To find an agency that understands you inside and out, look past cost and reputation - look for value

Few decisions are as important in your business as finding the right agency to partner with. Choose wisely, and a partner can help your business reach extraordinary heights; choose poorly, and you can bleed time, money, and resources with little to show for it. Just ask the 65 percent of high-potential startups that failed as a result of partner conflict. When the stakes are that high, how do you make such a crucial decision? That's the dilemma BMW is currently facing. In October, it announced it was starting a U.S. agency review. Whether it decides to stay with its incumbent agency or find a fresh partner remains to be seen, but it brings to light the importance of evaluating all the options. [si_guide_block id="74955" title="Download FREE Resource – Agency digital marketing services – the top…

Choosing a conversion optimisation agency is a major businesses decision, here's how to choose the right partner

It’s great that you’ve made the decision to start a Conversion Optimisation programme but the hard part is deciding which agency deserves your investment. So where do you start? This post will give you a few key areas to help with your selection process to ensure you end up with the right partner for successful optimisation. 

1. Chemistry

CIC Chemistry Show by David Carroll. Flickr

Arguably the most important questions are, ‘who are they?’ and ‘can we work with them?’ You are likely to be spending the best part of a year working with your chosen agency, so first and foremost you need to like them as people. Ideally you should arrange to meet with the strategist(s) you’ll primarily be working with, at the pitching…

10 essential requirements when selecting a new marketing agency

Selecting an agency from a short list - using the scorecard and transparent process

In the first post in this series I outlined 8 options to shortlist alternative marketing agencies as part of the process of managing pitches to select an agency. In this post, I look at the next step, covering 10 steps or requirements, that in my experience, help make the pitching process run smoothly and help towards selecting the best agency.

These tips support using the agency selection scorecard we have developed to help marketers review potential agency partners on both a qualitative and quantitative basis as part of the pitching process. You'll see that some of the evaluation criteria are more relevant to initial short listing whilst others are more relevant to a detailed pitch evaluation.

We have kept all criteria on one…

8 techniques to choose the right marketing agencies to pitch to you

This article supports the Smart Insights agency selection template. The template helps businesses with the next step in the process, which is using a scorecard to help you choose the best agency when several are pitching to you. This workbook details a range of selection criteria which you’ll glean during either desk research, due diligence stage and/or at face to face meetings with an agency (either ‘chemistry’ meetings or pitch presentations). In the first part of this article I suggest how you can pull together a short list of potential agency partners.  In a follow-up article I will look at approaches to running the actual selection or pitch process. I say ‘or’ because you don’t necessarily need to run a full-blown pitch process (which can be very time consuming for both you and the agencies involved) for smaller projects or where an…

Innovation doesn’t happen when you’re taking orders from a client. It happens when your agency and your client work together to build something groundbreaking and different. And that’s where every agency sets out to be: on the cutting edge of new ideas and trends.

Today, thriving agencies aren’t just selling their clients marketing tactics; they’re helping them solve business problems, too. But first, you have to build an open, trusting relationship with your client so he will follow you when you pose an original, creative solution to a problem.

The advantages of business savvy

So, how can you begin to earn the kind of client relationships you’re looking for? You have to start by earning your clients’ trust and the first people to begin to build that relationship are the ones communicating with them every day: your Account Executives. It’s not enough for your Account Executives to simply be good communicators,…

6 tips for a successful agency partnership

Over the last 7 years, I've had experience of working with various different traditional and digital marketing agencies. Whilst one agency’s skill set may differ from another, what I have found to be consistent is the way in which many agencies operate and how clients can get the best from a working relationship with them. Working with a marketing agency should be a collaborative relationship. With digital marketing moving at such a frightening pace, it’s important to work closely with an agency and allow them to provide strategic insight and know-how whilst acting as an extension of the client’s in-house team. In this post I’d like to share a few thoughts on how you, as a client, can establish a productive working relationship with your digital marketing agency so you can... 1. Set out your goals and…

Part 3 of "Life's a Pitch"

In previous posts in this series I wrote about my experiences of managing the agency to client pitch process and writing a creative brief. In the final part of the series I look at issues to consider when selecting the preferred agency. It is not uncommon for clients to go about the pitch process in a less than ideal way, with problematic outcomes including having to ask agencies to re-pitch, or even not choosing any agencies. Like many, I have experienced such issues on a number of occasions.  A recent example of this would be with a cosmetic surgery brand, who invited us to a 3-way pitch, for their new hair transplant business. We thought we'd done a good job; were told it was “the best agency pitch I’ve seen in 30 years” etc and then we waited…  And we waited…  And we waited… After 2 weeks…

New Media Age Top 100 UK interactive agencies

Value: [rating=3] Recommended link: New Media Age - Top 100 Interactive Agencies 2012 (Digital Magazine Download) In this alert, relevant to larger UK companies who commission larger agencies, we’re flagging up the publication of this annual listing of digital agencies. It’s broken down into categories of marketing, technical and design and build agencies plus media buying agencies varying in fee income from £92 million for Sapient Nitro to £2.8 million for Unboxed Consulting. A new feature this year was this regional breakdown, showing leading agencies outside London and the South East: Also relevant to agencies and consultants who can see the fast growing sectors, an interesting KPI is efficiency which is income/staff - the best performers are around the £285,000/team member level. The report shows strong growth in performance in many agencies…

If you're thinking of hiring an SEO or are an SEO - this is a must browse

Earlier in January, you may have seen a useful piece of research completed by SEOmoz that looked into the costs and service structure of SEO agencies. I've included that below, but the main reason for this post is to alert you to this excellent summary by Dan Barker (one of our Expert commentators) which features the UK and, in my opinion, is far clearer and so useful. You can checkout the full post and research on SEOmoz here. Turning to the UK data, from Dan, the most interesting for me, which prompts questions you should ask of your agency are... What services do you provide? Surprisingly few do content creation or promotion - surely a core 2012 SEO technique. A surprising number don't provide link-building recommendations What charging models do you use? Fixed price is offered by 51.9%, so…

Life’s A Pitch (Part 2 of 3): Writing a decent creative brief

Most people find writing a creative immensely difficult and more often than not, people make a bad job of it. This is designed to be helpful advice for all, regardless of whether you’re new to writing briefs or you’ve been in the industry for years.  Like countless peers, I’ve spent years writing briefs.  Moreover, in my various new business roles, I’ve received and written a vast amount of potential client/pitch briefs.  In such instances, the brief is obviously the key to getting it right. Whilst it’s important for agency-side parties to be usefully inquisitive, the work you receive will be a reasonable reflection of the brief you provide in the first place (i.e. get the brief wrong and the work represented will likely be shit).  So with that in mind, here’s a simple guide to what that brief should consist of. …

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