In the second part of this series, I want to continue the discussion of Marketing Agencies. If you have weighed out the options of Agency VS In-House and decided Agency is the way to go, it can be difficult to find the right agency. In my opinion, the main areas of difficulty in selecting an agency lies in finding the right fit and finding the signal in the noise.
By finding the right fit, I mean finding an agency that possesses all of the core competencies you are looking for at a price that is fair and sustainable to your business. As I stated in part 1, a Marketing Agency can offer a multitude of services, but it’s important that they excel at the ones you need to outsource. Just because they offer every service you are looking for, that does not mean that they are the right fit.
Trust but verify. Ask to see examples of the service you are looking at. If it’s social posting, ask to see a couple of brands that they handle this for. If it’s Facebook advertising, again, ask them for a couple of brands that they manage Facebook advertising for. With Facebook’s brand transparency initiative, you can now see every advertisement a brand is running actively on Facebook. For advertising accounts ask to see customer dashboards (they can blur any customer information before sending). Ask for references. Ask those references hard questions. If a reference is being provided, you can assume they are a happy customer. Ask them what they feel the agency struggles at. At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable and confident that the agency is top notch in the service you are wanting.
Finding the signal in the noise. There are A LOT of marketing agencies. It’s a very low barrier to entry. You could call a friend and start a marketing agency tomorrow. That does not mean you have the skills needed to be successful simply because you can start a company. Marketing is very complex and the industry is filled with people that claim they are experts. Most of these folks are self-proclaimed experts.
Just because you worked on a marketing team that had a big account that had moderate success does not mean you are an expert.
Just because you landed an account, launched their advertising and it blew up… does not mean you are an expert.
Just because you have been in ‘marketing’ for 10 years, does not mean you are an expert.
Just because you have a few clients that are all doing relatively well on their advertising accounts you manage, does not mean you are an expert. You might be really good at B2B sales though.
I’m sorry, but 99 out of 100 people that claim to be experts are not. Opportunistic? Yes. Moderately well versed? Likely. There is a big gap between the skill set of someone really good and great. To be fair, you might just need someone really good and not great. The fundamental problem here still exists, there are too many marketing agencies out there that are sub par. Ok, so I just bashed the majority of marketing agencies, not too helpful because there was not a solution in the rant. So here is the solution.
How do you find a really good or great marketing agency?
Talk to people. Form relationships with others in your industry. Talk to your other vendors. Find out who brands you admire/respect are using. Ask people who they are using. Be wary of ‘fanatics’ that just switched to an agency and are in the honeymoon phase. Join Facebook and Slack groups that share information.