5 Ways to Improve the Value of Your Agency Partnership
April 25, 2023
Hiring a marketing agency is an investment in your business’s growth, and like any investment, you want to maximize your return. This return is based on the value your agency can create for you. To ensure success, there are five effective ways to get more value from your agency that are often overlooked.
While price, experience, and expertise are important qualifiers, prospective clients rarely ask about these five ways. However, when we ask clients why they’re leaving their current agency, the answer typically falls into one or more of these points.
Let’s explore these five ways to get the most value from your agency.
1. Make sure there is a documented, thoughtful strategy in place
I listed this one first for a reason: modern agencies have become so tactics-focused that they completely blow right past the strategic piece that makes marketing successful.
You have to have a detailed process in place for planning a marketing strategy before you can execute individual tactics with any success.
If an agency says they specialize in SEO or social media, make sure to ask them how that fits into the strategy they’re proposing for your company. If you don’t like their answer, it may be time to end the conversation right then and there.
Higher organic search rankings or more engagement on your social media accounts may not directly achieve your business goal, or improve your bottom line.
They have to be part of an overarching strategy that includes the following:
- Summary of your current situation
- Specific results that will improve it
- How you’re going to get those results
- How you’re going to track performance
For example, if you’re not producing enough qualified leads to hit your sales goals, higher SEO rankings will only solve one part of that problem. Do you have trackable phone numbers in place to measure the true effectiveness of your SEO campaign?
If your landing pages aren’t optimized for conversion, and you don’t have a 24/7 live chat, this will cause the majority of that increased organic traffic to leak off your page (and likely to a competitor’s).
These are all just a few of the strategic components you have to have in place before you launch any marketing initiative.
Strategy equals value, and if your marketing agency can’t support their tactics with a well-defined strategy, your relationship won’t be successful.
2. Ask how proactive they are about bringing new ideas to the table
As marketers, we’ve never had more data to work with. Technology has advanced to the point where we gain invaluable insights into campaign performance, and allows us to understand our target audiences better than ever before.
So the question becomes: What is your agency doing with all this data?
If the answer doesn’t include offering up new ideas to improve your marketing strategy, then you need to be asking a different agency the question.
Ideas are the currency that your agency uses to purchase success metrics. Leveraging data the right way can help your marketing take off and catapult you ahead of the competition.
Make sure you’re partnering with an agency that has a demonstrated track record of creating and executing ideas that lead to success.
3. Hold their feet to the fire to produce the best possible creative
Creativity is your secret weapon when it comes to marketing. If you can’t out-spend your competition, then you have to “out-creative” them.
Your agency’s creative process has to push you to position your company as a best-in-class differentiator with value propositions that are absolutely unique in your space.
Otherwise, it’s just you and the competition saying the same thing and the highest budget wins.
When you bring something unique to your customers, whether it’s your actual product or service, or if it’s the experience you offer while delivering it, it has to be expressed in a creative way to compel your audience to take action.
If you’re concerned that your creative is missing the mark, your agency’s response should be A/B testing to let the data do the talking. If your agency doesn’t regularly perform tests to fine-tune performance, that could be a sign that your creative isn’t dialed in and needs to be reassessed.
And creativity in marketing isn’t just flashy images and video, it’s the words that tie all those visuals together.
If copywriting isn’t one of your agency’s core competencies, there’s a strong chance they’re producing creative that’s not performing to its full potential.
Some agencies are creative-first, but lack the processes and expertise to channel it into business success. Sure, it looks cool, but did it drive any leads?
Others are so focused on the technical aspects of marketing that their creative components are an afterthought and therefore get ignored by their target audience. What good is an optimized social media ad campaign if it has an abysmal conversion rate because it lacks creative flare?
Make sure your agency is balancing both to ensure consistent and predictable results.
4. Have a clear understanding of their process for managing costs
This is a big one, as no one likes surprises when it comes to invoices. Different agencies utilize different cost structures, and it’s important to know, in writing, how your agency will manage their time and fees.
Some may be retainer-based, others project-based, and then you have agencies that just bill by the hour. There’s also combinations of these structures that some agencies will use, such as retainer with per-hour overages.
Whichever one your agency uses, make sure you have it in writing and fully understand how you’ll be billed, and what will happen if your projects go over-budget.
Without this understanding, your agency may deliver terrific results, but because of their process, may also have over-invested you in any given tactic without your consent.
This happens with paid traffic campaigns that aren’t set to stop delivering after certain thresholds, or not clearly communicating what’s in scope and out of scope for a new initiative.
Bonus tip: make sure to ask about their policy on change orders so you understand how things will be handled if you ask for changes to your projects midstream.
5. Talk to key members of your project team before moving forward
In some cases, you’ll be spending more time working with your agency team than your own co-workers.
That’s why it’s so important to get a feel for the entire project team, not just the one or two agency reps that you meet during the pitch phase.
It’s not uncommon for agency principals to work with you at the beginning of the relationship, only to dip out once things are up and running.
At that point, you have to cross your fingers that you’ll enjoy working with their team as much as them, and also that they’ll be as familiar with your project and goals as much as the original team.
The bottom line is that we like working with people that we actually like, and if you don’t know those people when you partner with an agency, you may be setting yourself, and your team, up for an unpleasant surprise.
As ad spends continue to increase at unprecedented rates year-over-year, the value you’re getting from your agency partner has never been more important.
I hope these tips help you get the most out of your agency partnership, and we’ll continue to post content on this topic based on observations from working with our clients at BroadBased.
If you’re interested in sharing some feedback from your experience working with agencies, get in touch and we’ll include it in our next post.