Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Biggest Mistakes Marketers Make Hiring an Agency

Are your marketing programs producing results you love? Finding the right PR, branding, creative advertising or digital marketing partner can be a time-intensive process that can drain internal resources and impact daily business. But the stakes couldn't be higher. The right firm can inject new life into your business; the wrong one can be costly and frustrating. If you go about an agency search the wrong way, you will needlessly waste time, money and energy.

Through my experience managing hundreds of agency reviews, I've seen businesses repeat mistakes that can be easily avoided. If you are considering a search for a new marketing partner, here is some advice:

Thoughtful Timing
In today's fast-paced environment, things change quickly. Product developments, management teams and business pivots can all impact table-stakes. By the time the meeting rolls around with the agency you had in mind, requirements and budgets have shifted and what might have initially been a great fit, is no longer the case given your present situation. Needs change over time. Do not kick off an agency search until you are ready to hire and committed to the initiative and budget.

Shifting Scope and Expectations
What is the real ask? It sounds like such an easy question. You know what you want. However, your CEO may want something else. Getting internal alignment from all key stakeholders can be challenging and rife with politics, yet critical for success. Many clients don't properly communicate their scope-of-work and expectations to the agency, or they keep changing them along the way. Agreeing on what success looks like is the first step. Clearly define expected deliverables and agree on how will success will be measured.

Battling Budgets
What's in the kitty? Have an idea on the budget range that you're committed to spending. Just about any marketing initiative can be can be done at some level, ranging from minuscule budgets to extremely expensive engagements. All agencies have minimums, although in their efforts to "sell" you, they will not likely not share that information. Getting clear on budgets upfront saves time for everyone. Engaging a large agency for a small initiative will ultimately result in a frustrating relationship if your company is one of their smallest clients. Look for recent engagements with similar sized budgets.

The key to success boils down to communicating openly and asking the right questions.

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