November 2nd, 2021 By Edward Scott
One thing that the last 18 months have taught us is the importance of re-evaluation. Most of us have re-evaluated something due to the pandemic. Revaluated your work/life balance, your priorities, even geographical locations. This also includes taking a closer look at what does and doesn’t work for your business.
In the world of experiential, our work heavily focused on re-evaluating experiences. Do we pivot (buzzword bingo!) and take a live experience virtual? Are we ready to go back to live? How will it look if we create a hybrid experience with both live and digital elements? Is it safe to hold an event in Florida, New York or California, Singapore? And the biggest one of all, do we need to have this event? Will it deliver on our business objectives and audience needs?
And while those questions continue to be asked and the scenarios change frequently, one constant remains: marketers face uncertainty. And that means asking if you have the right agency at the helm to guide you through a shifting landscape.
Often, agency/client relationships start to crumble at the bottom and make their way up to the top. The day-to-day team is driving the work to meet the objectives and set the brand up for success. And when they aren’t, the relationship may run its course. During the pandemic, we also saw relationships shift from the top down. Marketers didn’t think their existing partners could answer “so what now?” and made quick changes.
So how do you know if now is the time to re-evaluate your agency relationship? Here are five things you should be asking:
- Is the agency able to be agile in the face of the ever-changing landscape? The last year has taught us about the importance of agility and shifting at a moment’s notice. Not all agencies are equipped to support a sudden change of direction. For example, agencies whose expertise was live experiences and struggled to move into the digital space. Some brands had to rush to find new partners. If a situation like this happens again in the future, is your agency partner agile enough to manage the changes alongside you?
- Does the agency have the suite of offerings needed to deliver against my portfolio? Often, we see brands that want to add elements to a project that their agency isn’t skilled to manage so it needs to be outsourced. Many brands are looking for less, not more and need to choose an agency with a suite of capabilities to deliver against multiple priorities or even spread the work across multiple mediums. For example, can the agency handle creative, strategy and production? What if you want to add a sponsorship component to a program, will the agency be able to manage it or can they turn an event into a multiple part content series or do you need to bring in another partner?
- Is the agency able to deliver against my objectives? Setting clear goals are essential for any brand. Setting goals your agency can meet are equally as important. Make sure everyone is on the same page and can hit your KPIs. A good place to start is ensuring your agency partner understands why your KPIs exist and how you expect them to be met. If brand awareness is the objective, you need your agency partner to deliver an idea that generates a level of earned media impressions but if you are focused on lead generation or loyalty program signups, you partner needs to know that how an audience responds and subsequently acts is the metric for success.
- Does the agency understand my audience and what they are seeking? Not every partner understands audience behaviors and the right want to reach them. Getting to them is one thing; getting to change their behaviors is another. It’s crucial that your partner demonstrates expertise in how to reach your target audience and that they can tell you how to engage them in a meaningful way. VIPs or C-suite executives respond to content in different ways than sales teams, so your partner needs to be able to show they know the triggers and motivators of each because one size does not fit all.
- Does the agency value its staff, and have they created a diverse and inclusive culture and environment? It’s important that an agency team reflect the diversity of the world around us and that their employers invest in not only attracting talent but retaining it. All of this impacts your business since lower turnover means continuity on projects and consistent quality. Brands should look at the tenure of a team from the top-down and check out what the agency does to nurture staff and make its employees feel that they can be their authentic selves every day. Are there programs in place to celebrate and educate about diversity and inclusion and encourage allyship? Is it somewhere you would want to work?
The agency experience for brands has never been more important. The monumental changes over the last two years have many thinking and, in some instances, proactively searching for a new partner or groups of partners that can power their brand forward. So, as you look to re-evaluate, make sure you take stock of not only what an agency can do today, but what they can do tomorrow. Because just like brand experiences will never be the same again, some agencies won’t either.