It may seem like a bit of a departure to say a marketing agency’s culture matters when you’re choosing a group to work with. That thought couldn’t be farther from the truth. How an agency communicates with its employees and clients; shares recognition, accolades and success with those that contributed to it; and sets and manages their values and priorities, among many other processes, funnels all the way down to the relationship they build with you and the implementation and quality of deliverables they are committed to.
While much more goes into creating a positive culture, learning where a marketing agency stands on these items will give you better insight into how your relationship will develop long-term and if and how all deliverables will be accomplished.
Core Values – One of the first questions you should ask a marketing agency you’re considering working with is: what are your core values? If you get a blank stare, run! As we all know, values set the tone for what is expected of a team and company, what the company places a priority on as well as where they’re headed. At LŪM Studio, our values are front and center. We discuss them as a team and refer to them regularly in conversations with clients. They impact nearly every decision we make and every interaction we have. From our Value Statement, you can learn, among other things, that we’re committed to creating and having positive relationships and experiences, we value being bold and courageous, and we are committed to transparency and communication.
Communication – As you’re searching for a marketing firm, make sure you ask about communication tools and processes used. Ensure that the tools are what works best for your team, and if it’s different than your own style, ask about the flexibility to connect a different way. Additionally, learn how many times you’ll be meeting during a given period, how often you can anticipate hearing from the agency, and how they handle immediate and non-emergent requests. Try to get an understanding of the type of communicator the team is and the value they place on communication. In order for your marketing program and campaigns to be successful, you want a marketing agency that has clear definitions of these tools and processes they use to communicate and places a high priority on information flow.
Transparency – Understanding how less than positive news will be shared and how things like scope changes will be requested is important to how your client-agency relationship will develop. Anything less than a transparent and direct approach will not serve you well. It will cause confusion and waste your time and money. Few people I know like to give bad news or negotiate more money based on additional change requests, but at times it’s a requirement of the work and relationship. Additionally, transparency impacts much more like the rights you’ll have to the work completed on your behalf and the metrics being tracked to prove an agency’s success.
Quality – To get the best grasp on an agency’s commitment to quality, ask for samples of their work as well as references. To go even further and get a more authentic view of their deliverables, search the company’s portfolio page and reach out to other companies and people that have worked with the agency. Additionally, ask questions about specific processes and situations. For example, ask each agency you’re visiting with to explain how they ensure quality before materials are submitted to you or distributed publicly or what the protocol would be if something is distributed without your approval and/or with an error. While these answers won’t prove their ability to develop quality work, it will help you understand the value they place on it.
Onboarding & Changes – Just like dating, everyone is on their best behavior at the beginning of a relationship. If there is not great emphasis placed on creating a strong partnership and foundation, there likely will never be. A thoughtful, effective approach to onboarding and strategy should be easy to articulate to you. How will the agency ensure everyone involved is on the same page and that the entire team is working toward the same goals? And even more, how will the team handle it when changes are requested?
Company culture impacts how an agency makes decisions, the way it interacts with you and how your deliverables are produced. At the least, ensure you have an understanding of these five areas that will affect the success and experience of working with a marketing agency.
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