Updated: Aug 19, 2019
I talk to businesses all the time and one of the biggest frustrations they have is selecting the right marketing agency for their business. In this series I highlight some useful recommendations to suit most businesses and most budgets.
So where do you start when it comes to marketing agencies? Well, cheapest isn't always best. I would strongly recommend obtaining several quotes for the work you need. And its here where the problems can start.
Some basic rules
Firstly don't expect agencies to produce a fully personalised proposal with time consuming creative ideas thrown in for free. Time is money here.
Expect agencies to produce a scoped proposal with approximate costs
You won't get page designs for the website or logo ideas for a brand without some cost for the creative being covered by you
Ensure your own stakeholders expectations are set early on around what to expect from the brief process
Always arrange a face-to-face meeting with your chosen shortlist agencies to scope things out
Produce a detailed brief so the agency can provide an accurate initial cost
And every agency must have the same brief. Apples must be apples!
Then cross reference each proposal checking the detail and most importantly that the content of your brief has been covered.
So with years of valuable experience who would I stick my neck out for? Well I would say there are quite a few good agencies about, but as with most things you should always do your homework. It's fair to say an agency with experience of your sector would hit the ground running far quicker than one who hasn't. Check out their portfolios. You will soon see if all the RAR awards they have mean something relevant to you and your business...
Top 3 Brand Agencies (& Freelancers)
My suggestions here include a freelancer who I worked with for a number of years. So I would say a good freelancer can be just as good as an agency. I have made these three recommendations because getting brand work right for any new or existing business is difficult and can make or break a business if you get it wrong, and these three have taken the pain out of the process to such an extent I would have no hesitation in recommending them. Between them they have covered just about every sector going across both B2B and B2C. Tuck in...
1. BE STUDIOS
Wendy and Mike are based in Northern Ireland and are instinctive designers. They just get it. They work brilliantly on new brand identities and established brands who need design for campaigns and collateral.
Donal is a talented designer and really understands about brand. He has worked for many businesses like Speechly Bircham, award winning Business Environment and Savills.
Paula Allibone really understands the detail around brand. Whats great about Paula is her instinctive ability to produce brilliant work that gets you thinking and is often not what you expected but is spot on!
Top 3 Digital Agencies
None of my three recommendations are just based in London. Whilst they have offices there these brilliant companies are based in places like Manchester and Norwich. Between them they have many sectors covered and I have worked with them in a number of capacities for a few years now. The process of selecting an agency should be taken seriously. After all you are about to commit a large portion of your marketing budget so you need to make sure it is the right decision.
Do your research, look at their work and how relevant it is to your business. Then try and articulate what you want them to do for you. My recommendation would be to talk to them face to face and see how they fit with your culture and ethos. Ask questions about how they would help you and delve in to their case studies and campaign results.
Take a look at these three options:
Based in Norwich and London, these guys have an impressive track record of delivering results for businesses that have worked with them for some time. Great at strategy and campaign delivery and look at their awards!
Hallam are based in Nottingham and have a really good understanding about SEO and I have to say are great at paid search too. With lots of great clients like the BBC they really opened our eyes around digital campaign work.
3. VENN DIGITAL
Based in Manchester, bravery really does enable everything. Venn are great at suggesting innovative stuff that works. Their CMS (Apteve) is really easy to use. Not the cheapest but certainly worth the investment.
Doing your due diligence
Recommendations are all very well but I have always been an advocate of thoroughly researching agencies to find the right one for your business. Sometimes an agency with little sector specific experience can work well as they will be keen to do a good job. Equally an agency with lots of sector specific experience may be a disadvantage. What are they able to deliver that's new and innovative?
The best thing to do for any marketing work that needs an agency is to develop a shortlist of about 5 or 6 possible agencies and get your team to review each one and rank them against a set of agreed criteria. Then taking each persons ranking weight the average and agree your top 2 or three to approach for a proposal.
Download a FREE example of a digital agency review below. The content is for illustrative purposes and is largely made up to demonstrate the detail you need to go in to to get this process right. Good luck.
HELP WITH TRAINING
I offer a free training review providing guidance on what to do first and how to keep team members on track. He also offers a number of workshops covering brand, automation, social media, PR management, ROI and measuring performance.
For a no obligation chat contact me on 07984 077838.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Stephen Moore FCIM, a Strategic Marketing Consultant and part-time Marketing Director living in beautiful Suffolk. I support businesses large and small in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and London. I have been writing about marketing developments for 20 years with articles in The Metro, City AM, Fresh Business Thinking, AllWork, The Marketer and Marketing Week.