In a previous blog post we talked about how to choose a marketing agency in terms of getting the best fit for you business. We talked about finding an agency with experience in your sector, someone that truly understands your objectives and business challenges, but what about the actual process of selecting an agency? In this blog we will follow the steps involved to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Do your research
It’s worth taking the time here to do some research. A simple Google search will throw up a list of potential candidates but don’t just pick the top three on the list. How well they rank will give you an indication of how well they manage their own marketing, but will they truly understand your business? Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations, use social media to post a request for suggestions. Half the suggestions will come from agencies promoting themselves – great, these ones are on the ball and the other half will generally come from clients that have had good experiences – great, already pre-qualified. But don’t stop there; really dig deep, look at their social media and websites. Look at case studies and testimonials, the size and experience of their team. What is your gut reaction, do you feel a synergy? Narrow down your list, making sure the services they offer are in line with your needs.
Make your initial contact with your shortlisted agencies. We would suggest limiting it to 3 maximum. Any more than that will be difficult to compare and also these things take time, the agencies will want to talk to you in depth, getting background information and an understanding of your objectives. Make sure you can commit to the time they need to create a pitch. Compare how well they responded to your initial inquiry. Did you feel valued? Did they suggest a meeting to find out more? Use that initial meeting to see if there is any chemistry between you, are these people you like? Do you think you and your team will be able to work with them?
Decide on the format of the pitch that you want. Some agencies will have highly polished presentations, some will be less formal but make sure you ask for the kind of pitch you want. Making this clear at the onset will mean each agency will present in the same way making it much easier to compare. In our experience the presentation style pitch doesn’t give the client as many opportunities to ask the sorts of questions they want. It can be a little one-sided and although the agency is essentially coming in to show you what they can do for you, it should still be a very two-sided experience. See how they handle your questions on the fly, rather than the security blanket of PowerPoint.
Once the agencies have all had the opportunity to pitch or submit their proposals, if there is an agency you particularly like but there is something in the proposal you are not happy with don’t be afraid to ask them what they can do to change it. They may not want to halve their costs but there may be some room for improvement – especially if you are willing to commit to something long term. If they have made suggestions you disagree with, challenge them. Getting them to explain their solutions and decisions will be a great opportunity to see how well they know their stuff.
Choosing your marketing agency
Sometimes there will be clear winners (or losers) and you can narrow down quite easily. However, where it’s not so clear make a list of criteria of things important to you i.e. experience, cost, quality of pitch, professionalism, testimonials etc. Rank in terms of importance to you and score each agency against them. If that still doesn’t show a clear winner, just go with your gut feeling, your intuition is often the best judge.
If you would like some assistance with your marketing please do get in touch.