Agencies allow businesses to offload the most complex parts of their marketing strategies for massive ROI. Companies working with agencies get access to dedicated teams of savvy professionals across writing, design, strategy, advertising, and more. Despite the obvious advantages, though, The American Association of Advertising Agencies reports that half of agency relationships fizzle within two years. What gives?
Building a partnership to take advantage of a short-term opportunity is easy. Building a partnership to last requires a more cohesive approach.
The Covid-19 pandemic threw budgets into disarray, but businesses that have survived the worst of it understand the need to keep customers coming through the door. Companies have to spend money to earn money, and in the case of marketing, few spending strategies are safer bets than agencies. How do companies choose the right agency partners, though? And how has the agency landscape changed over the last tumultuous year?
If you’re looking for an agency partner to fuel your company’s growth, keep these best practices in mind.
Find someone specializing in your niche.
Some marketing agencies specialize in healthcare services. Others specialize in theme parks. Whatever you do, make sure your marketing agency knows the landscape.
Some agencies actually start out as companies within the industry. For example, Anidjar and Levine, a personal injury law firm in Florida, created an ad agency for law firms after discovering the strategies that work best in the industry. Find someone with deep experience in the area to gain an advantage over others using more generalized services.
Prioritize results over creative.
The most creative ad campaigns win awards, but the smartest ad campaigns make money. Don’t be swayed by great creative without a solid foundation of results to back it up. It’s better to have a great strategy that delivers consistent growth than a popular ad with a low conversion rate.
You can take risks, but prioritize risks with the potential for big payouts. A risky ad could garner short-term attention, while an unconventional ad placement strategy could put your message in front of your audience in a new way. Agencies with a solid grasp on foundational best practices can deliver both quick wins and long-term success.
Pick someone you enjoy working with.
Just as you wouldn’t pick a co-founder you didn’t like, don’t pick an agency that doesn’t share (or at least understand) your values. You may feel strongly about your company’s social mission, but if your agency feels the ends always justify the means, you may not get along.
That’s not to say you should let petty differences get in the way of a good thing. On the contrary, professional relationships don’t have to be friendly ones. You should feel confident in your agency’s ability to understand your voice and meet the goals that are meaningful to you, and conversations between you should reflect that.
Vet potential agencies by their flexibility.
Be wary of agencies with little experience in adversity. The ad agency space attracts many new entrants, thanks to a low barrier to entry and low startup costs. Look for a partner who has weathered a few storms and can empathize with you on what it’s like to work through difficult times.
2020 revealed which agencies have the ingenuity to overcome obstacles. Talk to potential agency partners about what they did to survive on their own. What did they prioritize? How did they adapt? Their answers will tell you whether you can trust them to see your business through the challenges of the future.
Recognize the limits of both sides.
You can’t do everything, which is why you want to work with an agency, but your agency can’t do everything, either. Be realistic with your expectations and understand your agency’s capabilities. Certain marketing strategies can get expensive, such as LinkedIn ads. Others take a long time to produce results, like SEO plays for competitive keywords.
Your partnership with your agency will last longer if both sides know what to expect. Start conversations with honesty and insist your agency partners do the same. Ask for case studies and examples of timelines for the types of work you and your agency agree would benefit your company. Nailing down those specifics from the outset will make life easier for both of you.
Agency partnerships in a post-pandemic world may not function the same way they did before — and maybe they shouldn’t. Your business has already dealt with one major challenge. Don’t add agency misalignment to the mix. Vet potential partners thoroughly and look to the long term to provide your business the spark it needs to grow in this year and the years beyond.