However, finding the right partner to create this campaign and work with your business can be complex and overwhelming. Is it the agency with all the stars and lights? Or is it the one with all the awards? These eight points help whittle the wheat from the chaff.
1. Industry understanding
Does the agency have specific industry knowledge and a rich insight into the challenges and pain points which impact on it? Do they know where it started, where it is going and what may very well happen tomorrow?
It is essential that any partner have a deep understanding of your industry so they can translate this into an understanding of where the business is going and ensure your brand remains relevant to the target audience. Without knowing how the industry ticks and its specific quirks, an agency can’t tailor a strategic plan that recognises these issues and manages them effectively.
2. Client testimonials
It is very easy for an agency to promise the world and assure your business of its future in lights and fame and glory, if you just simply sign on the dotted line. However, if the company doesn’t have proven capability, it isn’t going to deliver.
One of the best ways to verify whether an agency or communications partner has the right qualifications is to read through their client testimonials. If they don’t have any on their website or promotional materials, ask them for contact information. A great agency will be willing to let you investigate their capabilities as it knows it will get great reviews.
3. Previous work
Ask the agency for samples of their previous work, and ensure that it is with similar brands and in a similar space. The company may be fantastic in its delivery of consumer campaigns, packed with all the right skills for customers in that space, but if your business is communicating to the technology, B2B and enterprise segments, the agency won’t understand the nuances of those markets.
Ensure any agency has knowledge of your industry sector to ensure they don’t struggle to deliver the results.
4. A willingness to invest
A truly spectacular mark of a worthy agency is its willingness to engage in your business from the start. If they take the time to get to know your brand, understand its needs, recognise its weak points and really dig down into its culture, then they will be willing to walk your brand’s path alongside you.
You can pick up if an agency has done its homework and researched a company right at the start. If they haven’t done this at the pitch phase, then when will they think your business is worth knowing? It is essential that an agency be entrenched in the client’s business, often understanding it better than they do. That way they can consult effectively.
5. Long-term relationships
Does the agency have strong relationships with partners, clients and, most importantly, the media? A strong communications agency will be determined to invest in building relationships for your business, and have plenty of their own stuffed into their little black books.
Often we find that people will develop content for content’s sake, with little to no awareness of who to pitch it to, or what its value is for the market and media. This just wastes everyone’s time and energy. Just make sure they have the relationships so they can get your brand message out to the right media.
6. Business results come first
Perhaps one of the most relevant and important point is that any agency must be focused on delivering business results. If the goal is purely to count coverage, that’s fine. Hire an agency that just wants to provide your brand with coverage. However, if you want to build the business, its footprint and its bottom line, then you need an agency which is committed to a clearly defined strategy.
7. Creative flair
Want to make an impact? Be bold enough to allow the agency to explore creative options that make their own noise in an already addled market.
Your agency must be able to develop creative solutions, content and concepts that resonate with your brand identity, and with the target market. The market is bombarded with noise and ideas and brands. You need an agency which has the flair needed to come up with different ways of doing things.
8. Your brand is their brand
Your communications agency must be a strategic partner who treats your brand as if it were their own. Every concept, every release and every touchpoint must be crafted with your company and its strategy in mind. This is vital for a successful, long-term relationship.
Your agency must be willing to make a commitment to drive your brand to the next level, consulting with you and giving you advice that yields results and maps back to your strategic goals. This partnership can potentially be incredibly profitable and powerful, so choose an agency that will walk with you and get your brand out there – to the right media, at the right time and with the right attitude.
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