There’s no denying that the Internet has been birthing new companies every year. With more and more new businesses coming online, many agencies have cropped up to serve these clients.
However, with the proliferation of such agencies, it is essential to separate the wheat from the chaff. Many fly-by-night operators may claim to be experts in the field but lack expertise or experience in any industry.
To avoid being taken in by one such “faffer” group, you need to evaluate the parameters of your ideal agency carefully. As entrepreneurs ourselves, we’ve had to look at our options and assess the value of an agency before making a decision.
Here are some parameters you should consider before finalizing a digital agency.
- Is the agency well versed with the subject?
Every founder or manager should ask themselves a few crucial questions when evaluating a digital agency.
- Do they understand my market, my product, my competitors, my audience, their behavior, and psychograph?
- Are they able to develop a nuanced understanding of the market in order to craft the right message and channel for each segment?
- Will they suggest multiple approaches to reach specific goals, rather than just one approach?
- Will they update their knowledge and monitor market changes that would help the business grow?
- Who are their clients? And can I mention any specific one as a reference?
Market knowledge is what differentiates a good agency from others. Today, anyone who wants to make their idea a reality must first understand the market and its needs before jumping into action. This is where knowledge of the market becomes a crucial factor for a firm’s success.
- What will be the senior team’s involvement?
When hiring an agency, you must ensure that they have the right team to execute the planned strategy. This includes the experience of the team members who will be working on the project. Be it associates, senior managers or directors, it is their expertise in the field that will bring results to the project at hand. Therefore, it is essential to have a good, knowledgeable team who can support the efforts put in by the agency as well the client.
Additionally, having the right mix of people in the team is important. The success of a project never lies with one team alone, but with combined efforts from all team members, belonging to different teams. Therefore, when you as a company choose an agency, it is important to ask questions about the team members, their core capabilities and their experience to ensure efficiency that could lead to successful results.
- What tools does the agency use?
One of the most important questions to ask yourself while choosing an agency to help build your business is ‘what tools does the agency use?’ While this question may not seem quite necessary at first, it does go a long way at ensuring the project sails smoothly. Most agencies use tools such as Basecamp, Hubstaff, Slack, Microsoft Office, WordPress, Trello, etc. that help the companies co-ordinate, host virtual meetings, make notes, upload files, chat, etc. thus, making work transparent and easy to manage.
It is important for an agency to make most of the tools available as it ensures efficient working, also improving the quality of communication and workflow. Therefore, when speaking to agencies, it’s always good to know how they work, the tools they work with and how can they make working easy, while also ensuring good results for your business.
- Who are their existing clients?
References and testimonials from third parties can be a constructive way to get a sense of the quality and reliability of a company. And the best references will come from clients who have worked with the company for a significant period of time. However, these references should be individuals you can speak to directly and not random names put on a list.
But while choosing a client servicing partner, their existing clientele must not be the only criteria for hiring them. There are many agencies who have gone out of their way and helped clients achieve greater heights. So, when you choose an agency partner, ensure you consider other factors as well.
- What is their scope of work and pricing?
There are many agencies who do amazing work. But a lot of them do not have a transparent payment structure. Sometimes, sales executives share a cost estimate for a said amount of work, and then attempt to modify the contract later. One clever way to work around costings in such an industry is to try and sign them up for a bonus payout scheme, so that the agencies have to work harder to earn the additional bonuses from the company on achieving pre-defined targets.
It is important to outline the payment structure to ensure that you understand what the agency covers and what it does not. Sign the agreement, only after the work is defined and costings are agreed upon.
- What are their Key performance indicators?
While most agencies refrain from sharing growth projections, be sure to ask for the information you need to determine what KPIs the agency expects to deliver for you. Share your brand vision with the team and match your expectations with their projections. Ask them what they would recommend in terms of a timeline to support the objectives and how to achieve the set goals.
To ensure that you and the agency are on the same lines, it is important you ask them a few questions related to performance. They are:
- What is your primary goal for this partnership?
- What is the main objective of this project?
- What is your plan to achieve these goals?
- How will you measure my success? (What are some industry benchmarks?)
- What is their internal process?
The last thing you want is to spend time and money revising a piece that could have been perfect in the first place. Therefore, it’s essential to know about the internal review mechanism at the agency. This will give you an idea of how your brief will be executed and also help decide the budget.
Questions to ask your agency about the internal process:
- Will you have access to the execution team? (Designer, content writer, SEO specialist, etc.)
- Is there a project manager who will ensure that each task gets completed in time?
- What is the escalation metric?
- Is there a project management software?
- What other services do they offer?
As a key managerial person you need to be very well aware of the services that the agency is going to offer you not only now but even in the long run.
The best bet is to work with an agency who offers multiple services, so you don’t need to coordinate with different agencies for multiple things. Not only will this make working efficient but also will make work and communication easier. A plus point, you may also save some costs on a well negotiated deal. Now that’s a win-win, isn’t it?
- Are they ready to sign a MOU/black and white scope document?
What is an MOU?
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is a short contract that sets the tone for future negotiations and can be seen as the beginning of a longer contract. An MOU helps to define the scope and purpose of the talks, outlining expectations and intentions. Having an MOU in place can help avoid problems that could arise once the project has begun.
To ensure a smooth contract between two organizations, it is essential to sign an MOU before beginning a project. The MOU will include the scope of work, project timeline, confidentiality clauses, payment milestones, intellectual property usage, etc. that will need to be signed by both parties.
While the internet makes it easy to find any number of agencies, it can also be challenging to find one that will offer you the value you’re looking for in this ever-changing business environment. Therefore, it is important that you do not compromise on choosing the ideal agency only because of the cost factor. Choosing a wrong agency just to save a few thousands, may help you save money initially but may not work for you in the long run.
Remember, as entrepreneurs, it is important for you to look at options and evaluate the value of an agency before making a decision. Don’t forget to ask these questions and assess the agency.
And, if you feel “stuck” with an inefficient digital agency team, you’re not alone.
But fear not!
We at 3 Minds Digital work to solve these problems, develop strategies, and implement solutions that improve your efficiency in delivering great results for your customers.
Find your “next ideal digital agency” by picking up the phone and dropping us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org