So, You Need A Marketing Agency...
But What Kind?
As a client in search of the right agency, first clearly identify what your needs are as a company or organization; what type of marketing activities do you think you need? This could be anything from a cohesive marketing strategy or corporate media training to social media management or video content creation. Depending on what your needs are as an organization, consider the following types of agencies:
Solo-Practitioner: Solo practitioners are generally professional marketing and PR practitioners that have chosen to take on a small list of clients personally – they handle a variety of needs from strategy, branding, media relations, etc. They may have a specialty or a certain background that could be relevant to a specific type of client need. If you are looking for someone to work very personally with your organization as an extension of your marketing department, this could be the right fit for you. Solo-practitioners may not have the bandwidth to support certain requests and they may not have advanced media tracking capabilities or digital management tools.
Boutique Agency: The boutique agency is a sweet spot for many clients as it is small enough for a valuable agency-to-client relationship and prioritizes having high-level professionals work on every account, while still having more in-house capabilities and bandwidth than a solo-practitioner could provide.
Mid-Size Regional Agency: A mid-size regional agency could be right for you if you are a larger company but primarily need media relations out-reach only in one region. Mid-size agencies are able to provide more in-house capabilities than solo-practitioners and boutique agencies, but keep in mind that as an agency gets larger, generally account managers with less experience begin to receive more responsibility and high-level professionals touch each client account less.
National Agency: If you represent a company or organization that is substantial in size, nationally known with locations in multiple areas around the country, a national agency that also has multiple locations may be the best fit. A national agency may already possess vast media relationships with important stakeholders around the country, while a regional agency may have less of an ability to sustain media relations in different parts of the country.
Digital-First Agency: With the rise of technology and importance of digital communications, some agencies have been created that are focused mainly on the digital side of marketing. If your focus is on strategy and awareness in the digital landscape, including social platforms, a digital agency is important to consider. Watch outs: If you need other traditional public relations or marketing efforts, you may have to identify a different/partner agency to do that which could lead to less-cohesive overall efforts.
To select the right agency partner, you must truly understand your needs. And it’s not solely about an agency’s capabilities– personalities are a huge component. Consider interviewing several agencies before you commit; you may love the agency, but realize that the personalities that would be managing your account simply wouldn’t jive with your existing team. The more you know about an agency before you commit, the better decision you will make, so don’t feel pressured into rushing the process. Just as you want an agency that is a good fit, agencies are looking for the same thing in clients. Being thorough in your exploratory phase will benefit everyone involved.