How to choose an agency: Know what you want (part 3)

Eenie You’re hiring an agency because you want results.

This is not about making your ads look prettier or your Web site cooler. (Although that may be a by product.) This is about doing more business, smarter.

So, how do you choose the right partner?  Eenie Meanie Mienie Moe?

Well, if you read my earlier post you know I don’t think it should be an RFP.  But on the other extreme, it shouldn’t be just because your cousin works there either.

Following a simple process (simple to understand, but will take discipline and time to execute) will protect you from making an expensive mistake.

The phases of the process are:

  • Know what you want  (ask yourself questions)
  • Do your homework (ask the prospective agencies questions)
  • The meet and greet (get together and ask questions)

Let’s start with the first phase — knowing what you want.   You start with your own organization.  Before you reach out to find the right partner, it’s important to know what you are bringing to the party.

You should ask yourself a series of questions.  Let’s look at question #3:

What kind of client will we be?

This is probably the most important question you need to ask yourself and it’s also the toughest to answer. Before you can know what kind of agency you need, you need to know how you’ll be as a client.

Will you be open with your financial information? Will they be privy to board meetings and your internal dirty laundry? Will you be open to new ideas and innovative strategies to hit your goal targets? How accessible will you be? Are you going to make their daily contact person a junior staffer or will they have the ear of a senior management team member?

Before you can really know what kind of an agency will be the right fit, you need to know what sort of an environment you’re bringing them into.


Watch for the next question you should ponder…

The rest of the How to Choose An Agency Series:

Flickr photo courtesy of PeeJ0e

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2 comments on “How to choose an agency: Know what you want (part 3)

  1. Cam,

    Well, turning to what we teach our clients — I think a good agency should be able to develop a brand that differentiates them in the marketplace.

    Then, the prospects have a head start on knowing which agencies to sample.

    We’ve had several clients who started with a “first date” sort of project. It allowed both of us to see if we wanted a second date.

    How about you — what’s the best way for your firm to get new clients?


  2. Cam,

    I agree — doing good work at a fair price and helping our clients succeed is expected.

    But…seldom delivered. We have clients come to us many times in a very wary position because they feel taken and mislead.

    There are lots of good agencies out there but there are also many who give our profession a bad name.

    The trick is talking about all of that with a prospect without sounding either self-important or like you’re knocking the competition. Our philosophy is we keep focused on the prospect, talk about ourselves as little as possible and never an ill word about our competition.

    So far, so good.


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