Picking an agency partner can be difficult and a big responsibility. It’s the difference between a longstanding partnership that drives growth and sales, and a financial burden that delivers little or nothing to your bottom line. Plus, there are thousands of agencies in the UK so knowing where to start can be daunting,
Admittedly, taking advice from an agency might seem biased, but our team has been responsible for multiple in-house marketing budgets and have ourselves chosen various agency partners.
So here is our advice, and a few things we wish we’d known or asked at the time. We promise it doesn’t just say choose Melt Digital – though of course we hope you do!
1. Do they understand your business and industry?
Sounds simple enough, but finding an agency that truly understands your business – the inner workings, goals and challenges – can be difficult. So how can you decipher this?
As part of your proposal process, ask the agency to outline their interpretation of your business, industry landscape and goals, as well as their proposed strategy. This can be a quick way to gauge whether they understand your business or not. Previous experience in your industry certainly helps too, but isn’t always necessary.
This one is relatively straightforward – can the agency deliver your requirements within your budget? Agency fees differ wildly, so it’s up to you to determine what you are willing or able to spend. Our advice is to be transparent about your budget from the get-go, to save yourself and the agency wasting time. Most agencies will be upfront about whether they can deliver your requirements or not within the budget. Alternatively, they might suggest delivering your requirements over a longer period of time to help accommodate your budget.
As with any service, you get what you pay for – so be wary of the agencies that can deliver the most for the least investment. Ultimately, there’s no ‘right’ price point, so you need to weigh up budget, deliverables, value and everything else when making your final decision.
3. Culture fit and working style
Are you looking for a young, dynamic and creative agency or a more established safe pair of hands? Every company’s needs are different and your requirements might depend on the type of services they offer – SEO, content, digital PR, social media, web development, PPC, etc. In our opinion, culture fit can be important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
You also need to consider whether you’re looking for an agency to simply deliver your requirements, or if you want to be challenged to try new things and encouraged to spend your budget on the things that will have the greatest impact on your performance. Similarly, do you want a collaborative relationship? Or do you want to hand it all over and trust the agency to manage your account with minimal input? There’s no right or wrong method, it’s down to your preference.
Ultimately, you want like minded people who share your company values and vision for the future.
4. Agency size
Should you work with a big or small agency? There are advantages to both.
Smaller agencies tend to have a more specialist service offering. With smaller teams, you get to know everyone working on your account, it’s more collaborative and they’re able to quickly react or make changes.
Larger agencies tend to be a one-stop shop and are able to service all your needs in-house. This is great if you want access to a wide variety of skills and don’t want to work with multiple agencies.
For small to medium brands, working with smaller agencies ensures you’re not going to be sidelined for the big brand clients, and is more likely to suit your budget too. That being said, big brands are also increasingly opting to work with smaller agencies and enjoying the benefits.
5. Staff turnover
There’s no harm in asking for staff turnover figures (or you can check agency LinkedIn page insights). Why? Constant change in your support team can be disruptive, resulting in lost communication, slow progress and extra time required from you to help onboard them. It could also be a sign of wider issues within the agency.
Of course, as in all businesses, people will come and go, but you want to ensure it’s not a regular occurrence.
6. Can they demonstrate results and ROI?
Ultimately, check what you are going to get in return for your investment. Can the agency demonstrate results that they’ve achieved for other clients? We always recommend asking for case studies, and quizzing the agency on certain numbers if needed.
We know it can be difficult to predict results (ie. how much traffic you will receive or how many links a campaign will deliver) but an agency should be able to give ballpark figures or commit to minimum level KPIs. After all, if they cannot demonstrate clear results then why should you hand over your money?