BRAND MANAGEMENT AGENCY SELECTION
Not all brand management agencies are equal. So what’s the best way to evaluate an agency to make sure it best fits your brand management needs?
Start with the end in mind.
- What is it that you’re trying to accomplish? Do you need strategic planning or do you need an agency that can deliver creative elements?
- Compile a list of brands that you admire, perhaps even aspire to emulate.
- Collect print, online display, and television advertising that you think do a great job of brand marketing. If nothing comes to mind, review trade magazines, advertising sites, and associations to look at their annual awards programs for ideas.
- Determine which agencies created those campaigns and do some research. Find out what, if any, experience they have in your industry. Sometimes it’s better to have a fresh perspective; other times, familiarity helps avoid potential missteps.
- Check references. Visit agency websites and identify their clients. Don’t hesitate to contact those who have worked with them in the past as well as current clients on the roster. Feedback from former clients can provide insight that current clients might not be willing or able to share.
- Look for clients that have similar marketing budgets as your own. A large, full-service agency might not be the best fit for many reasons, and smaller agencies may not have the necessary resources your project requires.
- Determine which areas of support you need and find agencies that can deliver. Whether it’s strategic planning, creative development, media planning/buying, direct marketing, digital marketing, trade shows, or social media campaigns, find a team that has experience where you need it most. It will be easier dealing with one point of contact to coordinate your budgeting, management, and communication.
- Narrow the list to the top three or four agencies and arrange face-to-face meetings.
- Ask each agency about capabilities in the following areas: industry and marketing knowledge, product experience or expertise, strategic planning, creative development, and production.
- Ask who on the team will execute strategy and who will be involved in the day-to-day management of your account. Many agencies will sell you on having access to their executive team and top creatives, but hand off the account management to inexperienced and less qualified team members.
- Ask team members who their favorite clients are and why. Do they prefer clients that are performance focused but hands-off, or ones that like to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the process?
- Ask to see the agency’s best work and ask how they helped the client(s) meet specific objectives.
- Present some of your current challenges and ask the team how they would help you address some of your company’s strategic issues. Listen to their suggestions to see if they demonstrate an understanding of your situation.
- If you’re favorably impressed with the team, request two or three campaign ideas that will help you meet your brand marketing goals. Be certain to pay the agencies for their work as it protects you should you use an idea that was presented without hiring that team.
- Create a scorecard that rates each agency with the traits that (remove “that”) you find most important. Be sure not to overlook team chemistry, as you’ll likely be spending a lot of time working together. It’s also good to consider how well the branding agency might interface with other marketing agencies you use.
- Compile a list of brands that you admire, perhaps even aspire to.