Key to a successful agency search is focus.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to get distracted in today’s “always on” world.
And it’s equally as easy to not keep your agency search focused when there are so many possibilities out there.
Search “Advertising Agency in Cincinnati” (where we’re located) and in addition to the 7 Google Ads that are served to you (many of which aren’t from agencies in Cincinnati), you get listings for things like:
- “Top Advertising Agencies in Cincinnati“
- “21 Best Cincinnati Agencies“
- “Top 100 Digital Marketing Companies in Cincinnati“
Among many more.
It’s a confusing and can be a frustrating exercise if you don’t know where to start.
Ok, so you ask, “Where do you begin and how do you keep your Agency Search focused?”
The first thing you need to do to get your agency search focused is define the scope of what you’re looking for. Here is a sample Scope of Search document we created for a recent marketing client of ours who was looking for a new agency.
I suggest you start with a small pool of agencies – maybe select those that show up in a Google search. In your search, try and be as specific as you can be.
For example, if you’re looking for a new agency that has hospital experience, search for “Hospital Marketing Agency” to start narrowing down your search and giving it some measure of focus.
If the agency is showing up on the first or second page, they must be doing something right with their own SEO, which portends well for the work they could do for you.
The next thing you should do is scour their site. Look for things like:
- Depth of category experience as represented in their case studies.
- Success metrics. Are their marketing programs moving the needle for their clients?
- Breadth of talent. Do they have a head of strategy? How deep is their digital bench? Of course, it all depends on what your needs are, which will dictate what you’re looking for, but you want to know that the agency has the bench strength to help you accomplish your goals.
The caution here is that sometimes what you see on an agency’s site doesn’t reflect the true reality of their agency today – so be careful. Some of the work might be old, some of it could be work from previous agencies. You need to understand these things. Which leads to our next step in the process: Q&A and Interviews.
Once you have a short-list of agencies, the next thing you want to do is start asking the tough questions.
You don’t want to waste your time on the phone with them until you get some of the basics answered. Craft 4-5 questions that you can send to each agency that will help you better refine and focus your search.
What I suggest at this point is to ask questions about their experience solving the problems you have, questions about their “real” depth of experience in your category, questions about their technical expertise.
Once you get these answers, you can pick the 2-3 agencies you think are the favorites and set up time to talk with them or invite them in (or in virtually) for a presentation.
Prior to the call or presentation, give the agencies some information about your challenges and ask them to come in and not only share their capabilities, but also specifically show you how they’ve solved similar challenges for their clients.
Keeping your agency search focused is hard. Everybody has an opinion or an agency they’ve worked with in the past. When I manage searches for my marketing clients, I occasionally get agencies sent my way to consider. More often than not, they don’t fit the scope at all.
Define and focus your scope. Focus your initial search. Zero in on the agency’s capabilities, expertise, and experience. Keep them focused when they present to you giving them a very tight statement of what you want to see from them.
Focus and you’ll end up with a much better outcome!
Always happy to help. So, if you need a new agency for a project or for a full-on AOR, we can help. We know how to focus and create lasting partnerships between agencies and marketers. Give us a shout!