Reason #10: The agency has a great reputation. Or buzz.
When a small or midsize marketer in any category realizes (or admits) they need to hire an agency, the first conception of the choice may hinge on a simple condition: the type of buzz or reputation that agency has gained in recent weeks or months. Whether it’s in that particular market, or in that particular vertical, or for a certain proficiency the agency has been noted for, some industry buzz may be enough attraction to consider hiring them.
As I mentioned in the reason #8 post, an agency can generate a fair amount of buzz for work it recently did for a client…either the client was very notable (read: large) or the work itself was effective enough to move the needle and grab some attention. [Of course, the agency may have itself a good PR department, and was smart about getting some clippings.]
An agency can also become known for a certain kind of reputation in the business. What kinds of reputations can an agency have? Some are known for producing great creative product. (Most want to be.) Some are known to be social media leaders. Some are known to be brand experts. Some are known to be super proficient in direct marketing. Some will save you lots of money on media buying by virtue of their processes. Some have a notable executive. Some are known to have a “folksy” attitude. Some are known because they have the coolest office space. Some because they’re just huge and can handle a global product launch in 26 languages. Some focus on very specific niches, like challenger brands, or multi-channel retail.
Hiring an agency for any one of these reasons is a decent course of action for small to midsize marketers. To borrow vernacular from Newton’s First Law of Motion, an agency that’s hot tends to stay hot. So it’s likely that if you hire an agency because they have a great reputation that’s built on solid work, there’s a good chance they’ll do solid work for you and your brand. Hire an agency because they’re breaking new ground in social, there’s a good bet they’ll develop a cool social program for your brand, too.
Again – and you may have noticed a theme here throughout these 10 in 10 posts – most of how your relationship with an agency will evolve is dependent on you (the marketer) and what you bring to the relationship. In some sense, it’s about how you choose an agency partner…we’ve recently explored a 10-pack of possible avenues.
In another sense, (once you have chosen an agency,) it’s a willingness to participate fully in the relationship – to allow your agency partner to take some chances and explore some uncharted territories.
In both instances, the key to unlocking all the potential in the world from your agency partner will always lie with an understanding of your customers, and anticipating their needs before they even begin to articulate them. Make sure your agency gets THAT, and it won’t matter what the reason was that you hired them in the first place.