Searching for an agency partner can feel like an overwhelming process, especially if you’re not familiar with the services you’re enquiring about. The digital landscape is vast and it can be difficult to know exactly what kind of support you need or want. During my time working on the sales team at Found for the past year I’ve frequently been involved in these conversations, albeit from an agency perspective. Whilst it was important for myself to learn as much as possible about the prospects’ business, objectives and marketing history; it’s just as important for prospects to understand the partner that they’ll be working so closely with.
You want to make sure that you are prepared for that first chat, as you may miss a trick or two that could be crucial to your final selection. To get the best and most relevant information for your business, here are some things to consider when appointing a digital marketing agency.
Before You Start
Firstly you need to have a think about what you actually want. By this I mean you need to be clear on your business objectives and the main reasons you’re looking to onboard an agency partner. This will help you figure out the things that are most paramount to your business which will in turn shed light onto those questions that will really help you make an informed decision.
1. Integrated Services and Growth Opportunities
As I mentioned earlier, the digital marketing world can feel intimidating when you’re new to it all. You may go into these conversations not too clued up on the specifics of SEO, PPC, CRO and so on. That’s absolutely fine as the agencies are the experts and can guide you as to what they think would best suit your business and objectives. This can, for example, be as simple as a teenage clothing brand wanting to grow their awareness being best suited to Social Media channels. This is obviously quite a top level example and it’s normally a much more layered, complex process when deciding which services to focus on within the digital strategy. But, the point is, the agencies are there to help you achieve the best results possible so be sure to take their ideas on board.
There are many different routes you can take when starting your digital marketing journey, but you want to make sure that you’ve got the option to go faster or slower and even change direction. Having an agency that has many different services is great; but having an agency that can seamlessly integrate these services and offer opportunities for growth to achieve your business goals is even better.
2. Operations, Processes and Client Service
When considering the operations and processes of a prospective agency, it can come down to more of a personal preference decision. Chemistry is a key factor which is why a lot of businesses will ask the agency team to visit their offices to pitch or just to have a meeting. Visiting offices hasn’t really been a thing for the past year, so this can also come in the form of a chemistry call; but this can definitely help to see if team members all gel together nicely and give that unique feeling that the partnership is right.
As for the way the agency works, you’d mainly want it to be similar to the way your own business functions. Although having said this, it can be a great way to broaden your horizons and take on new ways of thinking and working efficiently. Most agencies work in similar ways, but the key things you’ll want to look out for are:
Organised planning, in the form of a roadmap perhaps
Weekly/bi-weekly priority calls
Performance reporting (can come in the form of dashboards, or a summary at the end of the month)
Good client service is exactly the same as good customer service. If you go out for a meal, the most important thing is the quality of the food and drink. This can be amplified or damaged by the way in which the meal is served, how polite and friendly the server is, and the atmosphere within the restaurant. It may not be as simple as ‘the customer is always right’ when it comes to a partnership, but the agency should always be willing to listen to your input and vice versa. Both sides will continue to learn from each other’s expertise as the partnership develops.
3. Previous Experience and Results
This next consideration is imperative, and it should hold a lot of weight when making your final choice of agency. It’s also quite self-explanatory, as every business would ideally want to work with a partner that has sector experience and case studies to back up good results.
Any previous work done for a similar client means that they are already knowledgeable of your industry, which is a big advantage during the onboarding process and throughout the rest of the partnership. It means getting the ball rolling quicker, being more efficient and already knowing where opportunity lies. If they also have case studies with fantastic results in your sector, then they have proof that they have done it before; so why can’t they do it again?
There are obviously some other big things you need to weigh up, so previous experience and results don’t mean everything. But just remember:
A recommendation goes a long way.
4. The B Word
If you’ve ever had a sales conversation of any kind, whether that is a smaller purchase of a phone or a much more expensive purchase of a car perhaps; the budget is always in the back of every person’s mind involved.
The budget conversation seems to be quite a taboo subject for some reason. Both sides will seem to put it off, and it’s sometimes viewed as a ‘whoever speaks first loses’ situation. This is most definitely not the case, you just need to look at it from both perspectives. Agencies like to know budgets early on in the process so that when they come to pitch they have the best chance of winning. If they don’t have a budget to work to, then they are shooting in the dark and can easily come in over budget with a larger scope or vice versa.
As the prospect, you’ll want to hear agency prices so you can compare them against each other. For some businesses this is a much more important factor than others, as you could be working with a very limited budget which means you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck. This has been particularly relevant over the last year as the Coronavirus pandemic created a focus on survival for most businesses, and marketing became more of an afterthought.
Just bear in mind, more often than not prices that agency’s will give you initially are just ballpark figures based on averages of previous clients. Whilst they are made as accurate as possible, you won’t get an actual quote until the full partnership has been scoped based on your business goals, digital setup and requirements. This isn’t the same for every agency, but generally they do follow this bespoke pricing system.
Sometimes you may not have a budget confirmed or plainly you just don’t know how much digital marketing services cost, so you don’t know what figure to give the agency. This can be quite a common problem but the best way to go about it is to give the same price range to every agency you’re talking to. This just gives every agency a fair shot at pitching whatever they think is possible within that range, and maybe even giving you tiered options so you can make a preferred selection.
Partnering with an agency is a fantastic way to grow your business in the digital space. They’ll be able to work closely with your business, acting as an extension to your current marketing team, bringing more people power and expertise to the table. If you take all the above considerations into account, you should be able to make an informed decision as to which agency you want to onboard.
If you’re looking for digital marketing support, then we might be the agency for you. Get in touch with someone from our team today to start a conversation.