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.