Don’t be fooled into choosing the wrong marketing agency

Don’t be fooled into choosing the wrong marketing agency

Growing up, my family took April Fools’ Day seriously—especially my oldest brother, Mike, and me. His best work: Sneaking ketchup into my milk glass. I was 5 and never saw or tasted anything amiss until I reached the bottom. To this day, I don’t drink milk or use the popular condiment.

It’s easy to be fooled—especially when listening to sales pitches from prospective marketing groups. Reps might put on an awesome dog and pony show, drum up excitement, and say just the right things to woo you and your team. But then they fail to deliver. You discover ketchup in your milk.

How can you avoid being duped?

Hire a culture, not an agency. Look for firms that are collaborative, innovative, and proactive. Hang out at their digs to get a feel for their world—the energy, quality expectations, client communication, processes, and work flow styles. And vice versa. They need to understand how and what makes you tick, too. Compatibility is key to a successful, long-term relationship and best results. Trust your gut.

Get to know the talent. Partnering with a reputable agency that’s been around the block is great, but really hone in on the creative folks who work behind the scenes. Request to meet the exact crew that will develop your marketing strategy or rebrand. These chemistry sessions reach beyond award-winning portfolios to further determine if the agency jives with your own values and personality.

Avoid yes-men. Be wary of those quick to agree without asking a lot of questions. Expert marketing partners don’t mindlessly follow orders. Rather, they become advisers eager to learn about your business, pain points, goals, and budget, and recommend tactics to position you for success. Find a panel you trust—and one that’s not afraid of losing business by pointing out your bad ideas.

Never jump into hiring an agency. Selecting the right partner to guide your organization’s look and voice is a big decision. Apply these tips throughout the process, and you’ll be well on your way to weeding out the duds and narrowing down the finalists.

Oh, and in case you were wondering … I did get some sweet revenge on my brother—albeit a wife and two kids later. His daughter wanted a cat for her birthday, but Mike is highly allergic. So I gave her a box full of holes and tucked a remote-controlled sound device inside. She was ECSTATIC when the box meowed! Mike … not so much! We’re still laughing about it!

Elizabeth Anderson, Senior Account Executive