I choo-choo-chooooose you: How to choose the right digital marketing agency to align with your strategic priorities & brand culture
Remember when Lisa broke Ralph Wiggum’s so badly you could actually see it? That’s basically how it feels when you are in the heat of a project and realize you have partnered with the wrong digital marketing agency. Instead of clutching at your heart, you may be pulling your hair and moaning over the money you invested in these ne’er-do-wells, but the gravity of the circumstances will be the same.
So often, people do a little online search-a-roo, see a digital or creative agency that uses flashy web banners and away they go. Alternatively, out go standardized RFPs with character limitations and personality-less parameters that suppress the very imaginativeness you should be seeking in the people who will represent your brand on- and offline. The result can be a Ralph-esque train wreck, which may compromise your objectives and, equally as important, your peace of mind.
How do you avoid falling for an agency that just doesn’t quite jive with your vibe? Keep these key things in mind when sifting through the rough to find your shiny digital diamond.
The right marketing agency will be an extension of your team
An agency is external, but that does not mean they should work in isolation from your team. They should be adaptable enough to align with your brand and work well alongside the members of your organization. When working on your initiatives, they are supposed to adapt your voice and amplify it – rather than forcing your messaging to fit with their tone.
To confirm this potential partner (emphasis on partnership) has the capacity to emulate your working style, vision and values, ask for examples of their chameleon-like ability to represent different brands without diluting their distinct tone.
They can demonstrate with tangible numbers that they know how to walk the talk
Anecdotes are cute, but just saying you are a hot-fire marketing maven without any measurable results is the equivalent of swiping right on pictures of Halle Berry and expecting to land a date with the five-time nominee for World’s Hottest Woman. Except, when it comes to choosing the wrong digital marketing agency, your choice will cost you more than a plate of spaghetti and your pride.
Hosting an agency match-making process that allows for both conversation and written appeals will show you the qualitative and quantitative sides of what they can offer. If an agency makes general references to big wins, be sure to delve more deeply into what was actually achieved and via which steps. If they say they are masters at the viral video, look into that and see how many dollar bills it took to achieve that viewership.
You should like them
This one seems straightforward, but it’s often overlooked in the spirit of choosing an effective agency. While KPIs are king, if you cringe every time you get an email from your digital agency, they are not the one. One of the ways an agency may pull a fast one on you is by introducing several team members, none of which will actually be your key point of content.
Ensure you get to know the people you will deal most directly with – i.e., don’t just get drawn into the CEO whose face you never see again until their ugly sweater Christmas card. Do you like your Account Exec and understand who will be writing your copy and designing your web elements? Check out these people’s work and personalities before you sign the dotted line for someone who ain’t sticking around.
What’s up with their project management mentality?
Is your future digital team sorting through a trail of sticky notes or are they highly organized and leveraging legit project management tools? Not only is it important that your future agency knows where their paper trail leads, but they also need to deliver on their commitments on time and without excuse. This means, if you are going through the recruiting process and they show up late for meetings – Zoom or otherwise – or send through that email a day or two later than promised, that is likely how they will work moving forward. Or, even worse because they will have already won your business. This is what we call a major red flag, no go, hard pass.
Oh, and be sure to confirm if they are willing to hop onto your project management software or if you will be integrated into theirs. Does the latter work for you? Will they take the time to teach you how to use said software? These are the deets companies frequently forget and then pay for in terms of human resources on the backend.
How effective is this agency at achieving your specific goals?
This relates back to their measurable demonstration of online marketing prowess. However, this friendly reminder digs deeper to look at what YOU want to achieve.
For example, if you want to have an externally managed blog, you need to make sure this digital agency has an impressive record of blogging. Also, ask questions that will reveal if they offer full-scale management or will just be sending you emails with copy that you then need to design and post yourself. Always read beneath the headline promises and uncover if you are making the right decision or making work for yourself.
Finding a digital agency you like will make all the difference in what you can achieve and how you feel about achieving it
Digital marketing agencies can contribute expertise, awesome talent and great personalities to your workdays and workloads. So, put in the time and effort to finding one who motivates you and makes your life LESS rather than more stressful. If you like sarcasm, strategy and a hands-on CEO who will tell you like it is, reach out to CR Creative today and let’s see if we will swipe right on each other in the game of digital marketing dating.