Finding a new agency is tricky business, even in the best of times.

Now that we’re only occasionally seeing people live and in the flesh, one would think that now isn’t the best time to be looking for a new marketing agency.

And given so many agencies are hurting because of budget cuts and personnel cuts, one would think that finding good agencies that are financially stable is no easy task. Reality is, now is a great timeto be looking for a new firm.  But only if you do it right.

Here are some guidelines you can follow if you think your business is deserving (or more importantly, in need of) a new marketing agency.

Know what you need
Simply having a general level of disatisfaction with your current agency, but not being able to effectively articulate your pain points or needs will make it hard to find a new firm, no matter what the current health or economic climate is.  The more specific you can be, the more successful you’ll be in finding and vetting firms during a search.

Be flexible
While you might think that finding an agency that is exclusively dedicated to your industry is a good thing, having an agency with all their eggs in one basket can be problematic.  Just look at agencies with all their eggs in the travel/tourism, or restaurant basket.  Who would have thought they’d be in the position they’re in, right now.  Find an agency that has experience in your sector, but is nicely diversified across sectors.  It’s highly likely that agencies like this are in better shape financially and can weather the next storm that comes their way.

Embrace & assess technology
I find that using Zoom makes the experience of working with people more intimate.  Sitting in large room having agencies present to you is somewhat of an artificial, less personal experience.  Use the situation we’re in as a way of testing the agencies you’re reviewing.  What do they propose as the best way to communicate with you?  When they present, are they organized?  Do they have a mastery of the technology.  I fully realize that just “knowing how to use Zoom” doesn’t paint a picture of just how technologically savvy an agency is, but if they can’t master it, or they can’t present to you in an organized and thoughtful manner, you might want to question the viability of the firm.  I always say to agencies during searches, “The way you look today, is a reflection of how you’ll operate tomorrow”.  So, if an agency’s team isn’t well prepared, they trip over technology, or simply don’t take the process seriously, they might not be the best firm for you.

Ask the right questions upfront
If you do your homework upfront and decide what it is you need and what it is you’re looking for, you’ll be in a much better position at the end of the day.  The first thing you want to do is organize a larger group of agencies to reach out to.  Maybe those that have called or emailed you, those you find when you do a search, or those you find in some industry directory.  The more specific you can get in the questions you ask agencies to pre-qualify them, the better your search will be.  Assume that they all have the basic deliverables most/many agencies have, and focus your questions on the challenges they’ve faced that will parellel the challenges facing your business.  Starting there will put you in a better place than simply finding out if “they do digital”.

These are just a handful of things you should consider when looking for a new firm.  Today can be the right time.  In fact, if your agency isn’t putting you in a position for success when we walk out of this situation or you don’t feel like they’re equipped to do it, don’t wait until we find our way out.  That might simply be too late.

If you need help or want to talk through any of this, feel free to give me a call (513-293-6785) or email me at msneider@rswagencysearch.com.