Insights from Sam: How Can a Business Choose the Best Online Marketing Agency for Them?
In our “Insights from Sam” blog post series, I ask Sam (one of our online marketing experts here at Followbright) a question or two about, you guessed it, online marketing. These questions are the most common ones about online marketing that we’re asked here at our web strategy agency. Each time, Sam shares his insights through simple, easy to understand responses. Enjoy!
Erin: If a business decides they want to work with an online marketing agency, and that they need help trying to figure out which type of search engine marketing would be a good fit for them, what should they look for when they are searching for an agency to partner with?
Sam: First, an online marketing agency needs to have some familiarity with the type of products the client is interested in. Especially if the client isn’t sure what products are best for them…they need an agency that can help them choose between offerings.
After they come up with a list of qualified agencies, the deciding factor should be whether there is a good fit between the advertiser and the agency.
Even if an agency is very accomplished in their field and has achieved wonderful things for other clients in the past, it's important that the client and the agency work well together, understand each other and are comfortable being honest with one another.
No matter how a relationship starts or works early in progress, if there are fundamental misunderstandings or a lack of trust on either side that is likely to lead to issues down the line.
As much as a client can tease this out, it is important to really work with an agency that is going to evaluate all the options available for that client and make an unbiased choice based on things like budget, the likelihood for success and a good fit between the business and the advertising platform.
For example, certain industries are really well suited to social media, certain industries maybe a little bit less so. If a business went to an agency that focused in social media they might get skewed in that direction a little bit when maybe that's not the best fit.
Clients should look for an agency that is going to form a trusting relationship with them and also one that has a breadth of experience where they can really help the client choose what is best for them, not just what the agency specializes in.
Erin: You’re saying that there needs to be a good fit in terms of the relationship. Does that mean that there should always be phone calls with the agencies as a business is trying to figure out who's a good match for them? That businesses should actually be taking time to have a conversation or even multiple conversations with each potential agency before they make a decision? Or are RFPs a better use of everyone’s time?
Sam: One of the holdovers from a largely bygone era of advertising is the Request for Proposal (RFP). In the past, large print advertising or television companies would put out an RFP, which has requirements and a timeline, and an agency would put together a presentation including: budget, proposed ideas and a timeline and ship it off to the client or present it in person. That formal proposal process used to be the norm for all digital marketing and advertising.
These days, companies of all sizes should start with a conversation…either a phone call or an in-person meeting if everyone is in the same general vicinity. Those conversations can really help a client understand how an agency does business, where their tactics and costs tend to come from and how they are going to help the client reach their goals.
A formal RFP might help define a budget to work with, or how an agency likes to present, but it won't necessarily help a client choose an agency that is going to be a good cultural fit for them. Ideally the agency / client relationship will last for months or potentially even years, so understanding each other is essential before the client starts spending money and investing in advertising.