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Finding a new agency partner is tough. It’s a big risk to take and is a lot of work. What if the new agency isn’t the right fit? How do you go through the process of evaluating possible agencies? Where do you find the agencies? What should you look for in a new agency relationship? How do you balance and meet the needs of multiple stakeholder needs across your organization?

Here are 5 helpful tips for finding the right partner:

  1. Internal stakeholder alignment: Make sure all of the key members of your team are on the same page about what business problem you’re trying to solve for and what is important to you. This is truly the keystone for building a strategic relationship with your new agency partners. (Also, this is a massive opportunity for financial and time efficiencies.)
  2. Ask the right questions, but not too many questions: Make sure you’re asking the agency questions that help you determine if they are able to help you solve the key business issues that you discovered during your internal stakeholder alignment. This doesn’t mean lengthy RFP questions, rather the opportunity to ask questions specific to address your key business needs.
  3. Find a mix of agencies: Review multiple agencies that are built to address your needs and don’t be afraid to consider an option or two that seem a bit outside of your comfort zone – you may be pleasantly surprised. Often times, you are forced to use suppliers vetted by your procurement team or tried and true partners in your vertical. A good agency is strategic regardless of what vertical they fall in. It’s the ability to find “thinkers” and true “problem solvers” that may sit outside of your business comfort zone.
  4. Meet the agencies: You’d be amazed how much you can learn by sitting in a room with people for 60 – 90 minutes. Pay attention to the chemistry in the room and your gut. Insist on meeting people that would be working on your account. Don’t let fancy pitch teams and agency executives fool you to thinking they are day-to-day on your account.
  5. Do background checks: Narrow your list to 2-3 finalists and check references. While the agency will give you their happiest customers, you’ll learn a lot in those conversations about what it is actually like to work with that specific agency. Also, ask to have a 1:1 conversation with an account manager or another day to day person that might be assigned to your account. You’re buying the agency’s people; make sure they are happy.

Finding the right strategic agency partner is laying the groundwork for your growth and future. It is a tough and time-consuming process, but it deserves your attention. Choosing the wrong agency is much more painful than taking the time to find the right fit for your business.

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