The question is not trivial. There are more than 15,000 communication agencies, marketing agencies, digital agencies, social media agencies, inbound marketing agencies … The list goes on …
The differences between the agencies are not obvious for a layman and sometimes even for the marketing and communication departments. Communication and marketing are one of the challenges in the business development of SMEs and large advertisers.
The evolution of techniques, the multiplicity of supports, the immediacy of communication complicate the identification of the most suitable partner. Advertisers such as SMEs face such an offer that it is often difficult to find the agency that meets their expectations. At a time when the points of contact between brands and their consumers are fragmenting and multiplying, it is essential to choose the agency, the partner that will be the most efficient for your business and your project.
How to successfully choose your provider? 4 essential steps and some tips to get there.
1 / Define your needs and objectives
This seems obvious, depending on the objective of the collaboration to come: long-term support, a one shot operation, advice … you will not use the same agencies. Your objectives will be decisive in your choice. To be precise, you can follow the following rule: your objectives must be SMART:
Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, Time-bound.
Defining the needs and objectives of your business is an essential prerequisite for choosing your agency. From now on, the agencies no longer offer only specific know-how in one area, but also a global approach. However, if you just need social media support, or a website and a mobile application, you don’t need to go to a 360 ° agency.
The best way to define your objectives and your needs is to write a readable and precise brief.
The complete brief guide
This document is the basis of your relationship. If it is detailed, the agencies you will consult will use this reference document to establish their recommendation. This will allow you to assess the quality of the recommendations and suggestions offered. Spending time on your brief will save you precious time when it comes to assessing the agencies that meet your expectations.
2 / Know the agencies
This is important sourcing work. You will need to understand the different types of agencies, the teams, their methodologies and their DNA to choose the one that best meets your criteria and your needs.
A digital agency does not answer the same problems as a digital communication agency. A public relations agency is different from a press relations agency. A public relations agency can also be a press relations agency. Each type of agency corresponds to a specific need, so-called global agencies have a complete approach to all of your issues.
The agency’s reputation
Learn about its reputation. Is it cited on reference blogs or magazines?
Has it won any awards or recent awards?
How is this agency considered by industry players?
Who are the members of his team?
What are the achievements of the technical teams? Are their teams educationalists? Will they match with your teams?
What methods are implemented in the project management by the agency? Do they match your methods?
Looking at the previous achievements is not enough, you have to evaluate them. Perform an evaluation on the performance of previous campaigns, an evaluation on the benchmarks in relation to your business sectors.
Does the agency work with similar clients?
Are his customers my competitors?
Be careful, an agency that works with your competitors can be harmful. Find out which team will be dedicated to your project. An agency with work in nearby areas can save you time. She already has a first approach on similar issues, she already knows the typical profile of customers.
If your goals are to be seen as disruptive or innovative, choose an agency that has the same DNA. Do not hesitate to contact its clients to find out their feelings, do not settle for testimonials from agencies.
All of this research will allow you to confirm a first selection of agencies that meet your expectations. Choose 5, ideally 3 agencies for your first consultation.
Spend time getting to know the agencies
It is essential to take the time to identify the strengths of the agencies. The time spent analyzing their strengths will allow you to consult those that meet all of your criteria. The goal is to save time during the consultation and encourage them to give the best.
If you do not have the time to identify the strengths of the agencies, entrust this mission to a specialist in agency choice advice. It will allow you to save time in selecting the 3 to 5 most relevant agencies according to your criteria, objectives and needs. The identification and choice of agencies corresponding to your criteria will be simplified.
3 / Consult the agencies
You have successfully completed the first two stages, your brief has allowed you to better define your expectations, and you have identified the most suitable agencies. The steps to know the agencies have allowed you to identify the 3 agencies that correspond to your need and your objectives.
Two solutions are now available to you:
Organize a competition
You just have to organize an agency consultation, the term often used is agency competition. Clearly state in your brief the number of agencies competing, their names, the selection criteria for the proposal and provide compensation for the 2 agencies not selected if your expectations in terms of rendering are high. The agencies will understand your approach and devote time to your recommendation. Those we consult know that they have every chance of winning the projects on which they compete, because a perfect knowledge of the agencies allows them to be questioned on projects on which they are performing and better placed than others.
The success of your competition depends on a good selection of agencies upstream.
Organize a consultation
If your need is simpler and it does not require creative ideas, strategic recommendations or a media plan, opt for a simple consultation and do not be too demanding on the final result. If on the contrary, you plan a remuneration for the agencies not retained, you have the right to expect successful proposals (scenario, creation …).
4 / Evaluate the proposals received
All of the stages have enabled you to receive 3 proposals, you can judge them on the price, the solutions proposed, the creativity or the understanding of your problem. We advise advertisers to set up a rating grid to evaluate the proposals. You can then use this scoring grid to explain the reasons for your choice to the unsuccessful agencies.
The selection of your future agency is a very important step. It is not simply the choice of a service provider rather than another, but a real growth lever for your business.