Digital Marketing Digital Project Management

Working with External Agencies: An Art & Science Guide

July 10, 2019


Choosing an agency to work with can seem like a very daunting task. There are lots of aspects to consider: how big is the agency? What do they specialize in? Have they worked with brands like ours before? Below, Art & Science outlined the key guidelines to follow when choosing an external agency to partner with. 

Why Do Some Companies Choose External Agencies? 

After years of working in the industry, we know there are a multitude of reasons why companies choose to work with external agencies in addition to or instead of working with an internal team. There are many different benefits to working with an external agency. Your company may lack the in house design capabilities needed, therefore it’s easier to look externally as opposed to hiring a team. An agency may also provide expertise in a certain area such as PPC (Google pay per click) or SEO (search engine optimization) that are needed for a campaign. 

Depending on the size and needs of your company the engagement length may vary. If you are a start up, you may require an agency at the beginning to help solidify your company’s brand strategy and image when you don’t yet have the internal resources. 

As a corporate and more established company, you may be seeking an external agency for a specific campaign launch or a fresh approach to your company’s digital brand strategy. Alternatively, you may be searching for a long-term partner who will grow your business over time, understand your overall customer touch points or who can track and accelerate lead generation for you. Some agencies will also act as consultants and help you bridge an internal generational leadership change, and guide you through the digitization process. 

How To Find The Perfect Fit 

Once your company has decided that they require the help of an external agency, there are a number of steps to follow to ensure that you pick the best agency for your business moving forward. The agency you choose to work with is an extension of your company – so you need to make sure that the team is a good cultural fit with your own team. Different agencies may have varying expertise in the service you require, so we recommend conducting an internal audit with your team of your business. Having a clear idea of your needs or main pain points before you start your search will be extremely helpful. 

When you’re ready to create a shortlist of agencies, we recommend searching your own network – whether this be company contacts or LinkedIn connections, referrals have a very high success rate when it comes to the formation of strong partnerships. If you want to make an independent decision, we recommend websites such as Clutch. 

Best Practices

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of agencies and finally settled on the one that’s right for your business needs, there are a number of best practices we recommend to make sure you have a strong partnership. Firstly, you should be clear on the costs of the work and the rates your agency is charging. Transparency on either side of the agency-client relationship is extremely important – ask for a walkthrough of their blended rates and their projected timeline for the project. Many agencies will offer a flexible and bespoke pricing model tailored to your needs, which means they might not have a set price sheet.

Secondly, pay attention to the approach and partnership style of the agency. Our experience is that the best results are achieved when the client and the agency embrace collaboration, rather than a slow moving hierarchical approach. At Art & Science, we strongly believe that information should be shared evenly amongst the teams to encourage self-governance and foster creative solutions across clients team and the partnering agency. From our experience, communication is key when working with an external agency. Although they’re the expert, you know your business and brand more than anyone. Maintaining an open, two-way conversation helps both parties be aligned with the results of the campaign. 

We’re always happy to help – if you’re looking for an agency partnership, get in touch.