How to Vet an Advertising Agency

One of the most difficult decisions an organization makes is choosing an advertising partner. Why is this so hard? Because from the outside, most agencies look very much the same, all making similar claims to expertise and success. Behind the façade of those claims, however, lie wildly varying levels of competence.

Because it can be so difficult to vet an advertising agency, it’s easy to put your faith in the wrong one. And once that trust is misplaced, it’s easy to lose faith in future marketing partners. At our full-service advertising agency in Scottsdale, we are dedicated to earning and maintaining relationships of trust with our clients because it is so crucial in the work we do.

We ask our clients on a daily basis to trust us with their reputation, their money and their organization’s success. When we want to do something innovative, experimental or creative on their behalf to further their business goals, our clients need to trust in our expertise and experience to be able to work together with confidence.

A Glimpse Into the Past

On occasion, we have engaged with companies that had bad experiences with their previous marketing agency. As we’ve reviewed the previous agency’s work and heard stories of weaker and weaker performance and more and more missed goals, it’s easy to see why a company would lose faith in that relationship.

What is not easy, though, is to determine why they put faith in them in the first place and why they persisted for so long with an ineffective marketing partner. When we asked decision-makers why they stuck with their previous agencies for so long, the most common answer is that the previous marketing group had some method like a complicated algorithm or some other black box that they were deploying on the client’s behalf. They told the client that if they put their faith in the box and their checks kept clearing, eventually the client would be successful.

How to Truly Vet an Advertising Agency

“Trust, But Verify.”

– American President Ronald Reagan

No agency is going to tell a potential client during a pitch, “Our philosophy is to do just enough to get you to keep paying our invoices until you realize that we really aren’t very good at this whole advertising thing because, frankly, we kind of aren’t.” But those agencies are out there.

How, then, can a company put their faith in any one agency? There are two overarching principles that we work by, would like to be judged by and that we advise businesses to judge both their current and potential partners by – experience and expertise.

How to Measure Experience

It shouldn’t be difficult for an agency to prove their experience by displaying the work they have done for other clients. This exercise should answer the following questions:

  • What were they tasked to do?
  • How did they do it?
  • Why did they do it that way?
  • What was the result?
  • Was this the best result possible?

Keep in mind that while the technology of advertising changes constantly, the fundamentals haven’t changed at all. Since the days of the Wild West medicine show, it has followed a simple recipe: introduce the public to the product or service your business produces and then get them to take an action that’s valuable to your business (generally buying your product or using your service).

From vitamin tonics to smartphones, that is the process. There is no secret, no black box; if your current or potential partner cannot clearly explain how and why they do what they do on your behalf, you probably should look for a new partner.

Measuring Expertise

Expertise is more difficult to quantify and verify than experience. As a company seeking a marketing partner, you can perform your due diligence by verifying education and certifications at your potential agency. It’s been our experience, however, that there is no connection between a valid certification and a high level of expertise.

When we are called on to assure clients of our own expertise, we often begin by explaining the above – there are no black boxes. If someone feels comfortable enough with their own level of expertise that they are charging people money to employ it, they should be able to explain the following:

  • What is their specific expertise?
  • How have they performed for clients in the past?
  • How does that expertise contribute to the client’s goals?
  • What process that person will use to achieve those contributions?

Trust – A Two-Way Street

If you are looking for a marketing partner, you should absolutely expect an agency to prove their experience and expertise to you. If they do, you should be willing to put some faith in that agency to do what they do best on your behalf.

We would love to establish a relationship of trust with you today. Please take some time to check our favorite client work or contact us with your questions today.