When looking for the right agency partner, it isn’t about choosing the “best” agency. It’s about finding the right fit for both organizations. Success with an agency isn’t reliant on size or proximity – it’s about the results that can come from a lasting relationship. Since I’ve worked on both sides of the client/agency fence, I thought I would impart some of my knowledge that I’ve learned throughout the years when selecting the right agency partner.
Here are some questions to ask prospective agencies to help you with your search.
1. What does their history say about them?
While an agency’s background isn’t everything, it says a lot about who they are, what they do, and how well they do it. Find out as much as you can before/while you’re talking to them. Look at their case studies and client list. How do they solve tough marketing challenges? Creativity is expected, but how do those creative pieces perform in the market?
2. What type of work will you need?
Will you need to rebrand or do you need an agency that can take a great brand and deliver new tactics to support the brand? Do you need to launch a full-blown campaign or do you need something smaller in scope? Executing a single tactic is different than executing lots of tactics across multiple mediums.
3. How well do they know your industry?
An agency with prior experience in your field could simplify your life (you don’t have to hold their hand) but they also might think they already have you figured out. Evaluate their client list. Even if they don’t have prior experience in your field, clients in a variety of other industries may indicate their ability to swiftly ramp up knowledge, and notable clients indicate a level of competence and confidence.
4. What is their agency culture like?
Whether they are a work hard, play hard crew or strictly 9 to 5-ers – you’ll be able to feel it in their walk and talk. Make an office visit, if you can. Do they seem like a fit in terms of their communication style and approach? As in any relationship, you don’t have to be a perfect match, different but complementary works too!
5. How long is the agency’s average client relationship?
A shorter time period tends to indicate a more transactional, project-oriented type of arrangement. A longer time period means more work involved but a deeper relationship. Neither is right or wrong, it’s all about what both parties want. Further, just because an agency does a lot of short-term work it doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for long-term partners, and vice versa. The average client/agency relationship? Around 3 years.
6. What do other clients say about them?
Tune in to what others have to say about an agency and look for red flags (which should probably be taken with a grain of salt). And even if there (hopefully) aren’t any, you’ll still find out how other clients work with them and whether it seems like the way you’d like to work with them as well.
7. What is the agency’s “style”?
Just like people, every agency has it’s own look, feel, and way of doing things. Whether it’s their creative or strategic style it’ll make a big impact on the marketing tactics they create for you. Do they excel at pushing boundaries and taking risks? Or are they slower to jump on trends, opting for a tried-and-true approach? There’s no right answer here, it’s about finding the right fit for you.
These aren’t the only questions out there, make sure and ask everyone you have! But they’ll absolutely help start you off as you search for an ad agency partner. Use these questions to gather knowledge and to gauge their passion for you and your company. Happy Hunting!