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So you’re thinking about hiring an agency…what questions should you ask yourself BEFORE you start the process?

Hiring a marketing/advertising firm to help your business grow profitably (that IS what it’s all about), is a big step.  It takes time and money to do, and having an agency requires continuous investment in people and technology to get the best ROI.  Companies who want to hire the most appropriate resources should start with some basic questions of themselves before they start casting about for an agency. 

Here are the top 5 questions to ask yourself before you get agencies out there drooling over the prospect of responding to an RFP:

1. What expertise and services do you believe you need? (What you think you need and what you actually need may in fact be different)

It’s nice to dream about TV commercials, online vids and Times Square billboards—but probably not reality.  Make a list of the top 5 MarCom services you use or envision using. Probably Strategy, digital creative and media buying, website development and hosting, maybe some branding work, and results tracking.  You get the drill.

2. What kind of relationship will work best for your organization?

Are you looking for a spouse? Or are you looking to just casually date? …Seriously, an agency relationship should be thought of like a good marriage.  But if you’re just looking for a vendor for a one-off project, be honest and you’ll find quality suppliers to do the job or project at hand. When thinking about hiring an agency, plan to invest time and money in developing and growing a relationship with a consistent MarCom provider—that’s when you get REAL ROI.

3. How are YOU (your company) to work with? 

Is it “easy” to get work approved in your organization?  Or is it like “getting nibbled to death by ducks”? Time is money for agencies, and if your organization eats up vast quantities of time at each level of input or approvals, it will be reflected in your agency costs.  And, over time, a constant stream of revisions from far-flung reaches of your organization (who may have little knowledge or experience in providing those inputs) will wear down your agency’s enthusiasm and creativity.  Put one person in charge of managing the agency, and serving as the conduit for communications with them and you’ll be happier—and more successful.

4. What are your business expectations?

Do you have a quantified expectation of what constitutes success?  It’s important and agency knows where the goalposts are, and how much time they have to score!

5. DATA!  Do you have it?  Can you get it? Do you know how to work with it?

Marketing Communications and advertising today are built on data and technology.  The more you have and the more you can share, the better your agency’s output will be. 

There’s lots of other smaller and ancillary questions to ask yourself when thinking about hiring an agency, but once you’ve answered these basic questions, you’ll be in a much better position to start the RFP process. 

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