Sparks are flying. The creative is right. The storytelling is succinct. The team is genuinely excited to power your brand voice. You know exactly what you want to do: swipe right. Much like being in the dating game, when you find that right marketing partner to help you achieve your business objectives, you just know.
As any person who has waded through the dating pool can attest, finding that right match is no easy task. The same can be said for brands searching for a new agency partner. Some agencies will woo you with sexy creative. Others will pique your interest with bombastic case studies. And some will promise they can do it all.
Whether you’re seeking a partner that is driven by a common purpose, one that has a profound grasp of your business goals and the region you serve, or a multifaceted agency that can help you navigate the evolving marketing landscape to maximize your budget and impact, the best marketing partnerships are the ones that feel effortless.
But those types of partnerships don’t usually just fall into your lap… You have to look at a lot of profiles until you find just that one agency that can sweep you off your feet. Which brings us to the purpose of this post: to guide you in your search to find your right agency partner.
As with dating, chemistry matters – but it isn’t the only thing if you want to go the distance. Whether using Google as your starting point or soliciting a recommendation from trusted business partners and colleagues, digging into each agency’s online portfolio is a great next step because it can serve as a litmus test regarding alignment. Take time to dive into their case studies, their blogs and any available references to get a sense of how the team may be able to address some of the hurdles you’re trying to overcome (or perhaps how they may have addressed similar challenges in the past). Not only will this research give you insights into how they work, but it’ll also help identify your goals as a team – as well as the pain points that might crop up along the way.
Here are some considerations for the agencies on your list.
- What is the agency’s capacity for storytelling? Is it powerful? Does it feel strategic and compelling for that brand, that target audience and that industry? Where are those stories showing up – and do those placements feel on strategy?
- How do they use data? How does data inform, inspire and drive the work? How is it used to measure the success and impact of the work? How does that line up to your team’s own uses of data and expectations?
- What does the agency value? Are they curious? Creative? Formal? Casual but committed to excellence? And how does that match up with the vibe and workstyle of your office and your people?
Once you’ve identified which agencies not only pass muster but impress you with their approach to the work, you’ll want to put together a list of questions to ask the agency team. It’s also helpful to identify your priorities so you’re evaluating each agency’s responses with the same criteria. Considerations on this front might include:
- Have they successfully handled any, some or all of the challenges your brand is facing?
- What is their method of planning and day-to-day communication expectations?
- How do they manage reporting?
- Is there spec work, i.e., an assignment, you want them to undertake as part of the interview process or RFP? One that will demonstrate how each agency will tackle a priority project or address a sticking point for your brand?
- What is the agency’s track record in addressing the challenges your brand is facing or goals you’re looking to achieve?
Getting to Know Each Other
Chemistry cannot be planned, forced or bought. As noted earlier, chemistry must be present – and when it is, the best kind will create an organic momentum likely to bode well for the relationship. Same goes for agency partnerships. Once you’ve determined the spark is there, you’ll want to lean in and start building trust to figure out how you might work as a team. To test the potential strength of collaborations, it’s a good idea for the prospective members of the brand and agency teams to spend time together to get a sense of what working cooperatively would be like. It’s a lot easier to build a healthy working relationship together if you like each other. Plus, it takes a lot of vulnerability to open up your brand to someone new, to communicate honestly and to collaborate earnestly – so it’s crucial to ensure that everyone feels good about their commitment and approach to the work and each other. To get there, you’ll go through a lot of Q&A, perhaps a group project and ideally a happy hour and meal or two.
Why all this due diligence? Because the honeymoon phase does eventually end, and you need to know if you have what it takes to keep the sparks flying, the communication lines open and the work sharp. And doing the appropriate amount of digging up front will give you a sense of how you and your agency partner will establish a strong foundation and build on it in the months and years ahead.
Curious about the building blocks required for a strong partnership with your marketing agency of choice? Email Nate Tredinnick at email@example.com to set up a call.