How do you pick an agency to work with? There are plenty of ideas you can throw out to answer that question, but to really nail it down, we needed to look at hard data. It’s important to make data-based decisions in everything in order to make informed decisions, whether that be in design, development, marketing, or in general business operations.
That’s why we surveyed over 200 clients, asking them what a perfect digital agency looks like. Now, we know there’s no perfect agency out there, but our clients told us that there were nine major areas they were looking at.
What are the people at the agency like? Are they a group that you get along with? Do you enjoy talking to them? And most importantly, can you work with them? This is nearly impossible to gauge over a phone call, which is why multiple face-to-face meetings, or even video meetings, can be extremely helpful. Find out how well you and your team mesh with the people at the agency before you really get in the thick of it.
Another area — what projects has the agency completed in the past? Do they have any projects that are similar to the one you’re working on? If not, that’s not the end of the relationship. Every business is unique, so you will not always find an exact match to what you are after.
That said, you should ultimately look for expertise in your industry, and for projects completed with businesses of similar size.
Pricing is almost never about finding the cheapest agency. In fact, many seasoned businesses will cut out the cheapest offerings, and only look at agencies with some make-sense bids. This is often because — unless a clear reason is given — such cheap prices are a red flag about not only the business, but the quality of work, too.
Do they understand your business?
Has the agency made it their mission to learn about your business and the needs and pain points that it is solving. Even massive agencies don’t know everything, so being able to have a level of humility to learn the client’s industry is a really good sign. After all, you don’t need an egotistical account manager or agency making strategy decisions for you when they do not know anything about the work the business is doing.
You might expect this to be a given, but not every agency is timely. You will want to find a digital agency that can deliver projects and results in a timely manner. You won’t always be able to find this out for sure until you start working for them, but good early indicators are timely communication, whether through email, phone meetings, or video calls.
A great digital agency is going to nail the details of your next marketing plan, and without getting stuck in the weeds. It’s important to see that distincting — being detail-focused, but without letting those details trip the agency up in missing deadlines, communication, and so on.
Flexibility is another important area.They need to flexible in anything and everything. Plans of action are great in theory, but sometimes they don’t always translate into reality, which is where the importance of being willing to be flexible comes in.
A good agency takes calculated risks. For example, if your business is looking at outsourcing a marketing plan to an agency, that agency needs to be willing to test and try out new marketing channels to find out which one will bring your business the most performance or return on investment.
Using “safe” channels are not a bad thing by any means, but it often takes risk to generate returns businesses are looking for.
And finally, the agency needs to be professional. They don’t need to feel rigid or even be like C-level executives, but should have a level of professionalism and expertise about them. It’s important to take the job seriously, but without sacrificing personality and friendliness.
Working with a digital agency is never going to be perfect no matter where you go — we’re all working with imperfect people, after all. But here’s the takeaway — working with an agency is like dating. Conflict and frustrations happen, but if trust, transparency, and communication are at the center, the working relationship succeeds.