By Dave Smith, VP of Client Services and Operations
My grandfather, affectionately known as Poppy, was an extraordinary outdoorsman—a fly fisherman and big game hunter who instilled a deep appreciation for nature in his son (my father) and subsequent generations of sportsmen, including my brother, myself, our children, and our children’s children. Pop possessed gear that seemed impervious to time—his rifles, rods, and boots lasted for what felt like forever. Always in immaculate condition and top-of-the-line. It was through his experiences that he shared a nugget of wisdom, which has reverberated in my personal and professional life ever since those early days of tagging along behind him on squirrel-hunting adventures behind their house in the Catskill Mountains: “A poor man can’t afford to buy things twice David; think about it.” This saying, I believe, explains why his gear endured.
This message – to be mindful of the choices you make – has metaphoric meaning to me as I look at our clients and the process by which the two entities – the agency and a business in need of marketing – come together.
In the realm of business, we encounter all types of roles, vendors, service providers, suppliers, and the list goes on. Whether we’re sellers, buyers, or brokers, we all strive to secure the best deal that offers a reliable solution for the challenges we face. However, more often than not, when we rush decisions, prioritize the lowest price, or neglect to do our due diligence, we find ourselves right back where we started…searching to make another purchase.
As a marketing and strategic communications professional, my role is to deliver exceptional service to my clients, be it through consulting, strategy development, or design. During discussions with potential clients, the topics of pricing, quality, and speed of delivery invariably arise, typically in that order.
Choosing the right strategic partner, regardless if you are looking for an agency to help you launch a product or to do PR or run a social program or to deploy a fully integrated marketing initiative that will carry on for years, is vitally important. Doing it right the first time will save you money. Your due diligence – so that, in the words of my Pop, you don’t “buy things twice” – should direct you to consider several areas:
- Industry Experience and Expertise: Look for a marketing agency that has relevant experience and expertise in your industry. A deep understanding of your market and target audience will enable them to create effective strategies and campaigns that resonate with your customers. Ask for case studies or examples of previous work they’ve done for similar businesses to gauge their capabilities.
- Services and Specializations: Consider the range of services the agency offers and whether they align with your marketing goals. Some agencies specialize in specific areas like digital marketing, content creation, SEO, social media, or branding. Assess your business’s needs and find an agency that can provide comprehensive solutions to meet those needs.
- Track Record and Reputation: Research the agency’s track record and reputation in the industry. Check for client reviews, testimonials, and online ratings. Look for awards or recognition they’ve received for their work. A reputable agency with a proven track record is more likely to deliver quality results and professionalism.
- Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are essential for a successful partnership. Consider how the agency communicates with potential clients during the selection process. Are they responsive, transparent, and open to feedback? A marketing agency that values collaboration and understands your business’s vision will work more effectively with your team.
- Budget and Pricing: Understand the agency’s pricing structure and ensure it aligns with your budget. Marketing expenses can vary significantly between agencies, so it’s essential to find one that provides value for money while delivering the desired results. Be wary of agencies that offer unusually low prices, as it could indicate a lack of experience or quality.
- Creativity and Innovation: In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, creativity and innovation are vital for staying ahead of the competition. Look for an agency that can bring fresh ideas to the table and is willing to experiment with new strategies. A creative agency can help your business stand out and engage your audience effectively.
- Bonus Consideration: Data-Driven Approach: In today’s data-rich environment, a marketing agency that relies on data-driven decision-making can provide more accurate insights and better results. Ask about the agency’s approach to data analytics, how they measure success, and how they optimize campaigns based on performance data.
By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose a marketing agency that will be a strong partner in helping your business achieve its marketing and growth objectives. Remember to take your time during the selection process and opt for an agency that aligns with your company’s values and long-term goals.
Decades later, as I find myself sitting in boardrooms surrounded by dealmakers, the wisdom shared with me by my Pop holds true. My advice to clients is rooted in those early lessons from the woods. Selecting the right partners, the first time can lay the groundwork for building strong brands, stronger relationships, a prosperous enterprise, and a lasting legacy for future generations.