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The Big Questions to Ask When Evaluating an Advertising Agency.

Appointing and retention of the right agency is critical for a client because of the key role that the communications agencies are able to play in promoting the company and its brands, thus enhancing its ultimate profitability. With the upsurge of advertising agencies, and some claiming to be, it can be Herculean to pick the right agency in Kenya. Therefore, the next few key points in this article will help CMOs and Marketing Directors in their search.

Dentsu Aegis Network Kenya CEO, Christopher Madison, says that it is important to first understand who you are dealing with. “It might seem obvious, but clients should consider holding chemistry meetings at the beginning of the search process. Selected agencies that match the desired criteria can share credentials information, case studies, and hold initial chemistry meetings with a client.” This can help the client to develop a brief or RFP targeted at clarifying the differences between the considered agencies.

Before signing with a new agency, the managing director at Isobar Kenya, Yash Deb, says that clients should allow adequate time for agencies to have separate meetings to discuss the brief, ask questions, and to talk through their normal delivery process which would include client feedback. “Don’t underestimate the value of seeing how an agency normally works to evaluate team ‘fit’. Secretly, this allows you to confirm that the team on the pitch will actually work on your brand after the process is over.

Keep in mind that award winning proposals can take weeks to develop in an ongoing relationship, three weeks’ minimum is suggested for the development of work for a full agency pitch.” If you want the best agency for your brand, give them enough time to submit their very best proposal. “When agencies have more time and access to the client it is much easier to identify weak and strong agencies.” Different pitch approaches, such as extended credentials, ‘think-pieces’, strategic recommendations, and workshops, can take less time and still be effective if time is an issue.

Brands looking to work with digital marketing partners, to extend their capabilities and enhance their performance online, are now confronted with a myriad of competing agency models, all claiming to be the best. Joel Rao, CEO at iProspect Kenya, insists that “Reputation and Client References are the best way to identify credible agencies in Kenya”. In an era where there are more make-believe digital agencies than knock-off Gucci’s and Polo’s in the market, it can be jarring to sign the dotted line. It may be worth digging a little deeper, doing further research and even making some direct inquiries to see how their existing clients really feel about their services.

Here is the final consideration in starting an agency relationship: Size matters. This one really goes without saying, but it can’t be stressed enough.  It is vitally important from a client perspective to get this balance right, as it will dictate the level of service and priority you are given.  Any Marketing Manager that has found themselves in the bottom end of the agency’s client list will likely know this experience all too well – You are not the priority. If, however, you ‘tip the scales’ too far in the opposite direction, you end up with effectively the same issue and your agency team won’t be able to cope with the demands you need to drive your strategy.

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