Today I want to talk to you about how to sort good agencies from bad agencies.
Like in any industry, there are good and there are bad examples of people providing products and services.
Over the years I’ve certainly worked with many of both varieties and I think no one’s perfect.
But there are things you can look out for.
There are patterns you can look out for.
I’m going to cover five P’s today of how to sort good agencies from bad.
This is the process we use, that I use.
This is what I advise my clients to use.
I’m happy to share that with you all today because there’s nothing worse than working in marketing and hearing someone tell you that they went with an agency that did a terrible job, that took their money and ran, delivered no value.
It’s really really terrible for multiple reasons because the client has had a bad experience, because someone unethical has taken someone’s money unfairly, but mostly because it makes it impossible for the rest of the marketing industry to serve more people because marketing gets a bad name.
So here are five things you can do to assess whether a marketing agency is worth speaking to or not.
1 – Pedigree
The first thing is look at their pedigree.
Look at their biographies.
Look at their experience.
If you can’t see who they are on their website, I’d say that’s a sign, a bad sign.
When you can see who they are, look at their experience;
Is it relevant?
Were they a car salesmen a year ago?
What do they know about marketing?
What experience have they had?
What journey have they been on?
Now they may have been a car salesman a year ago, doesn’t mean they’re not an amazing marketeer today, I don’t know.
But for me I would want to see that someone’s been doing something for a while, so they’ve built up a body of experience and work and that they understand the pitfalls, that they’ve been through lots of challenges.
Looking at their biography and their experience is key.
Certainly looking at their linkedin profile is an absolute no-brainer. You will know very quickly from their linkedin profile, who they are, what they’re about, what people think about them.
Do the diligence.
2 – Proof
The next P is Proof.
What social signals can you see?
Are they active?
Are they inactive on the platform that matters to you?
What’s their copy like?
What’s their website like?
Judge them all.
Judge me. I don’t mind, it’s fine, you’ve got to make the decisions for you based on what you think is valuable.
Ultimately if the social signals aren’t strong, if they’re not giving you what you think you need, then listen to your gut.
Take a pause.
Look at one of the other P’s, try and assess them against all of them and make sure that you know if someone falls over on one, they don’t fall over on another.
If someone falls over on one, that could happen.
Maybe their website is out of date, that happens, even to marketing agencies.
But if they fall on two or three, you’re starting to wonder if they fall on four or five of the P’s it’s got to be a no isn’t it?
3 – Problems
The third P is Problems.
What problems have they dealt with?
What problems can you find via google?
What complaints about people can you see?
Type their company name in and the word complaint, type the type the director’s name in and complaint.
See what the market is saying about them, work out whether they are telling you the truth.
Ask them for references.
Who can you speak to?
Don’t just take the references they give you, look at their linkedin, look at some of the other people that they’ve ever talked about.
Look at some of the recommendations they’ve got, from two or three years ago.
Go to those people and say how did that engagement end?
How did it work?
Did they deliver?
Was it their fault?
Could they have done better?
What did you learn?
What would you do differently?
4 – Point Of Contact
The next key P is Point of contact.
Who will you be speaking to?
It’s all really easy to have a great pitch from an agency, or any supplier for that matter, and get an MD in the room giving it absolutely everything to win the contract.
But if the day after they win the contract, they give you to their least experienced, least paid employee, again that would be a problem wouldn’t it.
Because you’ve bought into the MD who had great experience and you’re now stuck with someone who has no experience – running your brand, building your marketing.
Make sure all the way through, that you’re very clear about who the points of contact are going to be and who’s going to actually be doing the work.
Don’t let them outsource it to the cheapest possible location to make themselves more money.
5 – Pain
And the last P is ask them what will be my biggest regret?
Ask them to tell you what the pain will be?
What will you hate about working with them?
One final thing to say is impatience is the mother of reactive marketing rather than proactive marketing.
Draw a line.
Stop trying to catch up with your marketing.
Don’t just buy something because an agency is putting into a place of stress and fear.
Start winning the race by being proactive, by pushing impatience out the door and focusing on what you need to get done and accepting that you can’t build Rome in a day and you can’t go grow a forest overnight.