Whether you run a small, medium, or large company, choosing the right agency to represent your firm is no small feat. This choice can be made all the more difficult if your company is headquartered in a bustling metropolis the size of Toronto. In spite of the sheer volume of agencies vying for your business, it’s worth mentioning that not all digital agencies are created equal, nor will one be as effective as the other in communicating your brand. In short, when searching for an agency, don’t settle for the first team you meet; the perfect agency is out there.
To help you narrow down the field, here’s a list of five important considerations to keep top of mind.
Type of Work
In much the same way you wouldn’t hire a plumber to drywall your home, or a paver to install a fireplace, you want to make sure the agency you hire specializes in the type of work you need completed. Do you need a full service agency to optimize your company’s SEO, or are you looking for something a little more niche? Do you need to increase brand recognition via social media? Are you interested in influencer marketing? There’s a firm for that. As you search for that “perfect fit” request to meet the team members who will be doing the work—not only will this provide you with an opportunity to ask specific questions on how they plan to achieve your goals, it will also allow you to gauge the passion and energy they bring to the task.
Location, location, location is not only a mantra applicable to the real estate industry. If you aspire to hire a well-known international agency over a local firm, there are a few caveats of which you should be mindful. The first, is that many of the biggest agencies are often limited to working with companies within major cities in which they have an office. This means that if you’re keen to enlist the services of a company based in London, your Toronto-based business better have a presence across the pond. A second piece of information to consider is that large firms, generally well known for producing excellent work, are incredibly busy. This means that there is a good chance that your account may receive less attention than you feel it deserves. Smaller, local firms on the other hand, are often bustling with young professionals eager to cut their teeth and make their mark. It isn’t unreasonable to expect a more personal touch when dealing with smaller firms, if this is an expectation you have.
In business, cost is as ugly a four-letter word as any, and it may be tempting (particularly for small and medium sized companies) to go with an agency with the lowest price tag. Remember however that cost does not necessarily mean value. Don’t be afraid to ask what you will get for your money and work together so that both sides have a good understanding of how you will gauge your return on investment. The money you spend on a digital agency is an investment in growing your business, and is not an ambiguous void into which you intend to endlessly shovel money. Results matter.
Word of mouth seems like a pretty low-tech way to narrow down your search results, but it can actually be quite effective. Speaking to a colleague or industry partner you know and trust can sway decisions just as easily (if not more so) than a flashy and well-crafted presentation. If you need a bit more convincing, be sure to consider the prospective agency’s reviews from past clients. While some negative reviews are to be expected, it’s important to consider how the agency addressed the negative review. Where the customer’s concerns ignored or do they appear to have been addressed by the agency? If you tire from reading the reviews, you can ask the agency to provide a list of current customers who feel comfortable talking to you. If possible, take the time to make a phone call rather than email—you’ll get a lot more information talking to someone rather than trading communique.
What is their online presence like? Are they active on various social media platforms? Does their website look professional and is it full of useful, current content? If you perform a Google search for agencies in your area, is it among the top results? Your answer to any of these questions could determine whether or not you trust them with your business.
That Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi
If you’re struggling between two or more agencies, sometimes it just comes down to that one intangible thing. All else being equal, what team do you feel complements your business best? Who seems to just “get it”? Think of your interactions with the agencies you’ve met with as a first date. All may seem nice enough, but with which firm would you like to go on a second date with? Sometimes, you just have to trust your gut and choose the agency that clicks.
Developing a relationship with an agency is no easy task. Some firms do excellent work in one specific vertical, but may not fare so well in others. Some may have an excellent reputation, but may fall short in creating a comfortable agency-client relationship. Ultimately, the digital agency you choose should meet all of your needs, provide you with defined return-on-investment parameters, and be responsive to any communication they receive. Remember that a good agency is prepared to address obstacles when they encounter them, but a great agency will have processes in place to see them coming beforehand.