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What to look for in an agency: Part II

By August 13, 2020No Comments

A couple of weeks ago, we published a “Part I” of a blog post asking two of the newest Clarity Quest hires, Lindsay Groth and Melanie Hilliard, about what to look for in an agency. Here is that interview, continued. 

Question 2: How do you evaluate the culture of the agency and determine if it will be a good fit or not? 

Lindsay Groth: In my last position, I chose cultural fit over expertise because of where they were on their marketing journey. In a past role, leadership really bought into marketing so we went with a major firm whose expertise was brand strategy and messaging. 

As part of the bidding & evaluating process, I looked for case studies, how questions were answered on strategy & messaging, lead gen & digital marketing

Lastly, the relationship the agency has with your leadership team is very important. I can tell you from experience, I was new in my marketing role and I wanted to change vendors, but because of the relationship that existed with the C-suite, it was a moot point. This relationship is a major key to agency retention. 

Melanie Hilliard: A smart approach is to look for hard data in terms of the success of the agency and what they could potentially do for you and your business. A case study library is a great place to start. If an agency can show how they helped other clients increase revenue or grow their lead generation program, that’s a great sign. 

Increasing the number of incoming leads is on the top of every B2B company’s wishlist right now. That’s one of the many aspects that impressed me about Clarity Quest. We have an extensive case study library that shows how we have grown our clients’ companies.

An agency team that is going to have a good rapport with your CEO should also be prioritized. If in that first discovery meeting, the agency is not getting along with your CEO, you’re already at a disadvantage, and that agency may not be a good fit.

Also, include any c-level person who will be involved in marketing decisions of consequence. While they may only weigh in 10% of the time, if they don’t feel part of the decision-making process, and are not on board with the marketing strategy, it may not be the right time to engage an agency. 

Question 3: How do you effectively engage the agency?

MH:  Having a structured approval process where everybody is on the same page about what those steps look like is key. The chain of command, from the coordinator to the CEO, has to be transparent so nothing falls through the cracks. 

LG: My experience differs a little bit in that I have been very fortunate to have leaders who trusted my team and me to go do the work, make decisions, and see the project through to completion without too much involvement. 

When we achieved a milestone, I would bring leadership and the agency together for a check-in. Typically those milestones required broader buy-in anyway. As I said, I have been fortunate to have leaders who trusted my team and me and knew I would bring them in when there was something to share. 

MH: One of my biggest pet peeves is typos. As a former director of marketing, when my team would review agencies, if I saw a typo in a pitch or the initial presentation, they were out! However, to be fair, if you ask your agency to move the pitch or proposal up by three days, you have to be a bit more forgiving if you do see minor typos. 

LG: Laughing because I am one of those who has presented something with a typo, hoping they would be forgiving. I have learned my lesson and send it to a teammate for a second set of eyes.

If you missed Part I of “What to look for in an agency,” you can find that blog post here.

Chris Slocumb

Author Chris Slocumb

Chris is the founder of Clarity Quest Marketing and Chief Growth Officer of Supreme Group. To learn more about Chris' experiences and qualifications, visit our leadership team page.

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