The qualities you should be looking for in a Marketing Agency

The qualities you should be looking for in a Marketing Agency.

Ariadna Grau (Ari) has more than ten years experience as a Brand Manager in the Beauty and Food industry. I recently joined Prospekt Agency, where we work with a lot of Brand Managers, so I wanted to get Ari’s take on what it’s like.

We spent two hours on google meet talking about her experience. I could have talked for much longer, but I had the job of condensing the interview into a blog post. I actually ended up splitting the blog post into four segments.

  1. The definition of brand and the role of a Brand Manager
  2. The qualities you should be looking for in a Marketing Agency (this blog post)
  3. Knowing when an idea is good
  4. The demands on brands in a world where everyone has a voice

There are so many marketing agencies out there, I wanted to know what constitutes a good agency.

Qualities of a good Marketing Agency

Ari started by saying they should LISTEN more than they talk. This reminded me of the saying “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason”.

Ari continued to say that they should come to a meeting prepared. They should know your product and have a basic understanding of your audience.

It’s flattering if the agency creates something using the product or brand for the first meeting. I like being surprised.

Ari prefers to work with specialists rather than all-rounders to get the best results. It’s important to her that they still understand the big picture though. She doesn’t expect them to be experts in the product – that’s her job – but they should be experts in their own field and understand the same message needs communicating no matter how many agencies are involved.

Ari noted three core qualities of a good agency:

  • Open
  • Trustworthy
  • Adaptable

Openness and trust go hand in hand. You should say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say you can deliver on time and on budget, you should. This shows you know what you’re capable of and makes you credible as an agency.

Brand Managers have a lot of stakeholders involved in their projects and you (the agency) are just one part. They need to know they can rely on you to uphold their reputation internally. They are the ones who suffer the consequences if deadlines are missed or budgets are stretched.

Agencies must be ready for changes to the Brief

Brands often have to do things simultaneously to meet the tight timelines they’re faced with, and they may find that after testing the product or packaging it doesn’t work.

This is hard enough to hear as it is, without their marketing agency being completely inflexible.

They need agencies to be empathetic and understanding. At the end of the day, you’re all working together to deliver what the market wants. And we’ve seen, with the coronavirus, how the market can change at the blink of an eye.

This is where openness plays an important role, too. The client has to be as open with the agency, as the agency is with them. If the client helps their agency to understand the internal processes and treats them as part of the team this should go some way to breeding trust.

Bad Marketing Agencies

Ari isn’t a fan of empty promises or half truths. Some agencies will say they can do everything, or talk too much about themselves, which is an instant turn-off. As is an agency that uses too many buzzwords.

If they come into pitch and say everything you want to hear, I know there’s something wrong.

Ari values an agency with substance. She expects agencies to prove there is more behind their words by using data and real examples wherever possible.

So, how do you find the good guys?

Ari said it was hard to tell a good agency from a bad one at the beginning, especially when you get the ones who say all the right things in their sales pitch.

Her typical approach is to test new agencies with small, pilot projects to see how they perform first.

Finding a new marketing agency to partner with is a bit like dating; you try them out a few times first to see how it works.

If the agency passes the test and she considers them to have the qualities she’s looking for in a partner, she trusts them with more of her projects, and at some point they become part of the family.

So, now we know what Ari looks for in her Agency selection process, what qualities do you care about? Add your comments below.

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