Company Seeking Long Term Relationship with Talented Agency Finding “the one” is hard, especially if you’ve never worked with an agency before.
And hey, maybe working with an agency isn’t for you and your business. That’s okay. We just hope this blog post can help answer some of the more common questions that arise for small to mid-size businesses considering hiring an agency. So, do you need an agency? Let’s first start with what you’re looking for.
We’ve outlined some standard profiles for small to mid-size businesses that may be ready for an agency, here:
Established Small to Mid-size Company
Seeking Agency as…
- Duties of marketing are getting too complex, need to add more depth and resources
- Need a new perspective/refresh current positioning, marketing programs/campaigns
- Not wanting to disrupt other company workflows
Small to mid-size Company
Seeking an Agency to Help…
- Build a foundation/platform to present your products/services to the market
- Define brand position/go to market, develop creative assets, messaging/channel selection, and how to assess effectiveness
- Adding skills to team, discipline of approach, more marketing experience, more resources
Company Entering the Market
Seeks Agency to…
- Augment existing team in support of expansion to new markets
- Provide experience related to new market, insights
- Deliver competitive analysis and insights
But how do you pick the right agency for your business?
It starts with defining what your branding and marketing needs are as different agency types offer different services. We’ve provided a quick overview of the three most common agency types you’ll encounter in your search: creative agencies, consulting firms, and hybrid agencies.
- Boutique specialists to broad full service: there’s an agency out there for any need
- Often have strength in a particular skilled area (i.e. graphic design, digital, PR, etc.)
- Often have strength in an industry vertical or channel (i.e. retail, B2B, consumer markets )
- They may not have experience in your market
- They may be unable to add skills and services as needs evolve
- Execution or strategist? Agencies have differing levels of each. Most agencies claim to offer some degree of strategic advising
- Project or retainer based
- Offer strategic guidance and help executing
- Typically specific areas in which the firm is more skilled, capable or knowledgeable
- Can lead or be a complement to an existing team
- May have a better overall knowledge of the market by being able to develop strategy and execute in a manner that considers best practices but is also creative and unique for the client
- A firm able to deliver with a depth of knowledge on; strategy and execution, digital and traditional, as well as experience with consumer and B2B markets is rare
- Can be a retainer with room for special projects to be added as needed
- Marketing consultants often do strategic positioning, brand development, market research and (maybe) planning
- Facilitate and involvement in changing a company’s direction, change management expertise, more project management, more analytically inclined
- Can have very deep experience in select skilled areas, industry verticals or channels. Areas of expertise may be more analytical in nature vs. creative which tends to be more of an agency
- May not offer support executing the strategy
- More often a project focus but may offer ongoing advising via a retainer
If you are clear about products, markets, who your best customers are and some understanding about why they buy, then we recommend choosing a creative agency. You’ll need strong creative and creative processes, which creative agencies are known for. If you’re unsure about target markets, which products to offer, and to who and why they should be targeted, go with a strategic marketing or consulting firm. You’ll need an agency with strong research, analysis, and planning skills. If you need strategic direction, creative execution and bringing it all together in a cohesive well managed program – we recommend choosing a hybrid agency which is the only agency type the specializes in both strategy and creative execution.
Confluence Digital is a hybrid agency as we offer both strategy and creative execution. We’ve developed our Brand Activism™ methodology for activating brands. This involves conducting proprietary market research to gain deep insights into the motivations of the target market. We then work with the senior management team to develop the brand positioning. With our client’s positioning and market needs known we translate the brand position into creative assets. In parallel we begin work on messaging and evaluating marketing channels for their effectiveness at engaging the targeted market. Lastly we collaborate with the management team on defining a suitable set of key performance indicators. The Brand Activism™ approach ensures the entire marketing system is aligned with company strategy. By continually assessing performance we’re able to make modifications based on facts about a market, not guesses.