Have you been wondering if working with an ad agency is the right move for you and your company? There’s no firm line that’s been drawn in the sand that states at which point you might hire an agency, and some organizations even develop their own in-house marketing teams. But if you choose to hire someone from outside your company, choosing the right partner is essential.
As the CEO of an omnichannel digital marketing agency, I've found the problem is that there’s no rulebook for who can and can’t run an agency. Making the mistake of choosing an ill-equipped or ill-experienced agency will often achieve little more for your business than a hole in your pocket and possibly even your reputation. The good news is that there are some red flags and must-haves that can help you make a much more informed decision when searching for prospective agencies.
Conduct background research.
There are measures you can take as a company before you even contact an agency to determine an initial level of competency that exists within that organization. First things first, start with its previous client track record. Find out what type of clients it works with and what kind of businesses those clients have. An agency’s client history will tell you a lot about its level of ambition, where its interests really lie and how much diverse experience it can bring to the table.
After that, see what awards, accolades and positive testimonials an agency has to its name. For example, if you’re hiring a media buying firm and you want it to manage your social media, see if it’s badge-certified by Google and Facebook. Accreditations are a good indicator that the firm can help you achieve your goals.
A final check you can do before you contact an agency directly is to look on Glassdoor, a website where current and former employees anonymously review companies. The way an agency treats its staff will not only show how it will treat you, but also the level of commitment, work ethic and quality you can expect to get from the organization at all levels.
Reach out to the agency with questions.
Only after you’ve completed those initial investigations from afar should you then reach out to the agency personally. However, there are still some boxes you need to tick before you commit to hiring it.
Treat any conversation you have with an agency like an interview. I believe competent agencies will savor the challenge and the chance to show off, and the less competent will show their true colors. Ask direct questions, such as:
• Who’s on your team?
• Who will be directly working with me?
• What relevant or transferable experience can you bring to my business?
• How many clients do you currently have?
• What are your goals as an agency, and how does that impact me?
Questions like these can help you make an informed decision in two important ways. For starters, they’ll quickly reveal whether the agency has a senior leadership team who's able to solve the problems that made you reach out to the agency in the first place. You don’t want your work to be offshored and passed from pillar to post; the agency should be able to directly fill the holes in your business you don't want to specifically hire for. Secondly, this type of interview approach will help you see if you have a good enough rapport with that particular agency and whether you’re going to be able to work well together.
Like anything in business, even if the agency passes all tests with flying colors, there are still no long-term guarantees. However, approaching hiring an agency in this way certainly helps to eliminate a lot of the common mistakes businesses fall foul to in the early stages of recruitment. It’s surprising just how much a little digging and questioning can reveal about an agency to its credit or its detriment.
If you’re looking for an agency, make sure to take your time selecting the right one for your business. Any respectable agency will understand and honor that process because it knows a rushed decision could prove extremely costly to you. In so many cases, a business’s choice of agency makes or breaks it, especially in the earlier stages of growth. So, it’s important you get it right.