Too often companies end up hiring the agency that is best at writing RFPs and pitch decks instead of the one that can drive your KPIs. Since the beginning of advertising – it has been considered common practice for companies and/or in-house marketing teams to outsource tasks and projects to a digital marketing agency.

There is no shortage of agencies or people with ideas. In fact, ideas can be the easy part. The trick is having the passion and knowledge set to know how to effectively execute those ideas.

But what do you (as the CEO, COO, CMO, brand manager, or the person picked to hire an agency) do? Where do you start? How do you find the right partner? How do you adapt and adjust – ask the right questions, partner with the right partners, and create opportunities for success.

Search, social, mobile, content, personalization, etc. are all converging. Agencies, marketing directors, button pushers, and CEOs are scrambling. Stop.

The sandbox is getting crowded. The era of the 500+ employee mega agency with everything under one roof – those days are over. In 1960 – companies had limited choices in order to reach their audience (direct mail, television, print, and radio). In 2014, we could all brainstorm over 100 tactics in the next twenty minutes.

The point – companies/brands are looking for something different – bigger agencies are reacting with either A) spinoffs or B) acquisitions of smaller companies with a specific skill set. But, who’s winning? The small(er) boutique agency with a specific skill – whether mobile app development, UI/UX, conversion optimization, video, paid media, organic SEO, social media, influencer outreach, etc. – you get the idea. The market is shifting.

Hiring a single agency to run your company is so 1998 – everyone has to learn how to play together

So where do you start? If you’re the brand, the company, the CEO, CMO, or the person picked – you look at these things when looking to bring on a new agency partner:

Start asking fundamental questions

  • What are the primary objectives we want to complete?
  • What problem are we trying to solve?
  • Do we have the internal resources to be successful?
  • Do we need a full-service agency, boutique firm, strategy consultant, specialty of something that we don’t even know what it is, or do we need an order taker?
  • Who will manage the agency relationship?
  • How do we measure success?

Next, get more out of your agency by

  • Focusing on accountability
  • Demanding analytics and reporting
  • Requiring flexibility (on them and you)
  • Challenging them to say “no” to the project
  • Remember – don’t hire an order taker (unless that is what you need)
  • Deciding on who the deciders are within in the organization
  • Determining / focusing on the right KPIs (content, outreach, etc.)
  • Investing in strategic planning days
  • Using the tools they use

So start here

  • Define the problem you’re trying to solve (leads, sales, awareness, qualified visits, etc.)
  • Understand your current state (perform site audit, PPC audit, social audit, SEO audit, etc.)
  • Decide on the deciders (set clear goals, listen to agency stories on how they solve problems, understand case studies are not an indicator of success)

And then do these things

  • Standardize monthly task lists and weekly check-ins
  • Invest in platform partnerships (Marketo, ExactTarget, HubSpot, etc.)
  • Commit to achievable/measurable/shareable goals
  • Decide on the deciders
  • Invest in tools that either save you time, make you money, or make you look smart
  • Work with agencies that like to work with others
  • Build the right sandbox

Where do we go from here?
For companies and brands – understand marketing silos will become a thing of the past. Agencies will shift their business model to more integrated services (in-bound marketing, content amplification, lead nurturing, etc.).

From a digital standpoint – you will see greater convergence among paid, owned, and earned media. Search will continue to evolve and provide greater integration with social. Search results themselves and content will find your audience not by the search query, but by your customers previous search history, their relationships with your brands digital footprint, your current customer base, the consumers location, social signal, personalization, and predictive online behaviors.

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About Rogue Marketing

The Rogue team uses proven and emerging tools and approaches to build brands, amplify channels and minimize risk. The greatest capability this team has is the ability to help mid-size, growth-oriented businesses achieve amplified performance faster. The talented team at Rogue has experience and skill in many marketing disciplines. This team builds Web and commerce sites, produces and places digital media, runs social campaigns, creates videos, writes content, designs award-winning creative, develops mobile messaging campaigns, nurtures customers, optimizes sites, drives leads… and a whole lot more. Every day. Clients include Reddy Ice, Dell Services, Boston’s Pizza, Nutraspace and many more.