There are an abundance of agencies out there and only a handful of them are great. There are different definitions of great and the definition I like to use is if they have your best interests at heart. Because if they do, it’s not about profit and it’s about making sure you’re receiving the best that the market has to offer. At our agency, we refer clients to SEO Partners, Design Agency Partners, Web Development Partners, etc. because we’ve vetted the best and we can proudly refer our clients to them rather than do an average job, burn the client and ruin our reputation. So what are some questions you can ask before choosing your agency?
1. Does your agency know about your business?
When an agency pitches, a lot of the conversation is typically about them. There’s not enough about you and your business. Even if they’ve previously worked with your competitor, they need to be able to present their knowledge of how much they know about your business specifically.
This is important as the person you’re likely to be speaking to in the pitch is not the actual person who will be conducting all the work. The business acumen of the consultant needs to be sound and transferrable to their team. They need to have an understanding of how you make money to be able to help you achieve your goals!
2. What area of digital marketing is your agency’s strength?
Honesty is the best policy. At times, it does make sense to have multiple channels managed by the same agency but if you’re going to get the most value out of your investment, you want the best of the best in each category. Also, if they are all aligned with driving success for you, they will find ways to work together.
Agencies don’t know the quality of their peers work and believe they’re the best at everything. However, they know exactly where their position in the market and where their strengths lie. Find out what those strengths are… (Let’s face it, you’ll never know their weaknesses until it’s too late).
3. What exactly am I paying for and what assurances do I have?
This is normally a part of the conversation that is covered at a “top-level”. They’ll outline what you’re spending money on and that you should see results. It’s really not too much to ask for a full breakdown on where they’re allocating your investment, how they’re translating that into work and that there is proof of that work being conducted. It’s impossible for an agency to give you guarantees however you should be presented with assurances that you’re getting what you pay for.
The clearer the expectations, the happier the relationship will be. Get a good grasp of what the first 3 months will look like. Don’t get locked into a contract without all this being clear!
4. How do you manage communications with your agency?
If not done correctly, your part of the client-agency relationship would feel like the wrong end of a one-night stand. They’ll seem picture-perfect up until the point that they get the sale, find interest in something new and you’ll never hear from that person ever again. Make it a marriage, make it clear by having it in writing; they’ll vow to call/meet you once a week, month or quarter for 15 minutes (Email doesn’t cut it sorry).
Why? Communication is key to ongoing success in digital marketing. As a client, you need a channel to provide feedback on sales/leads, seasonality and general updates on the business. A breakdown in communication can lead to stress on both sides of the client-agency relationship and will typically result in you wasting time & money.
From my experience, I can almost guarantee that in every situation a client has left an agency, it’s because of a lack of communication. Clients have many reasons to leave (results, their rep, etc.) and some less patient than others but I’ve seen agencies that communicate well, missed a delivery on results and are forgiven for their honesty, transparency and accountability. The truth is, you can’t always be winning in this space but nothing should ever come to you as a surprise.
5. Who will be working on my account? I want to meet them.
Saved the best for last. You are most likely being sold by a good looking, well-spoken, sales consultant with what seems like a sound knowledge in Digital Marketing. More often than not, this person is insignificant in the relationship because they’re not the ones executing the work.
Depending on your value to the agency, more often than not, the person working on your account is in their very first job after graduating from University and has little to no experience. By the way, this is perfectly fine if the communication is on point and you are competent enough to know the difference between right and wrong. The only way you’ll get to gauge their ability is by meeting them. Test to see if your goals and details of your business have been communicated from the sales consultant to the implementation team. Do your due diligence and use LinkedIn to do some further research.
It makes complete sense for a digital marketing agency to be profitable and find ways to increase their margin by using offshore or junior talent. Obviously local talent is ideal as they have a stronger understanding of the business landscape, geography and appeal to a local audience. Just understand what works for you and what you’re comfortable with. Know the people behind the scenes and know that you’re in the right hands.
- If applicable, ask for an audit. Take it as an opportunity to test your current agency or find the chance to move to a new one. It’s always good to shop around and get a better understanding of what’s out there. That audit can be used to provide feedback to your current agency or you may find that they’ve been playing you and it’s time for you to move on.
- Don’t have access to your account? That’s a major red flag because how can you be certain that you’ve paid for the impressions or clicks they’ve reported? How do you know if they’ve actually spent money on Google or Facebook last month? Request for your account, even if it’s “view” access or leave immediately.
- Ask if they’re willing to do no contracts. That way they are kept on their toes and have to deliver and it reduces the risk for you as a business.
What do I know about agency?
I’ve worked in the Google Partners team managing over 300 digital agencies across APAC and 4 of the largest in the US. I’ve also worked as a lead within a small, large, and two enterprise-level agencies. Taking those learnings, I’ve started my own agency on the foundation of trust, transparency, and partnership. Being able to contrast and see the differences in the client-agency relationship inspired the above 5 questions.
Kaliber Asia is a performance marketing agency that brings in the global experience that Asia’s top companies are looking for to have an edge over their competitors. Bringing over US$500M worth of performance marketing experience, we have agency experience and consulting experience to help our clients. Why don’t we start by giving you a free audit on your Google Ads?