How to Get it Right When Choosing your Digital Advertising Agency: key tips to leave your marketing in safe hands.
I know what you are thinking. What is INNN, a digital agency in Spain, doing giving pieces of advice on how to choose the perfect advertising agency to work with? Well, in that sense it is true it seems difficult to be neutral. However, if you know more or less how does INNN work and how do we understand the business, you will know cheating is not how we like to attract new clients. This post is for you, on the side of the advertiser and looking for agencies to work with, but it is also for us. There is nothing like writing this in our own website to help us remember that without our clients, we are nothing.
OK, let’s forget about this emotional marketing and let’s start.
What is a digital advertising agency doing giving pieces of advice on how to choose the perfect digital agency in Spain to work with?
Rather than a declaration of intentions or an enumeration of the key steps to a perfect relationship between digital agency and client, we here enumerate a series of aspects that our experience has shown us to be crucial. It is not an absolute truth, it is our own reality, our history and as such, totally debatable. By the way, either you are a client or an agency, if you want to add anything to this post, do not hesitate to write us. To organize the ideas we are going to start from the key aspects when choosing a marketing or digital advertising agency. That is, from what you need to look for in the agency to what you need to take into account inside your company as a brand or advertiser:
All the elements above work hand in hand to attract potential customers to our brand. Customers pass through a series of phases, each of which triggers specific content and formats to serve to the customers:
On the side of the digital advertising agency
1. Demand results, not only effort. Success does not have to be assessed by the agency. Right from the beginning, ask for a clear set of objectives and an analysis of their accomplishment periodically. For example, on a monthly basis.
2. Ask for actually provable expertise and experience. Digital marketing is highly based on trial and error, but if the agency is learning with you, at least, it is logical that you are aware of it beforehand. There is nothing wrong with doing experiments, but if they are done by a team which is used to experiment. And to get it right.
3. An advertising agency needs to be passionate about what they do. If they do not value the importance of digital communication, are not passionate about brands or are excited with your project… Look for someone who does it.
4. Check whether it is truly a 360 digital marketing agency and whether it has an overall vision or if it is a specialized agency. If you just want to do a small SEM campaign you may not need an agency with transversal digital services. If you finally choose a multidisciplinary digital team, demand that they go beyond technical aspects and that they work side by side with your company and your objectives. There it is were the added value resides.
5. Avoid gurus. Nice posts like this one can seduce you, but focus on real references and on the agency’s portfolio. If you can, ask for references. The world of digital advertising is small.
6. Question the methods, business models and management systems of the agency. Transparency and confidence are fundamental. If you cannot see the agency’s benefits in their answers, run away. Nobody works for free. They are going to charge you in some way, so it is better that you know it clearly and beforehand. This is the fair way for both parties.
7. “The shoemaker’s son must not go barefoot”. If the agency’s social canals, materials’ design or their corporate identity are amateur or actually do not exist, you can already figure out that they are not really in love with their job. There is no need to be the first in the SEO ranking, but if a fashion designer dresses according to the latest fashion, agencies also need to be at the cutting-edge.
8. Choose an account executive or a project responsible person whom you have feeling with. Build a peer relationship up and make sure he/she understands your objectives or goals, necessities and priorities. A methodology that leads towards accomplishing objectives is important, but a flexible person who adapts to your circumstances also matter.
9. If the agency does not have a good working environment, their work will not be very inspiring and the most adversely affected party will be your brand. There is no need for table football or an Instagram account full of smiles to guess whether a team is happy or if it is being systematically exploited. The corporate culture of your agency has to be, at least, compatible with that of your company.
10. Size does not matter, compatibility does. Look for an agency that suits your company, your management capacities and your team’s dimension. All agencies can be wonderful, big, independent, small… It will depend on what you need and what you work more comfortable with. Closing later in the evening, working more during the weekends, or being more creative, witty or specialized in technical aspects does not make a digital agency better. Our formula, here at INNN is clear: brain, heart and muscle.
Avoid gurus, focus on real references and on the agency’s portfolio.
On your side (if you are brand or advertiser)
1. Before you get in touch with any agency, ask yourself this question: What am I looking for? The first briefing shared with your agency has to be that of your needs as an advertiser. In this post by Report Garden they explain it perfectly.
2. Be patient, not forever, but let the agency do its job. You already know the work done in marketing, advertising and digital communication is hard. Everybody seems to have something to say, everybody seems to know everything. Your agency, until it is proved otherwise, is the best agency in the world and they are the experts. If you trust them, they will work better and will obtain superior results. Results for you, by the way.
3. Read the whole agency proposal. You can fight the temptation of directly (or only) reading the price. Every agency is going to offer you something different, do not compare the incomparable. Of course you need to stick to your budget, but as the poet Antonio Machado said, “only a fool thinks price and value are the same” ;). Try to get the most you can with your budget, but do not ask for the impossible. The worst part of asking for the impossible is that someone tells you he/she can give it to you… Giving the impossible is that, impossible.
4. Related with that, set out feasible objectives and feasible periods. The communications manager or responsible of an intelligent brand values his/her agency not only because of the price or the fact that they meet the deadlines but because of the quality and results of their work.
5. Analyze your own capacity and that of your team. Very often, a limited answering capacity, a lack of information and/or training, and poor organization on the part of the client can spoil the agency’s work.
6. However, in other situations (more every time) you will know more about certain topics than the agency does. Especially about one: your product and your brand. This is not about saying “yes” to everything without questioning the agency, but neither means to be questioning and examining them all the time. If confidence and transparency is mutual, none of the parties will hesitate when having to say the three beautiful words, “I do not know”.
7. Is the agency’s location important to you? Nowadays, more and more agencies work kilometers away from their advertisers. Here at INNN, we use to do it. To work remotely gives you the chance to consider a wider range of agencies to work with, maybe because there is not an agency within your budget in your city or just to be able to work with your dreamed team. Skype, Hangouts, Google Drive (or the high-speed rail AVE) are powerful allies. However, if you prefer to have your agency sitting in your desk in less than 45 minutes, the best option is to choose something more local.
8. Team up. Working in mutual understanding with your agency can give you so much joy. You will learn from a motivated team, you will be able to bring yourself up to date, and you will break out of your daily routine. Advertiser-agency creative meetings, if based on confidence and without judging or assessing anybody, are one of the most enriching experiences that we have had in our agency. Oh, but if your idea is to rummage in the agency “drawers” to find the weapon with which they last ruined a client...it will be complicated that your relationship flows.
9. Think about what is best for your brand, not for you. If you are a very motivated person and you love using your agency to learn, do research or carry out projects that you can fall in love with, do not forget that they are a very valuable resource (therefore, expensive) that has to be, always, at the service of your brand and its objectives. This does not mean that you cannot enjoy the ride…
10. Probably, your company staff is divided into different projects. It is difficult to find an agency that works in the 100% areas of digital marketing that a brand will require. Dividing SEM, SEO, networks, branding, Inbound Marketing or contents into different agencies can be an interesting and enriching option to choose. However, also expensive and sometimes disperse and not so operational. Think consciously about your co-workers pool and the pros and cons of a trustworthy partner agency or multiple suppliers.
If you have reached this point, I think you already trust in our good INNNtentions, so I can allow myself a little self-advertisement (we live from this) of our latest and “splendid” SEO, brand digitalization and marketing data analytics products. By the way, do not write us before taking all these tips into account, ok?