results.
Do you vibe?
Getting great results is definitely amplified when the working relationship is enjoyable all round. It’s important that you can connect with your agency and your assigned account team at a personal level, as well as professional.
You will (or should) spend a lot of time engaging with your agency, so it is key that they feel like an extension of your team. Are they willing to spend time in your office getting to know you and key people within your business? If so, you’re on to a winner.
Do they have the same values as you?
Finally, choosing an agency that has the same values, purposes, and to some extent, objectives is another key factor for a successful working relationship. Ensuring you have similar working styles, have the same passion for improving the business ecosystem in your region or have similar values for what you look for in staff members are all key questions that you should be asking when it comes to the final decision on the best marketing agency for you.