Nicolas Finet is a young man with all the attributes associated with the new crop of digital entrepreneurs; he is intelligent, driven and, perhaps most importantly, incredibly ambitious. In 2014, he co-founded Sortlist, a website that matches clients with their ideal marketing agency. We recently caught up with him to get a better understanding of why he thinks it is absolutely essential that companies take time to find the right agency to suit their specific needs.
WHAT IS THE FIRST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO A COMPANY CONSIDERING WORKING WITH A MARKETING AGENCY?
When choosing a marketing agency to provide the specific services you require, it’s important to do a good deal of preparation. First and foremost, you must fully understand your budget; bear costs in mind prior to beginning the hiring process – a failure to do so just heightens the risk of facing financial difficulties further down the line.
If you need to outsource your marketing work, then be sure to find someone who will be accountable for the project. Ensure that the agency you approach has the time required to dedicate themselves to the assignment; they need to be committed to doing the work, and you need to be confident in the agency’s ability to complete the task to the best of their ability.
It is also essential that you set a timeframe. The process may take a while, and many marketing campaigns end up being far more complex than they initially appear. It is vital that a deadline is determined at the earliest possible opportunity so that all work can be completed in a timely and efficient manner.
I would also suggest that you consider whether or not you will need to involve a procurement department. Though this may give additional support and could potentially fast-track the process, it could result in additional constraints. Determine this from the outset, as it could have a significant impact on both budget and timeframe.
WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE THINK ABOUT ONCE THEY ARE SURE THEY NEED TO GET IN CONTACT WITH A MARKETING AGENCY?
It’s normal for a company to encounter challenges every so often, and it’s even more common for entrepreneurs. What is essential is how you respond to these problems; it’s crucial to assess what difficulties you need to resolve, and be open to all possible solutions or remedies that have the potential to address the issue.
Once you are fully aware of what needs to be tackled, discuss everything in detail with your chosen marketing agency. Talk with them and make sure they are fully aware of both your concerns and your desired outcomes. Be truthful, because it is only by being completely honest that an agency can provide you with genuinely helpful solutions.
WHAT MAKES A PARTICULAR MARKETING AGENCY THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR A CLIENT?
Again, it’s worth highlighting the importance of ensuring the marketing agency understands the needs of your company, and your specific goals and challenges. They also needs to have a sense of the market in which you operate, because that is how they will be able to create strategies that place you ahead of your competitors.
WHAT KEY CONSIDERATIONS MUST CLIENTS THINK ABOUT BEFORE HIRING AN AGENCY?
You have to be honest with yourself about your budget. Any association with an agency is doomed to fail if finances are not taken into consideration from the outset. However, even if you can afford the best of the best, you still need to think carefully about which agency has the capacity to benefit you the most.
It is essential you and your chosen marketing agency can communicate effectively; ensure you are comfortable working together, because that will make the whole process as smooth and productive as possible.
There are different agencies you could choose. You could go to a one-stop-shop; this is an agency that will manage every aspect of the campaign for you. They may be less specialised, but they can more or less be left to their own devices. Alternatively, you could go to a specialist agency consisting of niche experts, but that could mean you need to manage them, and it is likely to take up more of your time.
SHOULD A CLIENT RESEARCH AN AGENCY BEFORE HIRING THEM?
Once you have an agency in mind, it’s always good to scrutinise them a bit so as to discover a little more about them. Take a closer look at the things they are best at, and ask yourself whether their abilities align with your goals. Take your time, and thoroughly assess not only your needs, but what you are comfortable with.
Don’t be afraid to meet with people face to face before making a final decision to better understand if you will be able to forge a strong and fruitful working relationship.
HOW IMPORTANT IS COMMUNICATION WHEN IT COMES TO A CLIENT-AGENCY RELATIONSHIP?
Once you understand your chosen agency a little better, you should then learn more about their client service. Observe how they communicate, and ask about the tools and techniques they use. It may be worth considering that the entire process could require a dedicated account manager; is this something you can realistically accommodate?
There is also a need for you to balance your in-house taskforce with your agency work. You have to get the right mix with this to avoid any conflicts or misunderstandings about who is meant to be doing what.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR THE CLIENT TO KEEP ASSESSING AND REVIEWING THE AGENCY’S OUTPUT?
Very important, because you need to ensure the agency is fulfilling all of its commitments. You should set milestones to check if things are going as planned. Set up key performance indicators (KPIs) to better help you with this assessment. Also, prepare how you will measure your return on investment (ROI). This is vital, as it will reveal whether or not you are getting your money’s worth.
SHOULD AGENCIES ALWAYS ESTABLISH THE INDIVIDUALS THAT WILL BE WORKING WITH A PARTICULAR CLIENT?
You should always know who you will be working directly with; it’s incredibly important to have a productive relationship. When initially choosing the people you will be in contact with, see if they are certified or awarded. The minimum requirement would be that they are experienced, and that they know what they are doing. At the end of the day, you need to establish whether the people who are carrying out activity on your behalf can achieve your core goals and objectives.
SHOULD CLIENTS ANALYSE AN AGENCY’S WORKING PRACTICES?
Will you be able to contact them during normal working hours? Do they spend most of their time in the office, or do they often work from home? This is one of the key things you need to establish. If you ever need to meet with you contact, or get in touch with them at short notice, it’s essential you realise how that can be accomplished.
WHAT FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO CLIENTS LOOKING FOR A MARKETING AGENCY?
The people you are working with should be able to understand both you and your overall objectives. The agency should be interested in working with you and striving to enhance your business proposition. You ought to be able to share the same values and principles.