Choosing The Right Digital Agency (and getting a fair deal!)

So, you are on the hunt for a digital marketing and advertising agency. But where do you start? With over 25,000 creative, marketing and digital advertising agencies in the UK, finding and choosing the best agency can be an overwhelming task. Over the years, we have met with a variety of clients from all sorts of backgrounds, and many members of our team have been on the receiving end of this type of meeting. We have used our combined experience to create this digestible guide to help ensure both you and the agency get a fair deal.

1. Let the agency be your guide

Now, most guides will tell you that the first thing you need to do, is choose the services you need. We disagree. We believe that the agency should use their expertise to inform the client of the most appropriate strategy. If you have an in-house marketing team, then it is likely you already have an idea of what you’re after, however if you’re like the majority of our clients you, will be looking for us to lead the way. We’re happy to take baton and run with it.

While there is an argument that specialist agencies could be better at doing a single job, there is little evidence to support this. Most full-service advertising agencies will have their own specialists in each area, with extensive experience and knowledge. They will also spend less time and budget having to outsource personnel, equipment, venues & translators.


2. Size doesn’t matter

We have worked with many businesses, local and international and we can say with confidence that the size and location of the agency holds little relevance to performance. Agencies typically charge the same amount to keep competitive, meaning it ultimately comes down to your preference. If you like face to face meetings, go local, if you don’t mind phone & internet meetings, the world is your oyster!


3. Be prepared


This applies to both the agency and your business. Agencies cannot do their jobs to the best of the ability if they are only half prepared. We like to dig out as much information as we can about your business so that we can truly say we understand who you are, what you do, what makes you unique and where you want to be. This also includes knowing your customers, concerns, challenges and competitors.  We may ask you some questions you do not know the answers to, but that’s okay! We like a challenge.


4. Be transparent

In our experience, many clients and agencies have been somewhat sheepish about sharing budgets & pricing and while there may be some logic to this, all it does is create frustration on both sides. We need to know exactly what we are dealing with in order to determine the best strategy to use. It’s then up to you to decide whether the package we present to you is competitive. Don’t be afraid to let the agency know if you have received other quotes. It’s good to keep us on our toes.


5. Look for industry experience

Look for an agency with proven success in your industry. They will have a deeper understanding of the way things work, how customers behave and how to reach your audience, which cuts out a lot of the learning curves when creating new relationships.


6. Meet the team

Looking at the behaviours of staff within a company can be a very telling sign to indicate the type company you will be working with, and the type of relationship you will have. Agencies that actively encourage employees to interact, have fun and collaborate are likely to nurture creative thinking, bravery and honesty. Happy employees are far more productive, efficient and easier to talk to. Don’t forget to ask them about their skills, experiences and interests, after all, an agency should be an extension of your business.


7. Be yourself

Now when we say this, we don’t mean be less professional, but just to keep in mind that we are all people. We all like to smile and have a laugh and the ability to speak plainly with one another is more important than you might think. By having a more natural relationship, communication will happen much more freely and build trust.


8. Avoid ‘Groupthink’

For those of you that many not be aware, the term ‘groupthink’ applies to an environment where ideas are unchallenged. Whether it is from a lack of diversity or fear of saying no, it can be a poisonous business trait. Test the agency by requesting something unrealistic and see what they suggest. If they bend over backward to make you believe it’s possible, then this could be ‘groupthink’, If they suggest a better alternative, you’re safe. If they show you ways to do both, hire them now!


9. Get an expert opinion

Its important to know how up to date your agency is. Are they aware of new industry updates? Do they use new technology and software? If you are with a small agency, chances are you may not be able to tell, so don’t be afraid to ask. Consider bringing along an expert that knows about these things so that they can advise you. yes it may cost you, but it will most certainly save you in the long run!


10. What does the worst case scenario look like?

All agencies are sure to have had relationships go south, its inevitable, but finding out how and why these deteriorated and most importantly, what the agency has done since to prevent this from happening again, says more about them than their successes. Find out where their faults were and how they learned from them.


11. Compare & negotiate

To make sure you are getting the best deal, compare the agency quote with that of other agencies. Draw up a table to list the pros and cons of working with each agency to help the decision-making process. If you find the price to be too high, there’s usually room for negotiation.

“If something sounds too good to be true it probably is”

Some wise person

Well there you have it! now you should have all the information you need to get out there, make a short list and see whats out there! However before we leave you, let us leave you with one la

12. The more you give, the more you get (#unpopularopinion)

Many agencies will keep their cards close to their chest about the strategies they use and the ideas they have, as sadly there is a culture for companies requesting proposals with little intent to work with an agency. By offering payment for the proposal and allowing them to temporarily access your data, you will receive a great deal more information and advice, which can be used regardless of whether you decide to commit to a contract – everyone’s a winner. The money you have spent on the proposal can also be used as your first months deposit, and there will be no set-up costs!


TLDR (Too long, didn’t read)

  • Let the agency help you to decide what you need
  • Choose a full-service agency
  • Gather information about your business and customers
  • Let the agency know your budget
  • Choose a local agency that has proven success in your industry
  • Get to know who you will be working with
  • Speak openly with the agency
  • Speak to a variety of people and look at reviews & case studies online
  • Choose an agency that is up to date with current trends
  • Find an agency that has learned from their mistakes
  • Compare offers to ensure you get the best deal with the best company
  • Don’t be shy about sharing data & offering to pay for proposals

Follow all of these tips and you can’t go far wrong. Here at indigoRiver, we pride ourselves on being able to walk a mile in your shoes and provide you with the products and services you need to meet your goals, and turn your vision into a reality.

Give us a call on 01527 757010, or fill out our contact form and we’ll call you.


All gifs sourced by GIPHY

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