Challenge us – we expect you to. In fact, we like to challenge you back, because this is the only way for us both to find out if we can work together on campaigns that take you where you want to go.

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5 questions to ask your full services marketing agency

Chris Field
Chris Field

I think this is important. Sure, you can teach your agency the basics, but if they don’t really know your industries, or the key influencers that work in them, then how can they know what content will resonate, what channels will reach your targets, and what tone of voice you need to use for each persona? Unless they have this knowledge and insight, they are really transferring the comms problem back to you.

How well do you know my industry?

I think this is important. Sure, you can teach your agency the basics, but if they don’t really know your industries, or the key influencers that work in them, then how can they know what content will resonate, what channels will reach your targets, and what tone of voice you need to use for each persona? Unless they have this knowledge and insight, they are really transferring the comms problem back to you.

Do you integrate all your services around a single set of core KPIs?

You are almost certainly get the answer yes if you ask this one, but probe a little deeper. Some of the larger agencies struggle to ensure that the range of services they provide can be monitored for effectiveness through a single dashboard and under the management of a single account director. Integration is a basic requirement for ensuring all activities are focused on the same targets, and that each contributes to influencing those targets in your direction.

Are you going to challenge my thinking?

An agency can’t really challenge what you are doing currently if they don’t understand your markets, or can see why what you are doing now may not be working. There are plenty of agencies out there that will simply take order and do your bidding, but this is unlikely to work if, as most companies, you are working in a ruthlessly competitive market. You need the agency principals to tell you the truth, particularly as you want them to deliver.

How international are your capabilities?

There are plenty of so-called global agencies that distinguish themselves only by being shit everywhere. They often have smart people at the centre who build great strategy and structure but then execute badly in the individual countries. This is the ‘no one got fired for hiring IBM’ excuse, but the stakes are now generally too high to tick the global agency box but get only patchy delivery. Using single-country agencies is fine as long as their partner network is real, tried and tested, and as long as the lead agency is prepared to take responsibility for what each partner does or does not deliver.

Will the agency save me time?

The kick off meeting should not be the last time your new agency makes the effort to understand you; they should invest in learning so much about you that they end up knowing more about you than you do. A perennial complaint from companies is that they feel their agencies don’t really understand them. Sure, you are trading complementary not identical skills, but they are there to take work off your hands, not increase it.

Do you like them?

Working with people you don’t really like never works for long. It’s business AND it’s pleasure. If you like each other, there’s a chance you will make a deep commitment to get things done, while also being more understanding when things go wrong from time to time.

If you want to talk to an agency that is invested in your success, call Chris Field on 0777 576 0876 or email chris@fieldworksmarketing.co.uk

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