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How do you know you have the right Integrated Marketing Communications Agency?

DirectTalk with Winnifred

The communication industry is either restructuring, re-engineering or re-something-or-other. And with so many breakaway agencies popping up weekly - the question is asked more and more, how do I choose the right agency and do I have the right agency on board.

A communications agency that can work with me to write an all-inclusive marketing strategy that links in with my business and management strategy. An agency that understands my business and that will produce programs that are measurable and will meet my company's business objectives.

This is a crucially important decision for any company!
So what do you do? There are ways to choose an appropriate agency that can deliver the strategic thinking, creative talent and fresh ideas that you need - in a manner and at a price that makes it cost-effective, no matter how much you spend for the services!

A quick checklist to know whether you need another agency or if you need a change?

  • You have a tight deadline and your agency can't help and their creative staff is overworked.
  • You have an agency, but the bills have been unpredictable, they have gone over budget, and/or you are not getting the results you know you should get.
  • You suspect that you are not getting full value out of your marketing efforts and you need objective thinking. They are continuously re-inventing the wheel.
  • You feel they are not contributing to your business through innovative marketing ideas.
  • You don't see enough of top management. They have lost their professionalism and ability to understand the changes in your business.

They have lost their problem solving ability, interest and enthusiasm.
Generally their standards have dropped.

  • You are not convinced that what has been produced is doing justice to your product, your services and your company's bottom line.

If you have checked off any one of the above, follow this guide for hiring
an agency to help you achieve your marketing - and business goals.

Six steps to choose the agency that is right for you

  1. Define your objectives for the agency and your marketing programs in line with your business strategy.
  2. Listen to the agency and take notes during their presentation - see if you have learned anything new.
  3. Look at them - do you like the way they present themselves and their work?
  4. Look at their work - do you like the work you are looking at?
  5. Read their work - you are looking for an agency that have the ability to give you a solid strategy and the ability to create and communicate ideas that will sell your products and services.
  6. Ask questions - this is an interview!

Ten Questions to ask

  1. A complete active client list and how long they have worked with them. Also their past clients and why they have left.
  2. How old the agency is. Young or old doesn't necessarily mean good or
    bad, however find out about their experience.
  3. How big the agency is. Is it too big to give you senior level personal attention, or too small to have the resources for a demanding measurable program. What are their billings and what proportion would your company represent.
  4. Who would work on your account? Who is the account director and are the creative team permanent or freelancing. Permanent staff normally works better as a team.
  5. Ask about their technological capabilities. What is being done in-house and what is out-sourced.
  6. Ask what experience they have in your particular market and particular marketing disciplines. What information and insight can they bring to the table that you don't already have?
  7. What experience do they have outside of your market? Is it the same that everybody else is doing or fresh ideas and insights.
  8. Does the agency favour one particular medium or can they work effectively across all mediums. Do they have an integrated marketing communications approach?
  9. How do they bill? By the hour, job, project, retainer - and is it linked to measurable results?
  10. Ask for references. Will they give you the names of active and past clients?

One of the best tips I can give you is - Word of Mouth
There is no substitute for a good referral. Ask your colleagues in the business. Call associations you belong to or check industry magazines and newsletters and ask for a referral list. Explain what you are looking for. Give a brief idea of the kind of project, or what your requirements are. That way, your informant can give you a more relevant referral.

And another tip. When you have chosen your team of specialists - treat them well and be loyal. Because loyal providers - like loyal employees - create loyal customers.

Winnifred Knight
Director and Owner -
Mobile: 082 575 9922

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