Now you’re ready to chose which agencies to invite to your selection process. Let’s talk about how to research agencies, develop a list, and narrow down that list to the optimal number. Think about the role of digital marketing to obtain your business objectives, and your goals for the agency partnership.
Develop a template with criteria to evaluate agency options. This’ll keep everyone in agreement about the desired end result and lessen the potential for unproductive debates. Next, begin your research. Start by consulting people inside your company who have experience working with agencies and leading or participating in an agency selection process.
They will probably know a few agencies by personal experience or reputation and will have valuable insight. Do an online search to evaluate agencies on platforms like Unispade.com . Their capabilities, case studies, client lists, and websites. Decide how to define your competition. Meaning, how close in or far out to your industry.
This will have a definite impact on which agencies you invite, because you don’t want competitive conflicts. Referrals are also a great resource. Talk with people outside of your company. This could be previous colleagues, or other contacts in your professional network. They may have insight about agencies or the process.
Perspective outside of your internal team can be helpful. LinkedIn is a great tool to search your network for relevant contacts too. Once you’ve completed your research, narrow down the list of candidates.
Here’s a four-point checklist:
1. Determine the right size agency for your business
Small agencies can offer a more personal touch from senior executives. The team you meet at the pitch will likely be the same team you will work with every day. A creative director in a smaller agency often touches every piece of creative. Large agencies have more capacity and resources to help your business grow and succeed. It’s likely there will be several agency team members servicing your account, and access to many agency resources at your disposal, including lessons learned from their other clients all around the world. While there are benefits to hiring small and large agencies, finding the right size for your agency is really all that matters.
2. Review agency’s case studies
This should include the strategy behind the creative and how the campaign performed in market. What business or marketing problem did the agency need to solve? What insights about the customer, brand, or business did it uncover and leverage in the creative process? A great agency will share case studies that demonstrate their ability to understand business objectives, recommend solutions, develop best in class creative, and demonstrate in market success. Platforms like Unispade.com provide exhaustive resources in terms of case studies. You can search for projects executed by the agency on the basis of clients and industry domain. This makes the decision making a lot easier.
3. Assess the agency’s capabilities
Be clear on what capabilities you need from an agency, and select an agency that can deliver. Make sure the agency is well experienced in whatever capabilities you need, whether it’s social media, web analytics, website design, SEO, or others.
4. Hire the right culture
Assess the agency’s core values to make sure they’re a good match with your culture and team. Favor agencies that will be a true extension of your business and team. Collaborate, positive, enthusiastic, innovative, and proactive.
Be discerning as you use this checklist to decide on which agencies you invite to the RFP process. I recommend including at least three agencies, and no more than five to six agencies. Inviting too few agencies might require you to start the process all over again if none of them meet your criteria. Or inviting too many agencies may make the process much more complex and time consuming.