May 26

A colleague told me of a horror story with one of her clients. I was reviewing her client’s web site providing some constructive feedback to help them better communicate their value proposition in a more efficient and graphical manner. I was told how the so-called web developer, a sizable agency in Seattle, didn’t deliver the project as intended or specified. She felt there was a ‘bait and switch’ on the stated requirements that ended up costing the client four times as much money as it should have. As I navigated the client’s site and learned more of the agency’s process, I was stunned the agency was able to stay in business. The thought of a used car salesman came to mind.

I came up with a 10 Step Plan to help you choose the marketing agency that will provide the quality of service you require. (and deserve!)

1. Clearly document your project objectives and requirements and review them internally. If you don’t get it, don’t expect the solution provider to get it either. Sometimes during this process you may discover the project isn’t justified or needed!

2. Set the Budget and Timeline. Don’t go in blind.  Very few businesses can afford endless projects that don’t deliver the intended results.

3. Ask for referrals. Query your colleagues and network for referrals. Many times you will discover the same name comes up for good or bad reasons. Ask for details.

4. Set the first meeting expectations – YOU are the boss, not the vendor. This is where Step #1 comes in handy. Clearly detail the project requirements. Don’t tolerate scope creep.

5.  Ask the solution provider for references and relevant project experience. Make sure you work with proven talent.  If you are the decision maker or business owner remember the project will be a reflection of your efforts.

6.  Ask for a proposal from qualified solution providers only. Don’t hesitate to negotiate on the timeline and price.

7.  Don’t make a decision on price alone. Cheap isn’t always a good thing.  You want CAPABILITY, VALUE and SERVICE.

8.  Make sure the proposal clearly states your requirements. Did the solution provider add extra services to expand the scope and price of the project?  Did they clearly state your requirements and how they will fulfill them?

9.  Avoid the Goat Rodeo and secure one throat to choke. Make sure you have a single point person from your business and with the solution provider that work together.  Too many chefs will guarantee project failure from poor communication and coordination.

10. Review progress against milestones and commitments. Don’t let problems fester or projects go on endlessly.  Meet weekly, or more often as needed, to ensure your project is kept on track.

Hold your marketing agency accountable!  Don’t accept services that don’t meet your requirements.  Choose wisely and execute brilliantly.

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