Properly capturing (or creating) a company’s brand in a campaign or marketing strategy is tricky. This is why so many organizations outsource their marketing to agencies.
But finding the right agency for the job is a hefty task. Think of it like dating: It’s really important to find someone who meets your needs and makes you into a better version of yourself. For brands, the right agency works with you to do just that.
Note here that when we say “agency” we’re really talking about the collection of people with their own specialties, skills, and experiences who make up the business. It’s not just about the logo and the business model; it’s about the people and what ideas and creativity they’ll bring to your account that really matters.
Here are three big things you can do to choose the most advantageous agency to work with, along with a handy list of interview questions to help inform your decision.
Look into the agency’s history to see how they’re viewed within the industry. What kind of reputation do they have? What are people saying about the humans who work there? How do past and current clients feel?
In particular, you should do a thorough search for:
- A portfolio and case studies
- Current and past clients
The right people to work with should understand your business goals and objectives, know how to meet them and add even more value, and point to exactly how that will be achieved — with specific metrics and results.
If you want to go even deeper, you can ask them for a competitor comparison. Any agency worth working with will be more than happy to prove how its people stack up against competitors.
Three specific questions to ask to determine value:
- What are the agency and competitors offering?
- What are the features and benefits of agency and competitor products?
- What sets each apart from the rest?
If they can’t answer one or any of these, it’s proof that they’re not really as valuable of an add to a customer’s marketing spend as they advertise — and they might have some internal brand building to do.
Good company culture often translates into high-quality campaigns and content. However, knowing how to spot poor company culture with the vendors you’re working with can be tricky.
In order to really get to know potential agencies — and see how they work firsthand — here are some guidelines:
Know Who’s Who
Know exactly who will be doing what on your account. If possible, speak with every member of the team who will be working with you.
And be sure to keep a close eye on whether or not the company is pulling a “bait and switch,” where a team of executives closes the deal but the people actually servicing your account are a gaggle of junior staff members.
Put Out Some Feelers
Pay attention to how the staff speak about their work and their fellow team members. This can give you an idea of how comfortable they are working together and if they feel confident in each other.
While this can be especially challenging as we continue to navigate business via Zoom, we’ve found that the best way to gauge how people work together is by asking them questions about the process. When interviewing agencies, you should never feel like they’re avoiding questions or giving you half-answers.
Do a Background Check
Research the agency on social media and in the news to see if its team members have any noteworthy accomplishments that can attest to their skill — or any PR messes that are worth taking into account.
If you find something that concerns you, ask about it! Any agency worth its stuff will be able to candidly discuss shortcomings and demonstrate how everyone learned from them.
You want to work with an agency that welcomes your questions and encourages you to ask more. Remember, when you’re interviewing agencies you’re really interviewing the people who work there. Use these as jumping-off points to vet potential agencies as you look for the right one for you:
- What other clients in your industry do they work with? Any competitors?
- Who will actually be doing the day-to-day work on your account?
- Do they use freelancers? How often? How do they assess freelancers’ skills and work to make sure your standards are met?
- Does the agency use templates or custom strategies for developing brand platforms?
- Are they focused on driving revenue or traffic? Have they ever created strategies that prioritize both?
- What tools do they typically use to deploy ads and measure performance?
- What data are they using to inform strategy and optimize campaigns for better performance?
Not Every Agency Can Be the “Right Fit” (Even Us!)
No two companies are exactly the same — even if they’re in the same industry. That’s especially true in marketing, where so many agencies specialize in so many areas. From boutique shops to major holding companies, each one employs an array of skills, personalities, and teams of creatives and strategists that can bring something different to the table. That’s why we know that Walk West won’t be a “one-size-fits-all” solution for every single brand out there.
It’s also worth noting that, sometimes, an agency isn’t the right “person” for the job — a freelancer is. For startups and smaller brands still finding their footing, sometimes an experienced freelancer may be the right fit for beginning your brand building (and your budget!).
However, if you are in the market for a partner to help develop your branding, we always work hard to create awesome campaigns and creative that are worth talking about, and we are always up for partnering with brands that need something more. And if our agency isn’t a good fit for your business, we’ll do our best to help you find the right solution to fit your needs!