Whether you are trying to develop a strategy for your company to get off the ground and you are just getting to know your brand, or you need to develop some great ideas to take your brand to the next level, the one thing you can’t gloss over is the process of finding the right agency or firm to get the job done. You may be able to do certain things on your own, but you also may not have the right expertise. A good business owner or marketing manager will be able to identify when it is necessary to bring someone in.
As a large organization, you may have the financial resources to do an extensive search of the larger firms because money is not an issue, however smaller organizations don’t have the same luxury, so the search becomes more targeted, and a little more personal.
Here are a few things to consider when you are looking for an agency:
Look out for the “snake oil salesmen”
Remember that PR and marketing agencies are masters of storytelling, and there are many people that identify themselves as experts. That is not to say you should distrust everything! Trust is a huge part of the client-Agency relationship. The key is to learn to discern what is good information and what is exaggerated for the pitch. And sometimes, the pitch itself may be fully designed with multi-media, but you need to see past that to the meat of the content you are being pitched. Simple can be beautiful!
Questions Are Important
To develop any strategy to the point where it will be successful, you need to make sure you ask a lot of questions of yourself and your organization. The same goes for when you are looking to develop a good relationship with your agency. You should be prepared to answer a lot of questions. If they don’t ask questions, then they probably aren’t invested in your company in the right way. Here are some examples of questions that should be asked:
- What are your goals? In a perfect world, what would your outcome look like?
- What are your wants and needs? (They are very different things!)
- What resources do you have to accomplish this strategy? (if implementation is done internally)
- What is your budget?
- Who will be the point of contact and how do they like to work?
- Have you already attempted something like this? Why didn’t it work?
Don’t be afraid to date before you get married
We can use any saying for this: “walk before you run”; “jog before you sprint”; “look before you leap”. The idea is to build a foundation of strategy and trust before getting into it for the long haul. Don’t feel pressured to sign a long term contract with an agency from the beginning. Do a smaller project or short campaign to get your feet wet and then decide from there whether you work well together.
Set Realistic Expectations
Before you start anything, sit down and have a discussion about realistic expectations. This should be a two-way dialogue where both your agency and you define your roles in this working relationship. Open lines of communication benefits both parties.
Above all, don’t forget to have fun with the relationship! You should get along with your agency.