agency (n.): an establishment engaged in doing business for another

Source: Merriam-Webster

Does your in-house marketing work with an agency? If it’s like most brands (roughly two-thirds, to be exact), it’s working with 2 or more. How well does this agency do business on your behalf? How do you even begin to evaluate an agency?

jerry maguireI’ll attempt to answer this question.

The best agencies make your business their business, and they take personally the results of their work. They treat you as one of their own, an extension of their organization. Indeed, you should really feel as if the agency people you communicate with work for you (and with you).

More specifically, marketing agencies should be:

  • Creating and owning strategy while skillfully applying data and fostering cross-departmental collaboration.
  • Helping your own marketing department be more responsible for customer service (a near-term expectation of senior marketing execs).
  • Evaluating the overpopulated landscape of marketing technology and presenting choices catered to your organization’s unique needs.
  • Simplifying, rather than adding to, an already complex environment.
  • Referring you to other businesses who may be more competent to handle specific aspects of your marketing (see prior point about evaluating technology).
  • Offering you discounted (or free) access to premium tools you would otherwise be paying a premium for independently.
  • Using their clout to connect you to representatives at Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other large companies that get your advertising dollars.

“Help me help you”

If you are currently working with an agency that comes up short in any of these areas, you may want to strongly reconsider the relationship, unless all you are looking for is pure labor to simply execute on your behalf. And if your agency is only executing your orders (which you are already 100% confident in) and ‘pushing buttons,’ it should not be putting an elite price tag on the knowledge-economy equivalent of menial work.

Rather, look to your agency to be your agent in the most basic sense of the word:

agent (n.): one who is authorized to act for or in the place of another

Source: Merriam-Webster

This organizational partner acts with authority in your place, giving valuable judgment where needed, lighting a path in the dizzying labyrinth of marketing choices. In the immortal words of Tom Cruise as sports agent in Jerry Maguire, you want your agency to help you help yourself.

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If you liked this post, you may also like one of the most popular posts on our blog: “Digital Marketing ROI.”

Paul Richlovsky

About Paul Richlovsky

Paul brings a writing and teaching background to his decade-long marketing career. He advises clients on content strategy and editorial direction. He is an enthusiastic marketing automation practitioner and active member of the Cleveland Marketo User Group. He has written/edited multiple marketing guides, including those aimed at healthcare, higher education, financial services, B2C brands and manufacturing audiences. With a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, "Under the Lunar Neon."He is particularly interested in usability, digital governance, ballroom dancing, bachata, racquet sports, and romping with his niece and nephews.

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