“Our agency works as an extension of your team.” Oh really? Prove it.
Almost every marketing agency claims to “work as an extension” of your team. That’s exactly what you want from your outsourced experts, like PR/marketing agencies, but how can you trust that your service provider will truly be an extension of your team and not just claim they will? Here’s what to look for:
As a starting point, your marketing partner’s approach should include conducting a deep dive to learn and understand everything they can about your business. This is an important research and learning step and should not be skipped. The deep dive includes discussions around what you see as your differentiators, challenges you face, your goals, your target audiences (almost always more than one), opportunities, and more. It’s important for marketers to know the good, the bad, and the ugly. This requires candor, transparency, and trust. For your agency to work as part of your team, you have to treat them that way.
Other processes and characteristics to look for to feel confident your agency will work seamlessly with your organization include:
- Ownership mentality – Your agency should think like they own your business and make recommendations and decisions as such – always in the absolute best interest of the business. If a prospective agency isn’t exhibiting passion for your brand and an ownership mentality it is a red flag.
- Communication – To optimally function as a part of the in-house team, your agency’s communication is critical. Using platforms such as Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, or other project management systems help keep everyone connected and communicating. However, relying only on these platforms without structured weekly communication is less effective. Your agency should schedule weekly meetings (video or phone work fine) guided with an agenda where team members are expected to provide updates, report on results, and vet new ideas. These more formal meetings keep everyone informed and progressing.
- Accessibility – One thing some companies fear is not having their agency working down the hall. We’ve seen how effective remote-from-anywhere working can be with the right technology, work ethic, and communication. So, the concern of not being down the hall may go deeper than that; it’s more about having your lead marketer accessible to volley new ideas, talk at unscheduled times, and be nimble enough to be able to incorporate something new. Being highly accessible accomplishes that.
- Resource– Whether you’d benefit by media training, social media coaching, or having additional eyes on the industry and competitors, your agency should function as a resource enhancing your knowledge and strengthening your team, if there is an in-house marketer or not. The agency should bring you news, ideas and help where it’s needed.
- Honesty – It can be uncomfortable for a vendor to be brutally honest with their client, especially when the point being made is difficult for the client to hear or unpopular among the client’s management team. However, this is something to cherish in an agency relationship. To truly serve as an extension of your team, your agency partner should speak honestly and freely as any member of the inside leadership team would – in the best interest of the company.
Vetting these characteristics and processes are in place are good indicators that an agency understands how to work as an extension of your team. Finally, having alignment between your company cultures adds another positive sign that the relationship may be a great fit. How have you found the best fit?