6Ps of How to Select an Agency for the Digital Age

In this digital focused marketing minefield, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find and select an agency either for a long term relationship or to drive a special project – be it for website design and development, apps, mobile marketing, Search or Social. Post the RFP and the Response to it, or post the initial pitch, how does a brand manager make a choice? How does one appraise the agency?

Here's a quick guide – it's called the 6Ps to selecting an agency that will work with you on your 'digital' project.

6Ps of Selecting an agency for the Digital Age


Has the response to the RFP or the pitch presentation adequately 
demonstrated a clear understanding of what you need done – as per your 
brief or RFP? Is there clarity on how the project will be managed, who 
will work on it, how much time it will need, will it be tested, will 
it be done in-house or managed via outsource etc. Most importantly, is 
there a clear understanding of the scope of work, and at least an 
outline of the content map, or project definition has been provided.


Does the agency understand what you need and are able to process that 
information correctly? Or did they go off brief? Are they able to put 
a thorough and rigid process in place to follow through and deliver on 
your project requirements? Have they defined how and who will work in 
that process, what your involvement is as a brand? Has the agency 
outlined who delivers what and when? Who is responsible for which bits 
of content – who manages all the assets (all the things that make up 
the content)? Is there a clear dependency guideline – and an 
indication of what costs are included, what costs may come up as 
extras? When you get 'everything' is included thrown in, look again.


Who is going to be your key team? Who was in the pitch or the RFP 
document? Google them accurately. How long have they been in the 
business? What is their LinkedIn profile? Are they well established 
and well known? What is their experience? Have they worked on similar 
projects? Check out people's credibility. You're not handing over your 
dream project to an agency brand, you're going to work with people. 
Check them out. In this digital age, a lot of people have suddenly 
gone 'digital'. Avoid the people pitfall. Work with the best. And 
always ask about who's going to work with you. Agencies often fly in 
top guns just for the pitch. Watch out for the fly squad. Ask for real 
people with real creds.


Was the Response to the RFP or the actual pitch interesting? Was the 
pitch professional? Detailed? Looked good? Or was it prepared and put 
together last moment? Did it look high quality? If the pitch looks 
good, your work will; usually look good. If the pitch or RRFP is 
strategically sound, your project will reflect that. The team that 
puts in a lot of effort into the pitch documet, and shows you high 
quality near-finished work is the one that will work best.


This is the most difficult one to tick the box on, but pricing is 
often seen as the number one decision point. That's wrong. Pricing 
should be fair, deliver on value, and be in the ballpark that you 
think is right in the market trend. Keep wiggle room in pricing. Allow 
to add 10-15% for experience and expertise value. There's always a 
cost to someone who has years of experience on projects – and you'll 
get ROI on that in your project. Take away 5% if the agency has given 
extras that are expensive. This means they're making money on it. 
Finally, watch out for the all-inclusive, we will do everything deal. 
This means the agency is making money on everything! The best 
submissions are ones that have pricing broken down and explained, and 
all extras mentioned separately and costed.


You cannot put a price on this. Did the team show passion for the 
project or the brand? Were they enthusiastic? Did they go beyond the 
brief? Did you see details that show care and value addition? Did the 
team look hungry and keen for your piece of business? Did they follow 
up? Was the response to your request prompt and courteous? Did you 
feel the right chemistry? Passion makes a big difference. Seek it out. 
Reward it.

Innovations_Digital looking for summer interns from ASD

This is so cool...


Custom URL's and how they work

Dos Equis, the Mexican beer brand, has recently launched an interesting user-generated video based social media campaign called “The Most INteresting Toast in the World”. Quirky, cool, and typically very Mexican beer-ish, the campaign is just about to really gain traction. What’s intersting is the fact that Dos Equis is driving the campaign via a ‘custom’ URL – one that actually uses their tag line: www.staythirstymyfriends.com

Now, that’s not the first time brands choose to use custom URLs for campaigns than use main-brand URL’s with /subdomains. Another beer giant Carib went earlier with passdcarib.com – nice again, call to action built into the domain. Like that.

There are some financial institutions who turn their slogans into URLs — like Mastercard who uses Priceless.com as its consumer-facing website — but the overwhelming majority don’t. For instance, BofA doesn’t own BankOfOpportunity.com. Similarly, neitherTheNextStage.com nor WithYouWhen.com point to Wells Fargo. It’s not just banks and credit unions blowing this opportunity either. The Domain Name Marketing blog points outthat ItsMillerTime.com, DriversWanted.com and, yes, even JustDoIt.com aren’t used by the brands that coined these memorable expressions.

The main reason for a brand using a custom domain or URL rather than the main brand URL is because usually, the main brand is either a boring name, or is a group domain name, or worse, does not really align the product with the brand domain. But really, let’s face it a catchy tagline, a call to action, a slogan surely makes a better domain name – and one that’s usually easier to remember.

Micrsoites or special landing pages have tremendous potential and work much, much harder than a “What’s New” display banner tucked away into one corner on the main website. Giving a campaign, specially one that’s digital-centric and built around social media a custom domain name would be so nowthatsmakingmarketingwork.com

SEO Simplified

Organic search or SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can really be made uncomplicated – simple – if it's understood what it's really there for. Often performance driven agencies over-complicate things for clients trying to make it into a science. Of course it is science, but it can be simple.

Well, first things first. Get your content right on your owned media. Your content needs to be compelling, intersting and totally relevant to the what the target audience is looking for. The more relevant the content is, and the more the content, the more search engines will be able to deliver. And not only do you need to get the right content on your websites, microsites, portals, blogs, whatever, you need to keep at it. Getting it right and forgetting it is useless. Regularity of updating your information is key.

"If you build it they will come" doesn't quite wotk when it comes to search marketing. Unless you tell them about what you've built, it all remains a hidden gem. So, you do need to support it by telling the world. You can used Paid media to kick off your "tell the world" campaign, but there are so many channels available to us today. Your twitter and facebook feeds, your updates on Foursquare, your connections on LinkedIn. And then of course, get your friends and colleagues, and staff and their friends to tweet and facebook about your web presence whenever possible. Let them tell the world.

In SEO, an interesting, relevant Title Tag is crucial. This is what appears when someone finds your brand/page/blog on a Search Engine page (it's called an SERP or a Search Engine Results Page). This is what people first see when they google you. It is the link they will click on– or not, so get this spot on. This is your copy headline. This is what all good ads are made of – the magic key.

Along with the Title Tag, the meta description tag is also important. This is the brief description (usually one or two lines at most) that appears on the Search Engine result page just below the title tag. You could write this like a sub-headline or even a call to action. While a meta tag has no real SEO page position benefit, a compelling read often will add to your chances of getting clicked through.

SEO, after that is really about the right keywords throughout your site. Make sure that all the right words that describe what you are selling on the site are covered. What will a consumer type in to google when looking for your product or a competitor's? What are related words? What are the right phrases, what are things that could be used as keywords that aren't directly related but could be used as triggers? At the end of the day, if you've ben able to weave these in, you've made a good start. It's not really that simple, but it does not need to be complicated either. That's a start...