• How to choose the right agency partner for your business

Choosing the right agency partner for your business, no matter how small, can be a daunting task. Essentially, you will be needing to find not only the skill sets that you need to align with in order to creatively and strategically represent your business, but a team of individuals who will understand your brand and business and love it like their own.

Words: Jessica Turner, Managing Director of Confab

We sat down recently and played a game of hypotheticals. Supposing we were not an agency ourselves, how would we (knowing what we do about our own industry) go about choosing the perfect agency partner for our business. Here are some tips we came up with from our little exercise that we wanted to share with you:

1. First, clearly define your own goals and objectives as a business

It will be difficult to know if you’ve found the right digital agency if you aren’t yet clear on your own business goals and objectives. For example, if your goals are increased brand awareness, you may want to find an agency with a highly creative team to assist in helping your brand be the ‘purple cow’ that stands out from among your competitors. On the other hand, if your goals are lead generation and conversions, you will need to look for an agency that is brilliant with strategy, who can assess your business and then develop a precise lead-generation strategy and then of course, execute this to actually achieve the results.

2. Do your homework

If you are living in the 21st century then the chances are that there are a number of digital and creative agencies in your area who you could partner with. The chances also are, that many of these agencies may have a bark that is bigger than their bite. Make sure you do your homework, both on Google and by asking around for agency referrals within your area. Google may lead you to a few worthy suitors, but bear in mind that it’s easy to have a great agency website and a lot harder to deliver excellent agency services that will achieve the results you set out when you defined your goals and objectives. For this reason, we highly recommend speaking to friends or other businesses in your area to get a list of agencies that they have worked with and would recommend.

3. Interview your agency shortlist

Once you’ve got a list of agencies that you’d like to pursue, begin reaching out to them via phone or email and briefly explain who you are and what your needs entail. Your first interaction with the agency will be a telltale sign as to whether they are right for you. For example, if you receive a response that is short, and simply asks for your budget, run for the hills, this agency is only interested in one thing. If you receive a warm response that requests a sit down meeting, you may have struck gold!

Arrange a face to face meeting with your agency shortlist, come prepared with your business and project information and then be sure to ask some of the questions below…

4. Ask for client references and view their portfolio

We are always surprised at the number of our own clients who are happy to undertake work with us without having asked to see our previous work. Personally, I would never outlay money or time with an agency partner without having seen their work either live (in the case of websites or social media) or in a portfolio format. Once you like what you see, you can also ask them for references from some of their current clients. If you’re really wanting to go ‘Sherlock Holmes’ style, you could contact these references and ask not just about the work that was done, but the manner in which it was undertaken. Were they punctual to meetings? Did they meet deadlines? Were you happy with the end results? Were there hidden costs?

5. Explain your needs and ask if they’ve done any similar projects

During your interview meeting, explain in as much detail as possible what your business or project needs are and then find out if they’ve done similar projects within your industry. If they haven’t, don’t let that put you off from choosing them, but do make sure that they are certain that they can deliver on your unique needs.

6. Ask what they specialise in

Just like any businesses, creative agencies have niches. Whilst they may offer a plethora of services, ask which of these they specialise in and where their largest client base exists. For example, we started out as a social media marketing agency and that is still an area of expertise for us. Even within the social media offering, we specialise further into strategic social media campaigns and lead generation from social channels.

7. Ask for a detailed quote

Before you give anyone your ‘yes’ make sure that a line-by-line cost breakdown has been sent to you in the form of a formal quotation. Familiarise yourself with the cost breakdown and ask questions if you need to.

8. No matter how small the project, sign something!

Whether you are needing a simple logo designed or are undertaking a year’s worth of creative services with an agency, make sure you sign an SLA or contact or at the very least, sign the quotation that was sent to you. This will ensure that you know what you are entitled to as the client, but also familiarise yourself with the unique terms of the agency you will be working with. For example, our design service offers 3 reverts on a logo design with any additional reverts being charged for at our hourly design rate. Should you not be made aware of this prior and then receive your invoice at the end of the project for a larger amount than was initially quoted, there may be a sour end to a potentially great working relationship.

We hope that this was helpful to you and makes the task of searching for a new agency partner for your business a little less fearful and a lot more successful!

Related Tag: Digital Agency Durban