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How to Hire and Manage An Agency for Marketers Part 1

Agency

Prologue:

In today’s ever-evolving business world, you can’t ignore the advent of new technology especially if you’re a marketing professional working in corporate or agency. Its power to reach & keep millions of audience has gone way beyond than common marketing. Though, it’s not a new term in other countries. Bangladesh is observing a surge in marketing agencies who are operating in digital space.

But, the purpose of hiring an agency has been pretty much the same. You hire a marketing agency to connect your brand with customers how, when & where they want. It’s all about engaging more customer, creating brand recognition & building a competitive edge. Before starting, let me tell you something about myself & why I am writing this. Well, I have been on both sides. By creating & managing multiple brands and working for start-ups & large corporates to managing own agency. Catering clients from both start-up, mid-sized enterprise & international brand. Rest you can find from my profile section.

Why am I writing this? I found gaps in understanding the GOAL, COMMUNICATION & ACHIEVEMENT between “The Client Side” & “The Agency Side” from my own experience & personal studies. Every side is true to their own interest & that is fine!

Though in reality, there are misconception & misunderstanding about client & agency relationship. As I trust the quote: “Knowing is Believing”, I wanted to write a series of article about the relationship. Guide & tips for Marketers & Agency people, so they can use their own resource & get benefitted by reading the series. Oh, I wanted to write this for long!

What to Cover? For Whom? > Marketers

Agency
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Since I have managed the client-agency relationship in my previous stint. That includes selecting a new agency, negotiating a contract & managing compensation and day to day project with them. We are going to cover these three points throughout the series.

· How to define your objectives for hiring a digital agency.

· The process of building a selection team.

· How to create a great RFP (Request for Proposal).

These points are for mid to top marketing professionals. Entry level marketers can also get a good idea of managing an agency from these series. when they will ramp up in a higher position or working as a core contact point for marketing agencies for their employers.

I will also share the best practices of the selection process, choosing the best digital agency & executing the contract. You will get a clear action plan for hiring an agency for your business.

As I said before this series is for the senior marketers. But, this will be beneficial for business owners, procurement & finance executives & communication specialist. Anyone who manages agency relationship within their job scope. I hope you will be able to match many things from your existing experience. You should be able to enhance your future experience with the tool or practice I am going to share.

Understanding agency landscape

If you have never worked in an agency or with an agency partner, you might not feel like you understand what an agency does? Why do they exist? What influence agencies & the team who work there and how an agency can help you to build your brand & business?

Before hiring an agency, it’s imperative to understand the agency world. What is a marketing or digital marketing agency? From Dina Shapiro, an agency veteran & communication expert:

“An agency is a team that works in partnership with their client to augment and compliment the client’s internal capabilities & resources.”

An agency fills your internal gaps and helps you build your brand and improve your marketing. How?

Because,

The agencies have expertise, insight, experience & resource that
you do not have inside your company.

They know how to plan, measure and optimize digital efforts across all the brand’s marketing points. These points can be a website, your social media channel, offline brick & mortar store, mobile device, email etc.

For example, you have launched a new product or services & ready to expand, but not sure how to plan & execute that. An agency outside of your company payroll can help you launch into new markets and grow your business.

There’s a common misconception that an agency will work with any client to get their new business. After all who doesn’t want to earn money while sitting idle? But that’s not actually true.

What motivate agencies for work for a client?

Agency
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

First, they need a fair & reasonable compensation. No one will work for you because you are offering them “Exposure” for free services.

Agencies want to earn money & expand their business. But a good agency knows that if the compensation is too high. The relationship with the client will be short lived & they might lose a good retainer. Because the client will not be able to maintain a healthy budget in every quarter/year.

It’s sometimes easy to trick your way into client’s pocket if you’re coming up with a new digital product. But, the agencies lose. Because they will have to leave with their clients’ money. Also the relationship & trust they had built over time.

So, if the agency is underpaid, they will not be able to continue the relationship as well. That can turn into an inconsistent brand experience for the product.

Second, the agency’s ability to do outstanding work. As a matter of fact, not all agencies are a full-service digital agency. There are boutique agencies with the limited range of services. But they are very capable to pull specific niche services. Such as SEO Agency, Video Content Marketing Agency, and Display Ad Agency etc.

Boutique or Full-Service, every good agency generally has several companies as working partner. Those Who can complement clients work & add more value by their specific skill.

For example, a web design & development agency can partner with an SEO agency to provide service. Even, most of the time they are able to offer a combined affordable price to the client.

So, what is outstanding works?
They are the ones that generate
solid value for the client.

They get awards & commendable press release. Great work makes clients to give agency more work. Which in turn attracts more clients to the agency & generates successful case studies.

Third, agencies want to work with awesome clients.

Who are awesome clients? They are someone who wants to do world-class marketing. They work in partnership with the agency. While NOT treating them like a mere service provider or marketing vendor.

It’s also client’s job to motivate & appreciate agency employees. You will want to keep the agency people engaged with your brand. So they see you as a great client and deliver things as per your expectation.

Research shows that awesome clients are sometimes called as “Clients of Choice”. Often they are a big brand, but most of the times, brands with great marketers who are good at business. We see, often the best agencies compete to work on their business. Additionally, these “Clients of Choice” also get extra service, they do not always pay for. Because the agency thinks it as a future investment. These extra services may not be a full-fledged campaign plan. But, they could share important market insight & report that you may need to build your brand strategy further.

Building long-term success

Agency
Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

It’s important to test agency performance, but I will talk about that later. The client should focus on building last long relationship with an agency. If it’s short-lived then the user-experience of customer become inconsistent. It’s also pretty expensive & time-consuming to hiring & onboarding new agencies.

There are a couple of local & international example. Those agencies built a successful long-term relationship with the client’s brand. While driving their business success together. Because the right agency is not a supplier, but your partner in success. They keep committed to the cause. Because they believe, your business growth will bring their business growth as well.

Over the next series, I will cover, how a digital agency works. How knowing about different perspective can help you to build great client-agency relationship. And the top reasons to hire a digital/marketing agency. Let’s wait a bit while for the Part 2.

These insights are from my real life experience, studies from case research & lecture from industry veteran, namely: Jay Bayer, Dina Shapiro, Sean Adams & others. I am fortunate enough to get in touch with some of them directly & consider their little guidance as invaluable learning in my work.

The article was first published on Medium.

If you’re interested to read more article, visit: www.jmustafa.com, ask me questions in junayedmustafa@gmail.com or hello@jmustafa.com. I also keep a range of marketing tool & guide at my disposal & always happy to share these with fellow marketers & entrepreneurs.

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