How to choose the right digital agency for your business

One of the most asked questions when it comes to clients looking for marketing support, is “How do I find the right company to help me do online marketing?” – Yes, this is a big question, and having owned a full-service agency for more than 10 years, I understand how this is a troubling question, and trust me I have seen and heard some shocking stories. So, let me help make some sense out of this dilemma.

What is your goal?

One of the biggest mistakes people make in business is they reach out to other professionals expecting all the answers, but the critical mistake is when they meet with the professional, they don’t really understand what they want or more importantly what their goals are. Sound familiar, I have been consulting for more than 20 years and unfortunately this is more the norm than anything else. But let’s face it, we don’t spend much time on planning and understanding what the future looks like, so this will always be the issue.

So, to make sure you don’t waste your time and others, set out a basic set of goals that you want to achieve and the time frame in which to hit these goals. Use the SMART process to set these goals.

For example, if you are choosing a web developer to build a website, know what you want the site to do, i.e.: provide information, sell items or create calls, and then know what services and products you will display on the site. Pretty simple, don’t over think this, it’s not hard.

Marry the right person!

An interesting concept, but I have found it is true in every situation. When meeting someone for the first time using your instinct, ask yourself can I see a long-lasting relationship in business with this person. Look at the body language, listen to how they talk, do the offer you a kind gesture or a golden egg, the latter is the one to worry about!

Do you trust them with the keys to your house?

Believe me, if you trust your gut and your heart you will get it right, I have been burnt by the best in the game and I went with them because they talked it up. Oh, and by the way I have been successfully married for more than 26 years, and I met my wife at the pub when I didn’t want a girlfriend, interesting huh!

Do you know their team?

Who is really doing the work? This should be the most important question you ask the prospective partner. Why? Well, would you ask a surgeon to perform heart surgery, but then realise he gets the fish intern to do the work. NO, you wouldn’t, so why would you leave your business in the hands of those you don’t know.

I recently had an experience with a web developer who professes to be the go to guy in his chosen industry sector, but when it came to handing the site over he didn’t check it and was unaware (so he says) that the site had been a dupe of not one other site in the same sector but three other companies. How did we find this out, we copied some text from the site in bulk and put it in Google and the Google sleuthed him. Bingo. No more work going to that guy, in fact he is probably going for cover.

Are they qualified to service your Ferrari?

Interesting question you may ask! Let’s put it this way, you don’t take your Ferrari to the local garage to have a full service, unless your local garage has the credentials of being a qualified Ferrari mechanic. So do some background checks, don’t just let them show you a beautiful glossy and perfectly bound portfolio of their work. Contact some of their customers and ask them, verify their credentials, if they say they are a marketer or designer, see how long and not just someone that has decided on a career change and gone to Google University to learn their craft.

BTW, keep the economy going, make sure your agency does the work in your home country or better still home town, that way if you have issues you can get it resolved easily, if they are overseas, your chances of getting your agency to respond fast is low. Plus ask yourself this question, why would I get a company that is going to send all my company information and data to someone on the other side of the world where the laws a little bit different. All I can say is beware. Don’t get me wrong I love sites like, 99 designs, Fiverr etc but when it is your data at stake think before sending sensitive tasks to someone you don’t know.

It’s not a one-night stand!

In a digital relationship is not set and forgot or a one-night stand. I like to tell my clients that it is a marathon and both parties need to tirelessly work on the partnership, as I said earlier, know who you are marrying, because you need to get the best from the relationship which will bring the best results for your business.

Marketing and in particular digital marketing is a forever changing world so your Digital partner needs to keep you informed of changes such as Google Algorithms, which change weekly, or it seems that way. By understanding this you can make the necessary changes to your website, social campaigns etc hence improving your results and making sure you don’t get negatively affected. A very important part of managing your marketing as a business owner.

Own you turf

If there is one then thing from this blog, I hope it is this one point. Own you turf! I can’t be any more direct than that. So many times, over my 25-year career in marketing I have seen and heard many stories about companies finding out too late that their agency or contractor has registered the company domain name or built the website on a server or platform that belongs to them. This is fine until you want to move supplier / agency and the relationship sours, that’s when the nightmare starts. So, this is my one gifting post to you, own everything that has your company brand and details on it, be it a website, google Adwords account, social media account, domain name and even your logo. Your IP is the single most valuable thing in your possession, own it and protect it.

Understand marketing

No, I don’t mean you have to get a degree or 10 to understand marketing, all you need to do is gain some knowledge on the basics of ALL the areas you use in marketing, all good agencies will be only too happy to educate you, if they don’t simply don’t engage them. When you understand your marketing, you can do great things and have great conversations, in turn making great decisions to achieve great results. G.R.E.A.T = Get real, educate and thrive.