Part 1: Why should you consider a marketing agency?

With ever increasing pressure on internal resources, companies are facing an uphill struggle to meet objectives in a demanding business environment. If this sounds like your challenge in 2014, then it could be time for a change...

  • Is your in-house marketing department operating beyond its full capacity, or are your marcomms activities too sporadic and variable to justify a marketing department?
  • Is your current marketing agency delivering your objectives, or have you been sidelined while they fry bigger fish?

Choosing to work with the right marketing or advertising agency is a priceless investment…but what should you look for in your chosen agency partner? When working with an agency, you have access (budget permitting) to what is effectively your external marketing department with vast resources, experience and expertise across key disciplines and specialisms. As long as you clearly outline your objectives and targets from the outset, a proactive agency should prescribe your marcomms activities in addition to delivering your brief and anticipating your next business moves - all the while exceeding your expectations.

Part 2: What are the first things you should look for in a potential agency partner?

What kind of service portfolio is important to you when considering working with an agency, and can that agency grow with you? As an extension of your marketing resources, is the agency flexible in terms of expanding their services?

It’s important to think about which services you currently require and how they may differ to your marcomms requirements further down the line as your business expands and technology continues to flourish. For example, a full service agency, in addition to strategic expertise, will be experienced in major creative disciplines with a roster of approved suppliers for the purpose of outsourcing a small number of disciplines above their capabilities whilst maintaining the quality and deliverables for clients. At the other end of the scale, a one man band, account handling and designing ‘jack of all trades’, may not be able to provide the service, pace and strategy on the ideal scale for your organisation.

So when considering an agency, do they demonstrate their services portfolio with case studies? Don’t be afraid to ask.

Part 3: How do you effectively manage your selected agency relationship?

If you are working with an agency for the first time, be sure to clarify and establish working practices such as:

  • How often do you expect to meet with them for planning and reviews?
  • How do they work with and manage budgets?
  • Do they estimate projects prior to commencing work?
  • How do they manage multi-projects? Will they have to recruit to cater for your account?
  • Do you like the approach of a proactive agency, or do you prefer to be in the marcomms driving seat?
  • Who will be your account handler / manager / director, and are they approachable?
  • What are their turnaround times and will they be able to keep to these during their busiest periods?

When combined with your habitual working practices, the above will form foundations to a successful client–agency partnership.

So you have chosen a new agency, but when should you expect to see results? After around three months you should start to reap the rewards of a strong working partnership with your chosen agency - providing your goals are obtainable and your briefs have been accurate. If your partnership isn’t going as well as you hoped, it’s at the three month point that you should review the working practices and the work to date, in order to ascertain how you can achieve a more fruitful partnership.