The Top 7 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Youth Marketing Agency

10/03/2016 09:55 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017
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By Adam Grant

You've determined you need to grab college students' attention -- and for good reason. In a 2015 College Explorer Study, college students boast an immense $523B in total buying power. Once you get them hooked in college, there is a big chance they stay loyal. According to Millennial Branding, 60 percent said that they are almost always loyal to brands that they purchase.

You need an agency that can win over this new consumer. Luckily for you, there are plenty of choices -- but not every single agency is right for everyone. For example, my agency is great at capabilities involving student labor, but we may not be the right choice for developing websites.

Below are six questions you must ask when looking for an agency to handle your student marketing efforts.

1. "How has your agency adapted to the changes in student demographics over the past few years?"

When they speak about what college students are doing, saying or engaging with, how do they incorporate these components into their own agency? For example, mobile-only internet usage and early technology adoption are becoming increasingly normal amongst college students. In fact, 21 percent of millennials don't use desktops to go online, according to a study by comScore.

From this research, determine if they are still promoting their brand ambassador programs entirely through a website, or if they have pivoted to communicating primarily through mobile.

2. Focus on a specific capability and ask questions about it. Start with, "How do you differ on X versus your competitors?"

It amazes me how many companies don't ask us this question. What are the differentiating factors of this agency when compared to the rest? This can be identified by asking directly, or masking it in a series of questions. For example, "How do you interview/hire students for brand ambassador positions?" A typical response would be to review a resume, conduct a phone interview, ask questions about involvement on campus, make the hire, etc. Conversely, an e

Conversely, an example of a better response would be to acknowledge that these are college students, not entry-level team members. They don't have the experience yet for an impressive resume, and they don't have relevant experience to talk about in interviews. Because of this, we'll use personality tests like Myers-Briggs and Personality Index to assist in identifying extroverted traits, which typically are great for presenting your product in front of a classroom.

3. "What knowledge do you have of our industry and this specific capability?"

I make it a point to always stay involved in speaking with prospects. A common question I always ask is, "What aren't you getting from your agency that you wish you were?" A few common responses I hear is longer-than-expected ramp up time for execution, and not being able to deliver on capabilities promised.

Find someone who has worked with similar companies, as you'll spend less time educating them and more time on execution. Ask for many case studies to ensure the experience on that specific capability is met. We've unfortunately found from our own experiences in working with website vendors that graphic design, journalism and coding are not guaranteed capabilities from a single vendor alone.

4. "Do you outsource any of your work?"

Be careful of the agencies who outsource the work you are doing with them for two reasons: First, You aren't hearing from the source, and second, it'll take longer for your work to be completed. We are able to save clients money and move quicker by having our own network of colleges and college students that we use to execute versus hiring a staffing agency.

5. "How do you continue to learn the ins and outs of your field?"

 Attending industry conferences or writing blog articles are a couple examples of how they might continuously build their expertise. It's a big plus if your agency can continuously come to you with fresh insight.

6. "Can you handle this list of capabilities?"

We can't execute on all the capabilities that are in our field. Throw a list together of capabilities you are interested in. and be wary of the agency who tells you they can "do it all." I learned this when trying to hire a website vendor: Just like there are many professors for many subjects, no one agency can be an expert at everything. I hope I have given you some ammo before you conduct your search for a youth marketing partner.

Adam Grant currently serves as CEO of Campus Commandos, a top marketing vendor specializing in helping businesses reach Millennials.