Straight from FIG HQ

Considering a new agency in 2022?

December 2021Helen

Many businesses have not yet seen the big bounce back that was expected when COVID restrictions were lifted in summer 2021. Yes, there’s definitely been improvements but there’s also been other challenges, with rising fuel and energy costs and supply chain issues.

During COVID-19 50% of manufacturers made redundancies and even back in February 2021 37% of manufacturers believed it would take more than 12 months for normal trading conditions to resume. On top of all this British manufacturers are facing the largest shortage of skilled workers since 1989.

So it’s never been more important for marketing and communications to become a central force of the business armoury to fight back. Marketing can help to distinguish those companies who will continue to grow from those who don’t. It can help recruit and retain, to promote the brand, understand customer’s changing needs and adopt a strategic marketing plan that will drive awareness and engage with the right audiences.

You may be considering working with a new agency in 2022, or maybe it’s the first time working with an agency?

How do you find a good agency?

There are plenty of really good marketing agencies out there. In fact, the biggest problem is there are so many to choose from. At the last count there were 25,000 marketing agencies in the UK, that’s one agency every 6 square miles! In a saturated market, understanding customers and delivering accordingly is absolutely critical.

In a B2B (business to business ) setting 91% of purchases are influenced by word of mouth, so it stands to reason that businesses will turn to their own network for recommendations. Surely a failsafe method of finding an agency you can trust and to achieve your requirements?

But is it?

If most agency relationships are developed by word of mouth/referrals, it is staggering to learn that more than 34% of marketers are currently not satisfied with their agency partners!

A referral is a good start obviously, and it should give you a greater sense of insider knowledge compared to a ‘cold’ Internet search. But there’s still much more you can do to get the ‘right’ partnership for your business.

How do you like to work?

This is probably one of the most important factors for an agency-client relationship to work well. Many agencies will showcase their approach on their website, which gives you a real sense of what they’re going to do for you, but does that sound too prescriptive? In our experience clients differ greatly in how they like to work with you. We’ve got clients who have very little contact with us, other than a monthly call and emails to sign off work, trusting us to crack on with things and come up with suggestions on their behalf. We’ve got other clients who are in touch daily, with calls and emails and closely manage all outputs and strategy.

People really do work with people, so it’s worth remembering that. If your values differ too much or the relationship doesn’t gel, it probably won’t work, no matter how good an agency is at their job. Take some time to meet the whole team, not just the directors, and find out who are your day to day contacts and how flexible they are to work around your specific needs. If in doubt, do a small project with your new agency first and see how you’re all going to get on.

Previous experience

All agencies are usually very good at showcasing their past experience with case studies and previous work on their websites. But do they have the relevant experience in your sector so they can hit the ground running? Whilst you might be open to a fresh new perspective on things, it can help if they can prove experience in your industry. We’re very experienced in manufacturing, industry and technical markets, for example. We have many case studies and client examples of our work in these areas that showcase our ability to understand highly technical products and solutions and how to communicate them simply and concisely. We’re able to showcase that in a long solution led sales cycle the marketing approach is very different.

What are your specific needs?

Sometimes this is where a relationship can go very sour from the start, especially if a client doesn’t know exactly what they need. For example, if you are looking for a new website you’d expect to go to a digital agency specialising in building websites. But what if in building a new website you really need a lot of help with your brand and messaging in order to get it right? A pure digital agency might not be the best fit? Maybe a marketing agency with digital skills would be the best option in this instance. This is also where relying purely on recommendation can be difficult, as their needs and requirements could be very different to yours.

Level playing field

Talking to two or three different agencies is a good idea surely? Well yes it is, but you need to make sure the agencies are given a level playing field for a clear comparison. In our experience of pitching and being up against other agencies, the experience can vary greatly depending on the brief. Some agencies will stick to a brief rigidly whilst others will throw everything at it making a straight comparison tough. Sticking to a brief should be seen as having really listened to the client’s needs and responded appropriately. But equally, we have lost out doing this because another agency went off script and wowed them with something completely different. So be very clear what you want and with your budget restrictions.

When you find the right agency to work with it’s like having an in-house team of experts there when you need them, a true marketing partnership. To stretch and challenge you, to push and develop your brand, to communicate and engage with the right audiences across a multitude of different channels, efficiently and effectively. And ultimately to get the results you need.

Say hello. We’re always happy to hear from new businesses.

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