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Scoring Your Next Marketing Agency

This post is for those of you closing in on selecting an agency partner. You’ve visited their website, reached out to their sales people, and watched them present their proposals.

If you need to take a step back, learn how to send a Request For Proposal (RFP) here. If you need help starting the agency selection process check out that post as well.

Once you’ve watched your favorite agencies present their proposals, you may have a difficult decision to make. Each agency will have their strengths and weaknesses, so how can you be sure to choose the best fit?

 

The Answer is Simple

But it's not always easy to execute. The key is turning all of the qualitative data you’ve collected on these agencies into quantitative data.

That means turning their strengths and weaknesses into numerical values. Why? So they can be weighted and compared to help you make the best selection for who you’ll work with.

That’s where our free Agency Buyer’s Guide Selection Scoresheet comes in. The sheet asks questions in four categories, and each question prompts you to score an agency on a scale of 1-4, with higher scores indicating higher expertise.

Agency Buyer's Guide Selection Scoresheet Preview

There are four important categories of questions to determine an agency’s potential worth. In this post, we’ll dive into each and list our recommended questions.

 

Qualifications

This covers everything from comparing their capabilities to your requirements and how their internal structures match your preferences.

  • Do agency capabilities match your requirements, compared to other agencies or solution providers you are considering?
  • How well does the agency fit your preference on being a full service OR niche/specialty group?
  • How well does the agency fit your preference regarding general marketing knowledge OR industry-specific experience?
  • What's your perception of the size, ownership structure and health of the agency?
  • How positive was your first impression of the agency when talking/referred by others OR viewing their website?
  • What's your perception of the agency's creativity (in the context of creative thought/ideation or visual design)
  • What's your perception of the agency's critical thinking and analytical skills (in the context of data and/or analytics)?
  • Is there a demonstration of thought leadership through certifications, partnerships, awards, tools/technology, or publishings?

RFI & RFP Response

When looking at responses, note each one’s timeliness, communication and attention to detail.

  • After sending your RFI/RFP, did the agency respond in a timely and satisfactory manner?
  • Did the agency ask questions that demonstrated a desire to learn more about you and your requirements?
  • Did communication (written, oral, etc.) seem clear and concise?
  • Did you perceive the agency as efficient and organized in their response?
  • How might you rate the agency regarding their ability to follow your direction OR their attention to detail?

 

Presentation & People

Take a look at each agency’s likability, trust, balance and differentiation.

  • Likability: Do the people seem like they would be enjoyable to work with?
  • Trust: Did the agency seem transparent and authentic?
  • Differentiation: Did the agency demonstrate how they are different than others?
  • Was there good balance between strategy and tactics?
  • Was there good balance between plain language and any industry/marketing jargon?
  • Did you feel the people in this agency could (and would be open to) teach you something?
  • Was there a good balance between authoritative knowledge and humility?
  • Did the presentation demonstrate an organized approach to your requirements?
  • Did the agency leave a positive impression with respect to the quality or uniqueness of what they presented?
  • Was there adequate information about the agency people OR account team structure you'd be working with?
  • Did the agency have a vision and culture that might align well with yours?

 

Proposal & Terms

Measure each candidate’s answers when it comes to scope of work, costs, timing, agreement language and clarity on next steps (we’ll go even more in-depth in the next section).

  • Is there an executive summary or brief that concisely highlights scope of work, costs and timing?
  • Does the budget align with your expectation, OR is it justified based on the value offered?
  • Is the proposal (or statement of work) clear on timing and specific deliverables from work provided?
  • Is the proposal clear on what's NOT provided, or what might trigger an amendment or change order?
  • Is agreement language acceptable with respect to the contract term, payment terms and termination?
  • Do you have a good sense of next steps with respect to onboarding procedures and start time?

 

All Questions are Not Created Equal

Even though all questions are scored on a scale of 1-4, some questions will be more important to you than others. Individual questions should be weighted accordingly. We recommend giving each question a score multiplier between 0.5 and 2.0.

Agency Buyer's Guide Selection Scoresheet

When all is said and done, total up scores in all categories. The agency with the highest overall score should be your best fit. If you’d like to skip the process of creating this spreadsheet, download it for free from the buyers guide.

(It’ll even do the math for you)

Related Resources

 

Agency Buyers Guide

Your Guide To An Effective Agency Shortlist

How Marketing Agencies and Businesses Best Collaborate

Isaiah Cormier

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