What to look out for when procuring an advertising agency service

You are ready to start executing your advertising and marketing campaigns and are now in the selection stage of an agency. This article gives you the top five tips for your decision-making process.

We have heard stories about startups and SMEs having an unideal experience when dealing with agencies and the top 5 factors to look out for when choosing an agency to work with. Ultimately, you are going to be serviced by a human, and the skills of the agency, internal teamwork, and client servicing aspects are important.

This article helps you figure out telltale signs of an agency contract that may get you locked up without guaranteeing proper servicing.

  1. Understand the length of the contract and your exit terms clearly.
    • Most agencies will ask you for long-term contracts, with very few offering 30-day terms for trials (we do).
    • A longer-term contract makes more sense when a strategy is decided over the next 3 – 6 months. A longer contract allows the agency to execute in a planned manner and bring results to the table. It also gives you cost benefits since it helps agencies secure cash flow over a larger period of time and thereby helps determine resources.
  2. Are you required to spend a minimum stipulated amount of money every month, or is a given budget amount required to be spent annually?
    • A minimum stipulated budget automatically creates an incentive to spend the allocated budget even if it does not perform. This is not going to work in your favour in the long run.
    • On various occasions, we have experienced startups finding flaws in their products/services and asking to stop advertising so that they can route their budget to improve the flaws. Growth-inclined startups or those still expanding their current portfolios must consider budget flexibility and offer agency terms that are win-win.
  3. Who controls the data and access to your advertising platforms?
    • Much of the work done by advertising teams relies on their ability to structure marketing campaigns and train the underlying advertising algorithms. This is done on the client’s budget, and when clients switch agencies, they often never get access to advertising platforms. If you still do not have ownership on your advertising platforms, then fix it either by requesting ownership or simply moving over to a new account.
    • Transparency is another issue. Clients may not even have access to look at real costs incurred on their platforms. Relying on manually constructed Excel reports is almost a guaranteed method of paying more than you think. Of course, there are kickbacks, and a great agency (like ours) declares all benefits to all its clients.
  4. Who will service your account? Will it be someone with relevant experience?
    • Frequently, we hear startups meeting experienced professionals during pitches and being left to be looked after by a poor intern still finding their way up the agency ladder.
    • We have even heard about clients not having any access to the actual campaign manager and thereby not being able to learn more about acquisition strategies that are working or not working.
    • You could likely be in the dark about the process and experience. We often rely on a given ‘portfolio’ or ads from agencies to procure them without knowing if the client still works with them. With Mister Marketeer, you can ask us to connect you to our clients to verify a claim, no questions asked. 
  5. Is your agency willing to look at metrics beyond advertising KPI to help you grow?
    • While everything is based on the scope of work, a fast-growing scenario requires communication across divisions outside of marketing. I get worried when silos are created, and discussions are limited to cost per lead without care for sales team insights. 
    • Growth requires partnership with a high amount of trust, and while SOW draws a line, the relationship with your agency and gestures of bilateral goodwill is beyond ignorance.
    • KPIs are great! What if you wanted to grow more? Can your agency diagnose metrics to give a pointed answer on possibilities instead of relying on an expert from an ad platform? 

There are several other parameters to look for, like the type of previous client experience, the width and range of advertising channels, and, maybe more importantly, as you grow beyond your initial advertising tech stack of Adwords, Facebook, and so on.