What to Look for in an Agency Partner

When it comes to content and design work, finding the right agency partner for your unique needs presents both challenges and opportunities. Not all agencies are alike, so knowing what to look for will help ensure the success of your partnership.

Factors like trust, flexibility, capability, capacity, and shared values can make all the difference. So, whether you have a quick-turnaround design project or need ongoing, dedicated copywriting help, here’s what to look for when choosing a marketing agency.

Look for indicators of trust

Though it may take time to build trust with an agency, there are qualities you can look for while you’re still exploring a potential partnership. Specifically, good communication, preparation, and follow-through are excellent indicators that you’re dealing with a partner you can trust.

Communication: The importance of communication is self-evident in any partnership. When you’re working with a creative agency, you want to make sure you’re on the same page and any issues or questions are addressed early and openly. This is key to producing timely work that meets your needs and specifications. When meeting with an agency, consider the following:
Are they listening to what you are saying?
Do they understand and empathize with your needs?
Do they add value, insights, and options?

Preparation: When an agency is prepared — whether for a meeting or a follow-up email — it helps build confidence in their readiness and seriousness. Consider the following questions to help evaluate preparation upon meeting with a potential agency partner:
Did the agency anticipate the questions you had?
Were they knowledgeable about your company and work?
Do they have the appropriate contract or statement of work (SOW) ready to go?

Follow-through: Follow-through can be gauged early on from your requests for more information or sample work that you send to a potential partner to evaluate their abilities. If there is consistent follow-through, you develop trust and can rest assured that your work is getting done.

Seek flexibility

Organizations often need to change course as priorities shift and new opportunities arise. As your organization or team implements change, you need a partner that is willing to adapt. This can make all the difference when you’re growing a business in a changing market. Thus, it’s best to look for a partner that is flexible and able to change course with you.

Being flexible often requires agency partners to provide services in multiple ways, depending on your needs at the time. For example, if you start out with a short-term project but later decide that you need dedicated resources for ongoing, long-term work, check if the agency has this kind of flexibility.

Specifically, look for a flexible resourcing model that includes different ways of working with the agency. It may include the following options:

1. Pay-as-you-use

When you have a specific project that needs to be completed, this model allows you to assemble your team based on the time and materials, or on deliverables. This is a standard agency model where you only pay for the resources you use. It’s great for short-term projects and unpredictable workstreams.

2. Reserved studio capacity

If you want standby capacity for your projects, you may want to reserve the time of experienced team members and build an on-demand extension of your marketing and creative team. This is most useful when you need fast delivery, flexibility of requests, predictable and defined costs, and 100% priority and on-demand support.

3. Embedded people

For full immersion on your team, agencies may provide embedded team members to work side-by-side with you. These team members would be 100% dedicated to your business, and they may work with your internal tools, systems, and processes. In addition to seamless immersion, this model allows for faster delivery timelines, flexibility of requests, predictable and defined budgets, and 100% priority and on-demand support.

“Look for partners who have the resources and capabilities to support your team not only now, but also in the future.”

Evaluate capability and capacity

Rather than having to manage multiple vendors, it’s more efficient (and often, more cost effective) to work with one digital marketing agency that has the capacity to grow with your team and provide a range of capabilities. For example, a marketing project consisting of website copy or case studies will not only require writing, but also design, strategy, and project management.

Look for partners who have the resources and capabilities to support your team not only now, but also in the future. You might initially need copywriting resources for your projects, but then need to add design work down the road. Having these resources under one roof — at one agency — will provide a more efficient and seamless experience as your strategy and needs evolve.

It’s best to work with an agency that recognizes the benefit of having a variety of capabilities and the capacity to grow with your needs. Look for creative marketing agencies with experienced strategists, marketers, creatives, and digital experts who will feel like a natural extension of your team. Their capabilities may include the following:

Strategy and planning: From defining goals to zeroing in on tactics and channels, strategists will help you create — and refine — marketing campaigns that fuel progress.
Design: Designers bring your vision to life with on-brand visuals and animations that meet your goals.
Content: Content strategists, writers, and editors will help you create content that inspires and converts, always keeping your target audience front and center.
Digital: Digital experts will help you plan and execute marketing automation and digital campaigns using your tech stack to its full potential.
Production: Your producer keeps your team and projects organized and delivered on time, ensuring everything is clearly communicated from kick-off to the finish line.

Make sure your values align

Whether you value accountability, collaboration, or a people-first mentality, finding an agency partner that shares your values will lead to a more successful partnership. Check the agency’s mission and any values articulated on their website, not only to see if they align with your values, but also to see if they’re consistent with your experience in dealing with the agency. Do they share your values, and are they living up to them? While this may be difficult to assess at first, you can ask the agency directly about the values that matter to you.

Keeping these factors in mind will help you find the best marketing agency for your organization. You’ll be in a better position to succeed when you build a partnership that is based on trust and aligns with your values while providing flexibility, capability, and capacity.

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Featured FLEX Model

Our people. Your extended team.

Every team and business goal is unique — we built our flexible resourcing model with this in mind. Need support on a single project? Maybe you need reserved and guaranteed capacity? Or a fully-embedded team of people? A mix of all three? We’ll help you determine what your extended team looks like.