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Digital Agency Matchmaking

Posted on 2.28.2013

When and how to start the process

By Lisa Barone, VP of Strategy at Overit Media

I work on the agency side of the digital marketing world, which means I regularly meet with new clients to discuss their needs, goals and experiences. These conversations are incredibly enlightening in terms of understanding their needs. They’ve also taught me that businesses struggle to understand when it’s time to consult an agency and how they need to prepare for this meeting. Here are experience-driven tips to finding a rewarding match.

When to Consult a Marketing Agency

As business owners and proud marketers, we often want to do everything ourselves. We believe we are the best person to touch our site and that we know better than anyone does about what our customers want.

This is 100 percent true. Until it’s not. There comes a time when it’s best to consult an outside agency for strategy, implementation or even to hand off entire parts of your project. By not seeking help, you are actually doing a disservice to your company.

What are signs it is time to partner with a marketing agency?

• You’re chronically overextended and doing too much outside of your expertise
• Leads have stopped for you, not your competitors
• Employees are unhappy (and leaving)

How to Find the Right Marketing Agency

Many business owners delay working with a marketing agency because trying to find an agency that is capable and trustworthy can be needlessly intimidating. Aligning yourself with the right marketing agency takes asking the right questions, of both yourself and your potential partner.

Ask Yourself: What do you need?

Answering this questions means preparing for the conversation with key information like:

• What areas of your business are working?
• Where do you think you need help?
• Where are your competitors strengths and weaknesses?
• Where do you want your business to go?

What’s most important is that you’ve identified your needs and goals. By relaying this information to your agency, they’ll be able to draw the lines for you.

Ask Them: What are your areas of specialty?

The digital agencies you interview may have experience in a wide range of disciplines, but what do they think they’re best at? As a prospective client, their answer will give you a more intimate look at the agency and their perceived strengths. You want to work with an agency that shares your view of the market, your beliefs and your similar goals. If you think video is the next hot ticket, you want your agency to be excited about video’s potential, as well. More than that, you want them to have expertise in video.

Ask Yourself: What is your preferred client/agency relationship?

You’ve already invested your time, blood, sweat and tears into your marketing efforts. That’s what got you here. So don’t hand it off to anyone without ensuring you’re getting the client/agency relationship that works best for you. Ask yourself: 

• Do you want to be actively involved in the entire process?
• Do you want an agency that’s going to act like a third-party consultant or blend into your existing team?

For most clients, I’d recommend only pairing with an agency that is willing to become part of your larger team. This is someone who will be excited to understand your whole business, your goals and how their efforts will complement your entire marketing strategy. Success happens with full integration.

Ask Them: What is your work process like for projects like mine?

Every agency will have a different approach to your project. Some start working before your signature is dry and others will require an initial brainstorm or planning session. At some agencies you’ll have a single point of contact (usually an account manager), while others will assign you different people for each department working on your project. 

Understanding your agency’s work process will lay the groundwork for a relationship of open dialogue, idea sharing and a stronger result. Take the time to understand not only how your project will get work done, but also who will be involved and how you’ll be brought into the loop. If a company cannot articulate how things are done, take that as a sign they may not get it done.

Knowing when to bring in an agency and how to find them takes time and research. However, an agency that understands your goals and shares your vision can help grow your business to depths you could not have reached without their specific expertise.

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