“Part of knowing who you are is knowing who you aren’t.” I first heard this quote from our head of business development, Dan Posner, while we were deep in discussion about our core values and better defining who Big Leap is as an agency and why we do what we do.
As Big Leap has grown and evolved, we’ve become very good at knowing who we are but also who we aren’t. It’s tempting for many agencies to want to take on any client and revenue opportunities that come their way. The reality is most agencies have a sweet spot. It could be particular services and skills or even the types of clients they work with.
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Over the last 10 years of working in agencies and consulting with clients, one of the main factors that determines success in a client/agency relationship is finding the right fit.
Even as a client, it may seem appealing to find the biggest, most recognized agency in the country but if you’re not in their sweet spot, it’s entirely possible your campaign may fail while it could have succeeded with another agency.
There are 6 main factors that we’ve identified in making sure that clients and agencies are the right fit for each other.
1. Strategy vs. Execution
Some agencies and consultants love to analyze, plan, and strategize for their clients but that’s where they stop. There can be a tremendous amount of value provided by this group but if you don’t have the capacity to execute, all the nice looking reports in the world aren’t going to move your campaign forward.
On the other hand, there are a lot of agencies out there who specialize in the execution but may be weaker on the strategy and planning aspects of a campaign. If you’re an experienced digital marketer and are blazing the trail for your company, this may be just what you need. Many of our clients have the expertise in-house but need a partner they can trust to help with the leg work.
There are definitely agencies that can do both but we typically find they’re better at one or the other. If I had to rate Big Leap, I’d say we probably lean 65% towards execution and 35% towards strategy.
2. Agency Size
There are amazing agencies that have 2 people and amazing agencies that have 200 people. There really is no right answer. However, the size of the agency can make a difference depending on your needs. There are pros and cons to both.
With the right small agency, you may have direct access to the most experienced exec. However, that may come with a high price tag. A mid-level marketer may be just as capable with certain tasks as a top exec, so why pay the price?
Large agencies can provide stability and a breadth of resources from video to analytics to web development. They often have good processes in place. However, sometimes that creates a level of inflexibility and can be more difficult to work with.
Ideally, you want to find the right “Goldilocks” fit for your business based on your resources and needs. One area where we see this come into play often is with startups and entrepreneurs. You may not be able to predict what your company is going to look like in 6 months so you need an agency that is nimble and flexible to change with you.
I’ve personally worked at both an agency that had 250 people and as an individual consultant when Big Leap was just getting started. With our current team size of about 80 people, we have a great mix of experienced individuals who can provide a strong offering in organic search, content marketing, and social media.
3. Industry Experience
There is definitely value in finding an agency that has experience in your industry. There are even agencies that specialize in various verticals. We’ve always taken a broader approach which we believe helps us learn and expand our knowledge outside of a single industry.
More important than the industry, we suggest finding out if an agency has had success with a similar type of conversion goal. For example, finding an agency that has experience selling online life coaching may be difficult but many agencies have experience driving conversions to a registration page.
Experience in a specific industry is definitely helpful but not one of the most important items when finding an agency that’s the right fit for you.