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Choosing the Right Agency

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You're a marketer needing an agency... it doesn't much matter your size....the complexities of choice exist regardless. The promises of one stop shopping, new media expertise and brilliant work are rampant.

There are countless new models. Search consultants to help you navigate, and never-ending LinkedIn pitches.

Everyone is saying they can either do one thing better than anyone or everything better than everyone.

How do you find the right agency?

If a marketer could design his own perfect agency today here is how he or she might approach it.

A few suggestions:

Brand Fanatics
Start with folks who care deeply about brands... and yes, in particular, yours.
Every agency wants new business but it's easy to feel true brand passion and genuine care...when its real. Your brand is your greatest asset. You want people who take that responsibility very seriously and know what it takes to watch over yours. Your communications must be true to your brand wherever it connects so pick a partner who knows how this is done. Experience matters.

Cross Channel Comfort
Choose people who intuitively get the value of each channel and how to optimize those most important to your business.

There are endless touch-point opportunities for a brand today. That's both the good news and the challenge. Work with an agency that knows how to make the communications channel choices your brand needs and how to optimize messaging in each of those channels. The days of duplicating ads from print to outdoor to banners are long gone.

Paths to Purchase Priorities
Sounds obvious but all roads should lead to that first, second and third moment of truth. Most agencies leave this work to the promotion and shopper marketing guys but yours should not. Look for an agency that studies the consumer journey and knows how to make your brand irresistibly part of it. Bringing this wisdom up front to strategic planning is critical today. It should influence your platform, your creative work and ultimately how you measure success. You cannot afford it to be an afterthought.

Magic Matters
The best clients demand to be pushed by their agency. The best agencies will reward those clients with fantastic work.

There is constant talk around data today and just as many marketers begging for one big idea from the endless barrage of information. Choose an agency that will discover an insight that leads to great creative work and an idea that delivers magic. Magic moves people and brands, not data.

Customized Care
We all hear the jargon. Many agencies promise integration and holistic thinking. But few agencies are able to break down their silos to give a brand what it actually needs....a tailored service engagement that can scale up, down and sideways. Every brand is different and yours deserves special treatment. Demand it.

Years ago, marketers were convinced that all their needs could be satisfied by the agency having every service they could possibly need under one roof. There were promises of whole eggs and orchestration and 360 degree marketing. Years later, these marketers came to doubt they were getting the best talent in areas like digital and PR. So they moved to a variety of specialized relationships.

Today, many marketers are struggling with the logistics of managing multiple agencies and the challenges of bringing their efforts together on behalf of their brand. Look for an agency that knows how to do this for you.
They are out there.

It's not about being virtual for cost purposes. It's not about having cooperatives for flexibility. It's about doing things differently. It's fundamentally about customizing around what you need and being able to trust in a partner who will manage a tailored team they create for you.

Commercial Success
It goes without saying that your agency should be joined at the hip with you in delivering your business goals. You know that everything starts and ends there and they should too. Select an agency that is committed to both brilliant creative work and measurement that confirms they are right. Awards are nice, but only when they celebrate the impact of creative work on your business.

Get What You Pay For
We all hear the bait and switch stories - promises of senior attention that are somehow forgotten once contracts are signed. You deserve to work with the experienced talent you have chosen. Most marketers don't have a problem paying for the right talent if they truly get their time and attention with continuity.

It's All About the People
You will lose the battle if you don't choose talent.

But it's easier to win with people you like and trust.

Get to know the people who define your agency - who they are behind the curtain and beyond their skills.

You will likely be spending a fair amount of time with them and it makes a big difference when you look forward to that.

I chatted with a successful entrepreneur last week...a new prospect.

His first question to me was 'What do you love?'

What a great way to get to know someone, fast - how are they wired, what are their values?

So, choose people who truly care about your brand.

People you can trust - And importantly, people who others have trusted.

People who understand the world we're in and are students of how it's changing. People who know how to navigate the endless opportunities today's digital world creates.

People you would like to work with every day - if necessary, perhaps even if possible.

And yes, people you would go to battle with.

I don't think it matters if you're BtoB or BtoC...whether you're selling tech solutions to industry or baby gear to moms... the same guidance applies.

A wise adman once said that clients get the agencies they deserve.
Choose wisely. It's your brand.

Rick Roth
CEO & Founder
Roth Partners LLC