Over our 36 years of operation, we have had the great privilege of serving a range of clients across a myriad of different industries. During that time, we have presented our capabilities and pitched our approach to both existing and prospective clients.
We’ve asked and answered a lot of questions, and participated and witnessed a lot of decision- making. With that, here are seven questions we think clients should ask their marketing agency partners.
1) How do you evaluate client relationships?
Clients are in a continuous cycle of evaluating their marketing agency relationship. Some formalize it with an annual review. The fair exchange of value is what both parties desire. But which dimensions are important and how do you measure them? (Sorry, if that is a sneaky way to offer more questions.)
2) How has the pandemic changed branding in your industry?
This is a simple question on a complex and dynamic matter. Context is important here, so consider whether the response takes a macro or micro view.
3) How do you learn?
I love this question and have learned a lot about learning styles. There’s no doubt that branding and marketing agencies learn a lot as they serve their clients, but probe on how the learning is operationalized and shared. A follow-up could be, how do you experiment? I think Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, would be proud of this question.
4) What are your proudest accomplishments?
This is broad and open-ended on purpose, and how the marketing agency answers will be as telling about their culture and belief system as the next two questions. Responses range from people and work to clients and longevity. Watch if the respondent answers from an individual or collective point of view.
5) How would you describe your culture?
This is one you want to ask when you are able to observe faces. The expression could reveal more than the response. Answers could include agency values, which may be on a wall and are likely in an employee manual and stressed during onboarding. Big agencies tend to be process-driven, and networks tend to be fractured. Small agencies are more action-driven. Cultures reflect belief systems, which leads us to our next question.
6) What are your beliefs? Or what are your branding and marketing beliefs?
What you believe drives how you behave and what you do, so it makes sense for agencies and clients to compare their branding and marketing beliefs. Our belief is the more aligned your beliefs are with your partner, the better decisions you will make together. Of course, what people say and what people do can vary. Keep an eye on the say:do ratio.
7) What’s your purpose?
Purpose-based branding is a common approach for agencies to take when building brands for their clients. Few, however, articulate their purpose in a clear, compelling, or authentic manner. Cobbler’s children I suppose, but hopefully the answer will inspire.
We hope you found this list of questions of interest and value. We are curious what your experience is when you ask these questions and hope they create a window into your agency’s world.