There comes a point in every business’s history that management realizes their team could use a little outside help with marketing. Whether you work for a local manufacturer and are a “one-man” team or have a special project like creating a mobile app, chances are there will be a time when you or your team need some outside help completing a project or refining a strategy.
For many businesses, marketing firms and agencies have been the answer to this need for outside help and specialize in everything from website development & SEO to content marketing & strategies. At VIG, we’ve had a number of clients come to us with stories of how they’ve partnered with agencies that haven’t been the right fit for their company and how their relationship didn’t work out as expected.
To help set you on the right track, we had our team put together our top tips for selecting the digital marketing agency/firm that’s right for you.
Process Is Key
It doesn’t matter if you’re building a website or rebranding your company, partnering with an outside firm that has a clearly defined process that starts with a solid discovery phase is essential. As a potential client shopping around for help with your next project, it’s important to partner with an agency that is willing to sit down and fully understand your goals and objectives.
The best agencies/firms will take a considerable amount of time to get to know you, your company, and the common challenges or “pain points” you deal with on a daily basis. By understanding the who, what, where, why, and how of your project, the agency will be able to develop a stronger strategy moving forward and tailor their process to meet your unique needs.
No one process will successfully apply to all project types but before you look at a proposal or quote from a firm it’s important that firm understands your needs well. If a firm simply puts together a proposal for you after a 15-minute phone call and tries to upsell you on a few additional services, don’t walk, run!
The best firms will see this initial project as a starting off point for communication and look to build a solid relationship with you in the future. With that relationship will come a series of projects and processes that will be aimed at achieving your goals at a project level but also help you attain your long-term goals as well.
Do Your Homework
When looking for your next digital marketing agency, it’s important to research their capabilities, portfolio, and understand their niche or area of specialization. Most agencies you research will be able to perform a range of marketing related tasks including graphic design, managing social media, and basic SEO as well.
When reviewing an agency’s website or sitting down and talking with their team, it’s important to understand what area they specialize in and how they stand out compared to other agencies. Many agencies will claim to do it all and offer you “one-stop shop” for all of your needs. For some agencies, this may be the case.
For many others, the agency will have a core list of services they specialize in and stand out from their competitors. For VIG, our niche is technology. From custom business solutions such as intranets with digital libraries, mobile applications for sales teams, and even customer relationship management platforms (CRMs), we excel far beyond other agencies in the area.
Even though we perform many of the functions of a full marketing agency, our area of expertise is technology. The same principle applies to other agencies as well. Partnering with an agency that has significant experience performing the work you’re looking for (Mobile Apps, websites, SEO) will help save you money and headaches in the future and also deliver a better result overall.
In-House Solutions vs. Contractors
An ongoing challenge for firms and agencies that offer a wide range of services to their clients is managing talent in-house. Essentially where a growing number of agencies are struggling is being able to keep experienced experts on staff to complete projects that are outside of their day-to-day services.
For example, most agencies will have graphic designers, copywriters, a digital marketing director, and maybe even an SEO guru on staff for their day-to-day operations. Based on the requests of their customers, they may turn to outside help for more technical projects like building websites and mobile apps.
While this is okay in theory, this usually causes a lot of unnecessary extra headaches, emails, and costs for the end clients. To get jobs done on time and on budget, agencies will subcontract work out to local freelancers, experts in other countries, or even send work to other agencies that specialize in that field.
This usually ends up in added costs for your project, delayed timelines, and potentially ending up with an end product you’re not satisfied with. To make sure your project is completed as expected, you need to research the agency and make sure they have the team members on staff to handle what you’re looking for in-house and not from an outside source.
Have Clear Goals, Objectives, & Needs
This usually goes without saying but is so important that it warrants addressing in a blog. Having clearly defined goals, objectives and needs is essential to choosing the right agency for you. It not only helps select the right agency with the knowledge, experience, and experts on staff, but it also helps keep the project on track and on budget.
For example, going to an agency with the goal of rebuilding your website is a great first step. But to ensure the project scope and proposal doesn’t quickly get derailed, you need to have more refined goals and needs. You might want a new website that allows you to easily make changes, one that is responsive to mobile devices, or one that just has a fresh look and feel.
Sitting yourself down and asking yourself the who, what, where, why, and how of your project before reaching out to an agency will give you a clearer picture of what needs to be done and why. This will help you to ask more prepared questions when you do sit down during a discovery phase and allow you to gain a better sense of where you are and where you need to be.
Partnering with your next advertising or marketing agency can be a little overwhelming. From thinking about your project and your specific needs to researching different agencies in your area, the process from start to finish can seem almost too big to tackle. At VIG, we’ve worked with professionals just like you and walked them through the entire project to help them achieve their goals and deliver solutions to grow their businesses.
If you’re thinking about putting together a new project and aren’t sure where to start, Think VIG!