Due diligence in an agency search is critical to the ultimate success of a great marketing agency partnership.

I spent my entire last Saturday (and a good part of Monday) scouring nearly 250 websites for a search we’re managing for a credit union out West.

It was painful.

My eyes were popping out of my head.  But it was necessary.

My next step is to send the 20 or so agencies that appear to meet the criteria of what we’re looking for, pre-qualifying questions to dive down a bit deeper.

From there, we’ll push out our RFI and select the top 3 that make the most sense to move forward with into a final pitch presentation.

I share this only because I’ve seen too many marketers take too many short-cuts when trying to find a new firm.

Or pay out the nose only to see the same group of a dozen agencies show up in every major search – when there are hundreds of great agencies that are overlooked.

When searching for a new marketing agency, you have to do your due diligence.

This means:

  1. Take an inventory of what you want out of your new firm
  2. Take an inventory of all those agencies that have called you or emailed you over the past year
  3. Do a search for firms (here is a site you can use to find digital agencies: digital agencies
  4. And then think of the 3-4 things that are critical for your new agency to possess – and push those questions out to them.

Once you get past this stage, then it’s time for the RFI.

I’m a big believer in asking the tough questions in the RFI.

Not just the functional questions about size and the things they do…but rather:

  1. What have they done?
  2. Have they dealt with problems/challenges like yours?
  3. Where do they see the industry going?
  4. What and how can they help given changes in the market?

The more you can do upfront, the better your output on the back-end.

If you short-change the effort in the early stages of your search, you’ll likely pay for it later on.

So take your time, be critical in your evaluation, and remember there are gems out there…they just need to be found.