How to Hire A Digital Ad Agency

April 7, 2010

This article is included in these additional categories:

Agency Business | Creative & Formats | Media & Entertainment | Promotions, Coupons & Co-op | Staffing | Technology

Hiring a digital ad agency is not easy, but asking the right questions can help ensure success.

Smart companies looking to sign on with one should pepper their prospective vendors with questions. But not just any questions. As reported by MarketingVOX, executives from several digital agencies and marketers have offered their advice on the best queries a potential client can make to determine they are a good match.

Sven Larsen, chief marketing officer of Zemoga, a digital marketing firm that has created campaigns for Yahoo, HBO, Sears, Viacom and Toyota, suggests asking the following.

1. If you had unlimited resources and budget, what would you create to promote the brand? A really good agency will have hundreds of answers prepared for this question, Larsen says. “It will help you gauge what risks the agency is willing to take for the sake of innovation. An agency’s ability to not only predict future trends, but incorporate them into a successful marketing strategy is crucial.”

2. Do you collaborate well? Sometimes, agencies are hired to fulfill a task that can’t be done in-house. This usually means that a creative strategy has already been established by an internal marketing team, he says. “An agency needs to be flexible enough to execute a project within these guidelines, which may lay the groundwork for increased partnership in the future,” Larsen says.

3. Whose work or what campaigns, other than your own, do you admire? An agency that is constantly monitoring its competitors will make sure that they’re producing the most cutting-edge marketing solutions for their clients, Larsen says. “They have a good handle on what strategies are successful, as well as what strategies have failed. They set lofty goals and come out with breakthrough products to maximize your business.”

4. How do you measure your success? This one might catch the agency off-guard, Larsen warns. “You’ll get to observe the balance between the value of numbers and statistics versus the value of creativity and innovation.” It will also give you some insight into how the agency works and whether the key players are creative or analytical, he adds.

5. What are some of your creative initiatives in social media? By now, social media has become an integral part of a brand’s marketing strategy – which often leads to a “been there, done that” mentality among its usual proponents. “An agency’s ability to take something old and reinvent it demonstrates the staying power of its campaigns,” Larsen says.

6. What is your approach to user experience? Ask how much time and resources are devoted to ensuring that the end-user has a positive experience of the product and how that is measured, he advises. “Good agencies try to please the client. Better agencies try to please both the client and the consumer. The best agencies find and new and exciting way to do it.”

CRM Integration

It would also benefit companies to ask how well a digital marketing company can integrate into related IT infrastructure at the client company, says Justin Gray, CEO and Chief Brand Officer of MaaS Impact. To that end, he suggests asking:

7. How do your services integrate with our current CRM system? Integration is critical to leverage your existing investments. “You don’t want to create silos.”

8. How will sales interact with and provide feedback on the marketing cycle? Most organizations view sales and marketing as separate departments, he says. “There must be a clear path of communication to between the two or you are shooting in the dark.”

Nuts and bolts issues are important as well, he says, suggesting the following questions to ask:

9. How can we maintain control without living in meeting hell? “You are investing in digital marketing to increase revenue – you can’t afford to add baby sitting fees on top.”

10. And most fundamentally, what is the average ROI? “This question must be factored into any marketing initiative to justify the investment.”

11. Also in the category of fundamentals is what social media platforms will work best for a particular company or product or campaign, says Clay Dollarhide, the director of Digital Marketing and Public Relations for mPRm Public Relations. “A big mistake a lot of folks get into is they feel they need to be everywhere and on every social media platform, which means they end up spreading themselves too thin and therefore not able to penetrate any of the social media platforms in a substantial way.

“Have a discussion with your digital marketing agencies to see where they think your campaign could really succeed within the social media realm and not to feel obligated to have a Facebook fanpage because everyone else has one.”

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