Each company has its own set of marketing and branding challenges that they face within their space and vertical. Some brands seem to be on top of everything and are killing it at everything that they do. For the rest of the world, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Most companies have ongoing struggles connecting to their core audience, meeting their projected sales goals, or wrestling with the right strategy or messaging to capture the right lead gen for their team.
The point is that everyone is unique in the specific needs of their brand. Luckily there is a ton of help out there! There’s a huge pool of very talented people and agencies that can help you reach your sales and marketing goals. But how do you know who will be a good fit for your company?
This question makes perfect sense to dive into, as your unique needs may not be so easily identified, or the fix may not always be a straight and narrow path.
Finding the right agency to help you reach your business goals might seem like a very daunting task, but here are 6 questions to ask a marketing agency during the vetting process.
1) Do you have experience working within my industry?
Most agencies have a ton of experience in very diverse markets, so it enables them to apply those experiences to best help you. However, working with an agency that has a lot of experience within your vertical or space can be a huge benefit. They may better understand the challenges that are specific to your industry and your client base.
2) What does your discovery process look like?
Do they dig deep to understand what your true needs are, or are they more focused on treating the effect rather than the cause? If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. They should have a strong discovery process to flush out not only what your business goals are but also what a complete win looks like to you and your team. For example, you’re going to run into trouble if the agency is celebrating a new web traffic milestone while you are unhappy about a low conversion rate.
Are they willing to challenge your perspective?
Most agencies have a ton of experience and are able to understand the complex challenges that you are experiencing. However, a lot of agencies tend to hold back some strategy or recommendations out of fear of “calling your baby ugly” so you accept them into your open arms.
Are they (and you) seeing the big picture? Are you on the same page about what long-term growth looks like? It’s almost instinctive for an agency to walk in and start fixing everything in sight because they believe you need it. However, most good agencies approach these challenges one bite at a time. Most times there is a hierarchy of needs to be met and everyone should be on the same page to reach what that win looks like.
3) Does the agency focus solely on their core competencies or are they there to help you reach your goals in any way they can?
Many times agencies work within their internal skillsets to best serve the client. Other times an agency can (and should) help you realize what can give you the largest impact toward reaching your business goal, even if it doesn’t benefit the agency.
For example, if an agency identifies a specific need for a specialized trade show display that would help reach their business goals, they should jump in and offer the best vendor options available to them, because it’s the right thing to do.
Again, everything should always be focused on reaching YOUR end business goals – not just what is easiest, most comfortable or most profitable for the agency.
4) Do they have a great portfolio of work?
Do they have clients within your industry? Who are their clients and are they an industry leader in their space? Do they focus on digital marketing or is their creative great too? Do their clients stay with them year after year?
It’s a pretty simple concept. If their past work impresses you, then you will hopefully be impressed with their work for you as well. Every agency will work hard to help you win, but not every agency is a good fit for your needs and culture.
5) What does the agency specialize in?
Do they have good competency in the skills that you need? If you are rebranding, do they have the skill sets to deliver:
- Branding and Identity
- Creative Messaging and Design
- Web Design and Development
- Content Marketing
Because everything has been trending toward smaller agencies for the last several years, many agencies don’t have the ability to specialize in everything, and if they do, the cost may exceed the value that they provide. It’s okay for some important work to be done from an outside vendor as long as your agency can manage that for you. Again, it’s their job to help you reach your goals, whatever that looks like.
6) Do they communicate well?
So much depends on good communication and your agency should be no different. How do they onboard a new project? Do they have project management software to foster good communication up and downstream? Are monthly reports just shipped over in an email or is there a monthly meeting to discuss performance?
Each client is different and likes to communicate differently. Some like to be completely hands-on and see everything with lots of transparency, others don’t want to be nearly involved as long as the business goals are met. Many times this comes down to a cultural fit as well as a competency fit. You need to make sure their communication style meets your needs and vice versa in order to get the best results possible.
There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Agency
Picking the right agency is a large investment. They have to do great work and they have to truly understand your business goals, but it’s not only about the work that they do or the clients that they have. It’s also about how they fit with your company and the teams that they will be working with to help you reach those goals.
So by all means, ask for referrals, read a ton of their case studies, look at their work, talk to their clients, meet their team, go to lunch and get to know them. It shouldn’t be too challenging to pull back the curtain and see who they are and how they can help you.
You should spend the time and really get a feel for who you’re going to be working with for a few months, years or decades.
Want to learn more about how to find the right agency to help promote your brand and bring your story to the masses? Give us a call today at 248-579-9972 and we’ll be happy to offer our two cents and give you a quick glimpse into our culture.