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There are many different marketing, design and branding agencies out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Here are ten things to consider when choosing your next agency and managing the early days of the relationship.


Understand your internal environment

Before you explore potential agency relationships, you’ll need to make sure that you fully understand your business’ needs, expectations and resources, particularly around budget. Clearly setting out your requirements and constraints will help to narrow the field before you even start selecting an agency, giving you a strong set of criteria against which to judge your selection.


Full service vs specialist

Agencies tend to fall into two categories depending on the services they offer. Some strive to provide every potential marketing and design service, typically supporting your business over the longer term as a virtual marketing team. Specialist agencies, however, focus on one area as their main service offering and typically work on a more transactional project-by-project basis. Your previously established criteria will help you decide

which type is better for you.


Sector/Market understanding

Although it’s true that marketing expertise can be applied across multiple market sectors, it's often reassuring to know that your potential agency partner understand the sectors in which your business operates. Look at your potential choices’ websites or reach out for a quick discussion with the agency to discuss their sector expertise.


Learn from others’ experience

Another excellent way to understand how effective a potential agency might be is to review others’ experiences of working with them. Most agencies will present case studies on their website, and they can be a useful way to understand the agency's approach, their successes, and their understanding of markets they’ve worked with. Reviews on third-party sites can be another effective way of measuring effectiveness.


The proof is in the pudding

When evaluating an agency’s case studies, look at their stated results. Concrete proof of outcomes, like customers acquired, return on investment or awards won can give you a useful indication of the agency’s potential. However, it’s important to remember that case studies are promotional devices, so treat any claims with a discerning eye.



A useful way to evaluate an agency's potential is to review how they present or promote themselves. If their website, social media presence or promotional materials impress, then it’s fairly logical to assume that the agency is capable of bringing the same level of gloss and professional approach to your business too.


Check the rapport

Assuming you have, at this point, selected one or more agency to consider further, the next step is to meet with them. The first meeting can be incredibly important, as you’ll be working closely with your chosen agency. Assessing whether you feel the beginnings of a good relationship and if you’ll be comfortable dealing with them regularly, will often be the tipping point for making your final choice.


Questions are key

During initial meetings, and briefings, the most revealing thing will often be the questions that your agency asks. Whether it’s to confirm understanding, expand upon your brief, or to bring up points that you may not have considered, questions are a vital part of the briefing process. Beware agencies that ask very few questions, as it may point to insufficient understanding or a lack of investment in your project.


Meet the whole team

Your regular contact for medium and large agencies will usually be an account manager. This is the person who relays your brief to the agency’s creative team. If possible, request to meet with this team as well, so you can brief them directly and give them a more thorough understanding of your business and its needs. Balancing your relationship with your account contact and the agency’s creative team will help to build a longer-lasting and more fruitful relationship.


Regular contact

In the early days of working with your agency, regular contact is important. As with any other relationship, investing time and building understanding will pay dividends in the long run. Regular calls or face-to-face meetings will help to cement this relationship and lead to better, more effective creative work.

There you have it! Our top 10 tips for building a successful new agency relationship. If you’d like to see if The Fold can live up to our own advice (and we think we do!) then please do get in touch to explore how we can help transform your business.