What to look for in an agency partner
What to look for in an agency partner
In today's globalized world, there is a litany of agencies a firm can choose to work with. With so many choices, so many specialities, setting up your RFP or even just selecting the right partner can be difficult. So here's a little guide to how an evaluation and selection process can be made easier. These are suggestions for how to look at what your prospect agencies are talking to you about as you plan:
Can answer your questions
From the start, you'll have lots of questions. These don't stop as the process moves forward - you'll likely still have questions about what is being done and why it is being done a certain way. But, from the get-go, when you're considering who to work with, look for a partner who can clearly break down the answer to your questions for you and if not, has the foresight to tell you so - and then goes and gets the right answer. That sets a pattern for how the process will move forward. Good information is best. Poor or vague responses that leave you with more questions can be an indicator that your potential partner is not what you really wanted. For example, you don't want to hire a partner to help boost your SEO, and you do so base on limited input only to find that they are engaging in unethical black hat practices that could seriously harm your company. Transparency is key in this regard. After all, it if your company and your brand.
Provide thoughtful recommendations
A great agency will be responsive to your needs but also speak up when they have other ideas. It's incredibly sad to note that today, "yes" is so much easier than push back because partners are afraid to lose a revenue opportunity. Yes often equals executing a bad idea. "Why?" is a far better path to take and often leads to a better conversation, and, improvement of the program. The best of the best efforts in the industry started with a Partner saying something like "We think that's the wrong direction, here's why". A good agency will spending the time to understand the environment and the process requirements and provide thoughtful recommendations that may even challenge your beliefs - but stay open to it, there's a reason good agencies are good agencies. A bad agency will be a team of yes men/women who sign off on every idea as long as they get paid.
Will work with - not against - your team
Agency partners are supposed to be exactly that, partners. A good agency will work with your company and come to decisions together. If you have input on how things should be done, they will listen to it and either follow it or provide clear reasons why another path would be better. Good agencies know that the most important thing in business is relationships and they will go out of their way to build them with their clients. Not because they have to. Bad agencies can be adversarial and seek to undermine contractors - all to prove that they are right and to ensure they get paid.
Provide detailed SOW's
You've selected a partner but you're not done with evaluating their promise. The SOW tells a pretty important story about all the other steps that lead up to requesting this document. Before you sign off to work with an agency, it is vital that you read the statement of work (SOW) in detail. This is a quick way to see what the contractor is all about. The SOW should provide absolute clarity on what a contractor is going to receive from hiring an agency.
Have metrics in place for success/failure
That very SOW should also outline a clear plan for success metrics. It should be a collaborative development, but something your new partner should be delivering. Data is everywhere today and successful agencies use data to drive their processes. These metrics help keep both the agency and the contractor accountable and ensure that outcomes can be clearly measured. This is crucial as, in the words of Lord Kelvin, "if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it'. A good agency will provide, or work with a contractor to create, clear metrics for success/failure of a program. A bad agency will have little or no metrics in place - you don't wing it, neither should the partners you select.
Fortunately, it isn't difficult to see which agencies are up to the mark and which aren't. A sure-fire way to check is to contact other firms who the agencies have worked with - the key here is to search out even those firms who the agency hasn't listed as 'referrals'.
It is easy to get one or two companies to give you good reviews and post it on your website, the real test is how the majority of partners react. Similarly, you can check the actual work done by the agency and see what it looks like. If an agency is unable to provide a referral or an example of work - this is a tell-tale sign of a subpar agency and they should be avoided.
We know what good agencies do because we live by these principles. Venuiti has worked with many Fortune 1000 companies and generated outstanding results. When you work with us, you know that you are working with a trusted partner. We would love to work with you, contact us today and learn more.
And we're often at work very late and very early