10 Important Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Rural Marketing Agency
Appointing the right rural marketing agency for your rural business is one of the most important decisions you can make.
Choose well and they can propel your rural business to higher heights with increased leads and sales.
Choose wrong and you can be robbed of resources meaning you can’t defend yourself from your competition because your budget cupboard is bare and blown.
We have personally seen, witnessed and even inherited hundreds of “burnt and bruised” rural clients who made the wrong choice in their agency provider.
Having been promised the word and woo’d by the big boss and top brass, they often found themselves quickly left with junior staff who had no commercial acumen.
The mistake they made was going for the big badge or name thinking.
I know one client (a significant crop science player in the Australia and New Zealand Ag scene) who made the mistake of choosing a big network agency player. Problem was they soon found themselves lost as “small fry in a bigger pond” where other client accounts of $10m+ towered over them.
Sure your agency at pitch will say they treat every client as equal but you and I both know that isn’t true when it comes to simple economics. Bigger accounts get the best and everyone else gets the scraps. It’s a fact of life.
So what do you need to look out for most?
Here are my top then questions you need to ask when evaluating and choosing your rural marketing agency:
- Who specifically will be working on our account? (what are their credentials?, how long have they been with the company?, what rural qualifications do they have?, are they in-house or white-label contractors?)
- What results are you most proud of and why? (ask for examples and evidence, look for rewards rather than agency awards which in the majority of cases – with a few Effie exceptions – are an agency echo chamber of “we are more clever and creative than you are”)
- How do you make your money? (do they mark up, add commission or get kick back rebates, do they offer an open book? Do they have a cost plus approach or fair gross profit margin target)
- Can we speak to some of your current clients AND those clients that have left so we can get a balanced perspective? (don’t just speak to the clients they put forward as these will be skewed – like any referees. Dig deeper and do your true due diligence)
- How do you define strategy and what constitutes great strategy to you? (you are looking for their specific methodology or proprietary process that generated unique insights to accurately inform your strategy)
- How do you measure or prove attribution to ensure there is accountability across all spend? (what metrics do they monitor or benchmark using baselines before and after campaign investments? This is especially important for digital and media)
- How do you manage your Client’s expectations or complaints around non-performance? (we get every client agency relationship has a happy honeymoon period but after a while client or agency can get complacent and that’s where little things can creep in Managing expectations from the get go is vital).
- What is your current team turnover? (asking this question alone will give you a ton of insight and if they fail to answer it just use LinkedIn to see how long their people have been working)
- How you keep current in your market? (you want to know how they invest to keep themselves relevant and up to date or you might find they are just using the same old 1990s models with everyone they work with)
- What’s your single biggest and best piece of marketing advice? (this one is gold as it’s challenging them to surmise what they think is the most important factor in marketing success. You want to know how they think and approach things. You want to know what their philosophy is and what they value most and why. Setting a live brief is also a great exercise in due diligence which I can’t recommend enough).
So there you have it.
10 critical questions you need to ask when choosing your rural marketing agency.
In making sure there is a fit, there are as important for your agency as they are for you.
I hope it helps save you from the heartaches of the many burnt, broken and bruised client-agency relationships I’ve seen over the years.
And do let me know what’s missing from this list.
Thanks for reading.