Let’s face it: Finding the right agency partner can be unnerving. You spend a lot of time, energy, and resources researching various agencies, putting together a brief or request for proposal, and meeting with potential partners. But, what if you choose the wrong one?

Speaking from an agency perspective, I’ve met with hundreds of business leaders looking to partner with our firm over the years. And, the ones who end up turning into the most mutually-beneficial relationships have specific things in common. The businesses that end up finding the best fit all take certain steps before signing on the dotted line.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding the Right Agency Partner

If you want to increase your chances of finding the right agency partner, here are three essential steps from businesses that have done well:

    1. Make sure your team is on the same page. It’s essential that key stakeholders on your team have aligned around the same expectations. Are you in agreement on the type of agency you need (e.g., agency size, category expertise, capabilities)? Have you set clear goals? Have you defined characteristics to know whether or not an agency would be a good fit? What are your long-term expectations for the relationship? These are all questions to be answered before you start the search process.
    2. Make it easy for agencies to know exactly what you need. While a formal RFP might not be necessary, it’s important to set clear expectations for potential agencies on the front end. This includes a summary of the challenge you’re facing, specific objectives, deliverables, expectations for the relationship, budget, and timing. It’s worth taking the extra time to ensure you’re providing clarity before you meet with potential partners.
    3. Make time for a face-to-face dialogue with prospective agencies. Once you find a few agencies that fit your criteria, it’s important to get a better sense of the agency style and culture. Setting up a time to meet face-to-face with an individual or team at the agency will make it a lot easier to decide if you are a good fit for each other.

Whether you’re looking for an agency to partner with for all your marketing efforts or needing help on a specific project, finding the right agency is not easy. You want a partner who is energized by your challenges, passionate about your brand, and motivated by your business. Taking these steps will ensure you’re doing as much as you possibly can on the front end to choose an agency that will become an indispensable partner for your business.