People often ask us, is it better to get an agency to do marketing, or to build a team in-house? Our answer has always been consistent – to build a team in-house. However, it is always good to get an agency to help you – if you have aggressive targets to hit, and your team is still young and needs nurturing. So, how to pick a good marketing agency?

Responsiveness

Startups are typically fast-movers, with very demanding timelines. For example, a campaign idea may surface today, only to be launched the next day. The reason is of course to bolster sales. Founders are unfamiliar with stagnant or low-growth numbers. As a result, traditional marketing agencies are tyically unfit to service most startups, as they usually take a longer time to plan and execute. Pick an agency which is reasonably responsive to your needs.

Track record

Always ask for their past clients, and ask to be shown the portfolio or work the agency has done. An agency with good track record goes a long way in guaranteeing that all your bases are covered. Experience trumps ideas, and most of the time, a one-man (experienced) team can work wonders.

KPI-driven

Overall, it is always good to try out any agencies you want – to see results. If you have no benchmark to make comparison, use 2 or 3 agencies at one go, and give them a test budget. It does not have to be big, and it depends on your risk appetite. Do this before signing on for full time.

11Street plasters its brand on the metro (in Bangkok) – how did they measure their KPI? How many visitors or purchases resulted from this advertising spend? Was the campaign well thought through – Probably NOT

The most important metric to measure would be your return on investment (ROI) for any particular campaign. Work on agreed upon key performance indicators (KPI), before sending the agencies off to spend your money. It can be as simple as how many installs you had on your app, or how many sales enquiries was generated. A good agency will suggest further solutions – such as a way to track the KPIs accurately (typically using tracking software), so watch out for this!

Cost consciousness

Let’s admit it, no one wants a big agency who’s not cost conscious. Many big agencies are used to deploying millions (of dollars) worth of budget, splashing on billboards and tv ads. However, when it comes to specific campaigns – typically digital only, they are dumbfounded, and would usually recommend you to do a marketing mix (digital + offline). This is not a good sign.

An agency who’s cost conscious (on behalf of the client – i.e. you), might probably speak in lingos and jargons that you wouldn’t understand such as cost per click, cost per download, remarketing, and so on. It basically means, the ROI you get for a certain amount of ad spend.

Adaptability

Finally, a reliable agency should be solution-oriented. Not all campaigns or tests will go well. The most important thing is that the agency (or your manager) must know how to recalibrate and look for solutions – being adaptable is really important.

Being adaptable also means doing most of the heavy lifting. A reliable agency should be able to guide the client onto the right direction, and be able to execute client’s long terms marketing goals.

Say for example, your cost per download (of your app) is too high. A smart agency would know how to report to you this issue, and find ways and means to reduce the cost. It could be that your desired market of entry was NOT SUITABLE, or that the banner (for ads) that you WANTED in particular simply wasn’t suitable but you insisted initially.

A good agency would know how to tell you it went bad, and find solutions to fix it.

Conclusion

Finding a good marketing agency takes time, and it also takes plenty of communication from the client’s side (i.e. your side). You can’t simply just tell them to do the marketing, without all the necessary information. As your company grows, it is definitely wiser to get your own team. At Momentum Works, we’re simply fortunate enough to have trained our team well. If you need any help, you know how to reach us.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at hello@mworks.asia.

 

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He has worn many hats in the past - selling advertising space, banking services, and even trading stocks. In 2013, longing for a change of scenery, he joined Rocket Internet’s (now Alibaba’s) Lazada as a online marketer in Bangkok, where he experienced first hand life in a startup. He never looked back since - landing lead roles at Rocket’s EasyTaxi (Singapore), Rocket’s MEIG (Dubai), and Bamilo (Tehran). After that, he launched (and ran) the Thai venture for one of Singapore’s biggest cross-border ecommerce. Last year, Chong put his expertise to work, helping an SGX-listed company relocate to and run operations in Thailand. Nowadays, he’s just chilling by the countryside.