How to Hire An Agency?

How to Hire An Agency?

Hiring an agency sounds simple. But it isn’t. Not when you think about the custard soup of firms that make up the agency landscape.

One big melting pot of award-winning, full-service agency partners to help with your marketing challenge.

You know it won’t be straightforward the second you hit Google and your search results are in the billions.

To help get your agency ducks lined up, here’s a 13-step process on how to hire an agency that’ll get you from start to finish. Follow this, and you’ll nail your agency procurement problem in no time.

1. Define a good brief, which must clearly define the challenge you are trying to overcome, your target audience, your budget and how you will measure success.

2. Identify the characteristics of the right agency to create a supplier specification—factors like sector and discipline expertise, size of agency, location, PI coverage etc.

3. Map out your process. I’m assuming you want to run a pitch because most client-side marketers do, and it’s a good way of separating the good from the average. Run your pitch over three months.

4. Put items 1-3 together into a request for information document, aka an RFI. You will use this document to invite agencies to submit their information as part of your shortlisting process.

5. Research a long list of agency candidates. You can use Google, of course, but also talk to your network to get some recommendations, as this will reduce your workload.

6. Contact your long list of agencies and send them your RFI. You don’t want them to pitch at this stage, but submit a short document with their credentials.

7. Review your RFI submissions and form a shortlist of 3-5 agencies you would like to pitch for your business.

8. Prepare a request for proposal (RFP) document. This details the pitch process and the criterion for judging any pitches you receive. Send this RFP to your shortlisted agencies. Let those on the long list know they have not been invited to pitch.

Important: Please don’t ask for lots of creative output unless you want to pay for it. You can assess creativity on past projects. Evaluate how they approach the pitch process, their team’s skill sets, the performance of previous campaigns and the chemistry you build.  

9. Allow every agency to spend time with you and your senior team before they pitch. Use this to get to know the shortlisted agencies better. Coordinate the process well and give every agency a fair crack of the whip.

10. Listen to the pitch presentations. Be kind. Give credit and feedback where it’s due, and assess each presentation based on your criterion. Take notes so you can refer to them when necessary. Ensure you properly assess any case studies presented, they are recent, and the team working on those clients is still at the agency. Check the references provided as quickly as possible. 

11. Contract the winning agency quickly. Make sure you agree on the scope of work and negotiate on the pricing, terms and KPIs. Get the contract signed and sorted.

12. Feedback to the losing agencies. Don’t BS them. They did not all come a close second. Tell them why they lost out so they can improve for their next pitch.

13. Get started with your new agency. They will probably have a kick-off and onboarding process to take you through, and you should follow this carefully. Review performance after three months and iron out any teething problems. Move forward with the agreed scope of work and KPIs, and, for goodness’ sake, invest in your relationship. Always treat the agency team respectfully; I promise this will pay dividends.

There you have it; 13 steps on how to hire an agency to help solve your marketing challenge. We hope you find this useful.

We manage agency procurement for client-side marketers. Get in touch here if you would like any implementing this process.