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Inside Scoop: Agency Tales

Posted on 3.02.2014

Deciding on a design and development partner can be an onerous task, for a variety of reasons.

Not only do brands have to cut through the noise to ensure they will get what they are being promised, but there are also so many qualified agencies to choose from that comparing portfolios and even personalities can prove to be quite difficult.

What brands need is the inside scoop from a design agency's current and past clients to ensure they are entering a productive partnership. Three local and national agencies are put to the test, when their clients answer some questions about their experiences (and show off their work).

Agency: IdeaWork Studios

Client: Crunch

What led to your decision to choose IdeaWork Studios as your design and development partner?

Christina DeGuardi, SVP Marketing, Branding and Communications of Crunch: We had used them upon someone's recommendation for a small project and found them to be a highly efficient, technically savvy, creative thinking partner. Given our earlier experience, we felt very confident they would be the right partner for us to help create a smart and strategic approach to our website, which is a key function of our business.

What did they help you with? 

DeGuardi: They have been our Web partner on many projects, please reference www.Crunch.com for the largest project they helped create and currently provide support for. They also helped us create www.CrunchLive.com and assisted us in developing not only the site, but the business model as well. We’ve also worked on numerous other projects with IdeaWork, including a mobile app, a microsite to celebrate our 21st birthday, and a viral video contest microsite.

What was the process like and was there anything you wish you knew before working with an agency? 

DeGuardi: The process was collaborative and adaptive to our business needs. I wish we all knew how emerging technically would affect the decisions we make in the process, but IdeaWork tries to get ahead of that as much as anyone really can.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

DeGuardi: I think the upfront strategy of each online project is crucial, and having a partner that is thorough in this regard is very important. I also think it's important to not underestimate the power of having a partner like IdeaWork in a support position after the initial project is completed, it opens the door for continued innovation.

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Agency: Orbit Media

Client: Bottleneck Management

What led to your decision to choose Orbit Media Studios as your design and development partner?

Angela Zoiss, Director of Marketing, Bottleneck Management: Our decision to move forward with Orbit was based upon their expert and analytical approach to SEO (search engine optimization). Not only was Orbit a clear choice for Web design, but the partnership they bring to the table from a digital marketing perspective is unmatched. Their ongoing support and relationship is invaluable. Orbit takes the time to educate their clients on their areas of expertise. For all of these reasons, comparing Orbit to a typical Web design firm is comparing apples to oranges.

What did they help you with (are there any pictures/links of the work that you can provide)?

Zoiss: Orbit helped ensure that each of our Web pages were/are optimized for search engines. Helping to research and implement keyword phrases that are critical to our industry gave us an immediate advantage over our competition. Orbit's helped us appear in relevant searches, which is of the utmost importance in digital marketing.

On a separate note, their ongoing customer support has been incredible. Their timely and friendly responses are so refreshing! They are always willing and able to help.

What was the process like and was there anything you wish you knew before working with an agency?

Zoiss: The process was fairly painless, although it was time consuming. We "interviewed" many agencies, but prior to that we had many internal meetings, and spent many hours researching, to help paint a clear picture of exactly what it was we wanted and needed to get out of this enormous project. It's inevitable to learn along the way, but I'd advise to clearly determine who in an organization will be handling what, in terms of Web management. There are also a lot of assets that a Web design agency will need to fully flesh out a project, so I would also advise anyone to be prepared with those assets - e.g. photos, bios, copy, etc.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Zoiss: We interviewed many agencies, with Orbit winning out in the end. There has not been one day that's gone by that we haven't been thankful for that decision.

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Agency: ZOG Digital

Client: Schlotzsky's

What led to your decision to choose ZOGDigital as your design and development partner?

Debbie Gardner, VP, Franchise Services of Schlotzsky's: We were initially just interested in optimizing search for our then-current website. We didn’t have the in-house expertise and started talking with many different firms from all over the country. As we went through the process, we decided that we wanted to update our website and improve the CMS so that we could make updates in our ever-changing restaurant environment. ZOG Digital stood out as they really listened to our needs and had a proven track record in our industry and other retail. The project timeline was realistic and were very competitive in their pricing.

What did they help you with (are there any pictures/links of the work that you can provide)?

Gardner: ZD redesigned our entire website including menu page, locations and microsites for over 350 locations where franchise owners can customize information about their restaurant including hours, directions, menu items and more.

What was the process like and was there anything you wish you knew before working with an agency?

Gardner: ZOG Digital has a very methodical process that is laid out from the beginning with milestones for each phase of the development. The team was terrific to work with. They brought great ideas, were flexible with change, and made the entire process fun and exciting.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Gardner: We launched our website in February and the corporate team, as well as the local franchise owners, have been overwhelming pleased with the fun, unique and quirky website that matches our brand and brings in new guests!

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