Whether you are just starting your business or a few years or decades in, chances are you’ll need to hire an agency at some point or another. Then, the question is, how do you find the right agency to collaborate with? Because that is the thing: it is a collaboration.
So, how do you choose an agency that is the right fit for your startup?
Easy. Ask the right questions.
#1: Do their values align with yours?
Completing a project on time with great results, and an enjoyable collaboration depends on a lot more than the agency’s expertise. Sure, a seasoned agency can appear to be a good fit to outsource your project, but it is key to scratch below the surface. Sure, take a look at what the agency offers, but prioritize their values. Why? Simple. The agency values will speak of what they’ll prioritize when it comes to your project.
Serious Tip 1:
Whether you are looking for a marketing, branding, or website project, it is important to find an agency that cares about finding ways to improve your company, not just your looks.
Nowadays it almost seems fashionable to enlist values such as ‘integrity’, ‘people over project’ ‘loyalty’ and similar. So it is important to go a step further. Ask your point of contact at the agency to give you more details on how they implement their values in day to day work. And remember, vague or well practiced answers can lead you astray. Instead ask them to provide examples and make sure that they are taking the needs of your company into consideration, and stay true to your values. The right agency is out there for you.
#2: Show don’t tell: Case studies and similar projects
This one is no brainiac, but can easily be a slippery slide. Reviewing samples of their work or getting a peek at a detailed overview of a successful project is a must. It will give you an idea of whether the agency will be able to handle the complexity of the project at hand. Don’t be shy, asking for references from their current or recent clients might be the best way to truly know what the agency is all about: talent, processes, and culture.
Serious Tip 2:
Ask the agency to run you through different types of projects they did in the past. This will help you determine whether this collaboration will thrive or wither. Why? Because it will show you the entire spectrum of their capabilities and it might uncover their weak spots.
#3: What will the onboarding experience look like?
Onboarding experience is often overlooked when finding the right agency for your organization. Let’s be honest, as a client you want to be in the loop or maybe be part of the process, and not shunned aside. But it is not always easy to predict the level of collaboration that you’ll have. That’s where the onboarding experience can shed some light on the matter.
Ask about the timeline, but also ask about what happens if something goes wrong and delays happen. Do they have a plan? Does it make sense to you?
Serious Tip 3:
Evaluate whether the proposed onboarding steps feel organic to you – will they help you understand the process better? Keep in mind that it needs to feel good, so trust your gut.
#4: What will be expected of you as a client?
Before you accept any offer make sure what you are getting yourself into, not only what you are getting out of the project. We are all short on time and have piling to-do lists, but not knowing from the very beginning what is expected of you can reap some negative effects. Do they have a hands-on approach? Are they preferring constant communication with the client? What is the overall level of involvement they expect from a client?
It is important to be realistic here. It is crucial to evaluate how much time you can dedicate to the project. Are you ok with constant communication and updates, or you’d like to have a minimal back and forth communication? How do they feel about your choices?
Serious Tip 4:
Pay attention to their non-negotiables. Who on your team could be the project’s lead? How much time can you dedicate to the project? What information you’ll need to provide. Then make sure that all these expectations are clear from the very beginning.
#5: Is the agency the right cultural fit?
This might not seem like the most important item on the list when determining if an agency is the right fit, but trust us, it matters a lot. Think about it, for the duration of the project, the agency’s team will be almost an extension of your team. So it would be wise to ensure that their company culture doesn’t clash with yours.
Serious Tip 5:
Ask them straight up! How would they describe their culture, what parts or processes of the collaboration are proof of them really caring about keeping the culture throughout the project. Ask about the team, who are they? What is their style? How will they manage conflicts? How would their clients describe the collaboration? As efficient, fun, complicated, attentive?
Ready to find the right agency?
We listed just some of the most important questions you need to ask yourself and your potential agency when in search for the right fit. That’s why the first meetings are so important. Take time to evaluate their approach to the presentation and the attention to detail they’ve put into their offer. Have they recognised that you need more services than you initially thought, and if so, what is their reasoning? Take time to find the right agency, as a rushed decision based on the best offer –price wise– might hurt your success in the long run.