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How to choose the right marketing agency Ft. Daniel Weiner (Inbound Success, Ep. 186)

YouShouldTalkTo founder Daniel Weiner explains what brands should consider when searching for the right marketing agency partner.

How to choose the right marketing agency Ft. Daniel Weiner (Inbound Success, Ep. 186) Blog Feature

March 15th, 2021 min read

Working with an agency can be a great way to get valuable strategic advice, get more done, and get better marketing results—but finding the right agency partner isn't always as easy as it might seem.

Daniel WeinerThis week on The Inbound Success Podcast, YouShouldTalkTo founder Daniel Weiner digs into the dynamics that make for a successful agency-client relationship.

Daniel has built his career on helping match brands with the perfect agency for them, and he's seen what works and what doesn't.

Check out the full episode, or read the transcript below, to learn more about the factors that you should consider when searching for a marketing agency.

Resources from this episode:

 

Daniel Weiner and Kathleen Booth
Dan and Kathleen recording this episode

Transcript

Kathleen (00:01): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. I'm your host, Kathleen Booth. And today my guest is Daniel Weiner who is the founder of YouShouldTalkTo. Welcome to the podcast Daniel.

Daniel (00:24): Thank you for having me. I'm pumped to be here.

Kathleen (00:27): Tell my audience a little bit about what YouShouldTalkTo is. By the way, I love the name. And also about yourself and your story and how you came to be doing what you're doing today.

Daniel (00:37): Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate you liking the quirky name that I wish I could say there was a, a genius behind that, but it came to me one random morning and the URL was available. So I started that.

Kathleen (00:47): You know you've got a name when you can find the URL.

Daniel (00:50): That's what I'm talking about, but yeah, YouShouldTalkTo essentially pairs brands and marketers for free with vetted agencies or freelancers for virtually any marketing or technology need. I was VP of sales at an agency here in Atlanta for the last, roughly seven and a half years. So I led new business strategy, all that sort of stuff for many of our clients. And after resigning in July amidst the madness of COVID and trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, I was still getting contacted by former prospects and clients and stuff like that. So it was kind of dipping my toes into referring business, out to people I trusted and yeah, it was successful in the short term. So I decided roughly around September to go full steam ahead and I officially launched with a brand name and all that sort of good stuff beginning of September and been very exciting, stressful and everything in between ever since.

Kathleen (01:46): Well, I love it. And you know, I, I spent 11 years as the owner of an agency, so I've been on both sides of this. I've been an agency owner who is looking for companies to work with. I've been an in-house marketer for the last several years that works with agencies. And so I've definitely seen this from both sides. And this is going to be a little bit of a different episode for us because normally in these episodes, we talk about like how to do a certain kind of marketing, but that's not exactly what we're covering today.

And I'm actually really excited about what we are going to talk about because I think it's so important, which is how do you pick the right agency? And I say it's so important because most of the marketers I know, at some point or another, will work with an agency, whether it's for a very particular niche, like project or a particular aspect of their strategy, whether that's paid media or, you know, social or ABM, what have you, some marketers will work with agencies for all of their marketing, either way.

Kathleen (02:49): It can be either the greatest relationship you have that is a total game changer for you, or it can be the most horrible experience you've ever had leaving you feeling as though you have poured money down the toilet and gotten nothing for it. And I have seen both, I have experienced both.

And so I think it's super, super important to talk about if you are thinking of working with an agency, how do you find one that is right for you? And so like you do this for a living, you pair people. So I really want to kind of like dig into your head on, you know, what is that process you use to try and determine what agency or freelancer is going to be the right solution for a particular client?

Daniel (03:35): You bring up a lot of good points and it's definitely you know, the more marketers I talk to, it seems the norm is it's usually a pretty polarizing experience. It's either really good or really bad. And, you know the in-between doesn't exist as much as you would kind of hope it was. You know, I think it's obviously better to have no feelings about your agency than super negative about your agency.

But the short answer to what I do is it's honestly not a perfect science which is probably counter to what I should say from a sales perspective. It really depends on the personality of the person I'm talking to. And the marketer and the company and their goals. You know, somebody could say five different things on a call that makes me switch, you know, who I think is the best fit for them from an agency or a freelancer standpoint.

Daniel (04:24): But to me, the, the biggest thing comes down to who do you like the most? You know, unfortunately it's a bit of a popularity contest in that, in my opinion, you know, doing great work is the price of admission. You know, if you're an agency and you don't do good work, the rest is not going to come.

So, you know, there is no agency or freelancer or anyone that I would recommend, or hopefully anybody making a recommendation would give to someone if they didn't think they did good work, but it's, what do you think you can get the best work out of your head from to be completely honest, you know, who do you trust the most with potentially astronomically large sums of money from like a suspense standpoint, who do you trust when undoubtedly something goes wrong or there's the scope creep, you know, to help you get through it in the most efficient way possible, those types of things.

So it's hard to say like, you know, one exact thing that leads me in the right direction, but I've intentionally built out my agency network to theoretically be able to help virtually any type of company in any type of vertical and have several resources for them to chat with.

Kathleen (05:32): So let's break this down because I like that you brought up kind of doing good work as being table stakes. So in my mind, when I think about this topic, having been on both sides, there's like three categories of kind of evaluation that I would do. If I were going to work with an agency, one is like you said, will they do a good job? Do they have the expertise, the, the track record, et cetera. The second one is, and actually, maybe there's four.

The second one is culture fit. You know, I, I do think there's some intangibles around like just culturally, are they aligned with me? The third one is what I would call like operating styles slash communications, you know, like, is it an agile shop or is it a waterfall project management shop, but also like overall, how do they communicate with their customers? You know, and what am I going to find that, that communication, cadence and style works for me.

And then the fourth category is like, who you're going to be assigned to, because this is a big one. There are lots of agencies out there that do amazing work, but if you're shuffled off to like a junior PM who doesn't know what they're doing, you may not get the benefit of it. So to me, there's like, those are the four categories. I'm curious to know what you think about that taxonomy that I just rattled off.

Daniel (07:03): I completely agree. I actually wrote a blog post right when I launched about, I think those were four of the five that I have in the blog posts to me three and four that you listed are arguably the most important. So we, you know, we both agree that everybody's got to do good work to get good work though.

It's a, you know, a two-way street of communication between the marketer and the agency. You know, I think a lot of people, which is, you know, a misnomer is if you hire an agency, your problems are fixed or you're automatically getting, you know, amazing work. And you know, you only get as good, you know, if the, if the input isn't good, the output isn't going to be good either.

Kathleen (07:43): Right. And let's be honest. I just want to say this for the record. It's not always the agency's fault. There are many clients who make it really difficult for an agency to help them.

Daniel (07:56): Yeah. So, you know, you bring up a good point. I'll get back to the four things you mentioned, but you just made me think. Yeah. You know, I hear from part of what I take out of this process is if you, as a marketer ask somebody, you know, one of your friends or colleagues, you know, do you have a good agency? You know, you're either going to get, yeah, I have a great agency or you're going to get a no don't ever work with these people.

And neither of those are objective, you know, just because you had an incredible experience with an agency, doesn't mean they're the right fit for your friend. And if you had a completely horrific experience, you know, it doesn't mean they wouldn't be the best fit for your friend as well. You know, there's, what is it, two sides to every story and the truth, you know, typically somewhere in between.

Daniel (08:35): But I think number three, a number four communication style and the team you're working with are the most important, because I think that's the quickest way to tarnish or end an agency client relationship. If the work is incredible, that's great. If the communication sucks you're just going to be miserable. You're going to be annoyed and you're going to, you know, it just breaks down.

If you're not, I would argue that's more important than the work, knowing where they're at, you know, in your project, knowing what milestones are coming up, you know, which makes to me a project manager is one of the most important roles or the account lead, you know, with, with, depending on the type of agents to be.

Kathleen (09:13): I would go so far as to say, you can't have great work without good communication. I just, I think marketing is so collaborative and I just can't imagine a scenario where your agency wasn't communicating well with you and, and the work product could ever be what it needs to be.

Daniel (09:29): It's what makes people the most angry too, from my experience, you know, like at my former agency, we did a lot of big website projects, you know, that were six, nine months long, sometimes stuff like that. And very rarely when it was what I would call a successful project, would we get to the end?

And they'd say, wow, like the website is the best thing I've ever seen when they were really happy. It was like, wow, like you made this stressful thing, supremely less stressful. And like, you know, we knew where you were at. So we could report to our board and our C suite and that type of stuff. So I, I completely agree there, but yeah, if there is a communication breakdown, regardless of how talented the team is, you're never going to get what you want from your agency as well.

Daniel (10:10): So I think that's first and foremost, if I had to tear them, even being able to, you know, eloquently and appropriately communicate the ask, you know, you can, anybody can say, I need a website or I need a logo.

Those types of things, when creative is getting involved at such a personal thing and, and a good agency is going to be able to take what's in your head and put it to paper, which is like, sometimes when I've been involved in those projects, I'm amazed by creative people because I'm like, how the hell did you do that?

You know, they gave you a bunch of statements and you turned this into something awesome that they were like, Oh, that's exactly what we wanted. One of the most common things I do here though, is, you know, when I'm making introductions is, yeah, we want to make sure we're, we're dealing with the, a team or you know, senior level people and stuff.

Daniel (10:57): Which, to be honest, I don't have a good answer to that. You know, the hope is everybody's the team. Even though that's not the case probably, but it is really important. I encourage everybody I talk to to ask those questions, Hey, I'm talking to you now. If I sign a contract with you, am I still talking to you or am I, you know, getting passed to other people?

Those types of questions, because yeah, when you sign a contract with an agency, you should be a really excited. That's one of the things that I tell every marketer I talk to. If you're not excited to sign this contract, you probably need to talk to more agencies.

Kathleen (11:34): I would say, and I'll jump in there because I would say when you, you know, when you talked about how do you know if you're going to get the A team, right. My take on this is that if you, it depends where you are in your evolution of work. So I'll give you an example. Pay-Per-Click marketing. I I've been going through this for the last several months, trying to like get a new pay-per-click funnel built. And I went with an agency and I didn't know a lot about them.

They were, I was introduced to them by somebody and clearly a great agency. The person that was assigned to me was lovely, great communicator, but I think she was, she wasn't like the top subject matter expert in the agency. She was doing the best she could. But I think when you're first, like in my case, when you're first developing your funnel, when, when, what you're looking for is much more like thought leadership and strategy at that stage.

Kathleen (12:39): Sometimes it might make sense to go to a much tinier agency or even like a freelancer. When, you know, you're going to get the senior level person who's been there, done that. And that's actually what I'm doing. I'm going to, I'm going to move to an agency that is an agency of one, essentially. It's a, it's a person who is an incredibly experienced PPC person, because I know I need that senior level attention on my funnel because we're just building it.

Once it's humming along, if I have a well running funnel and it's just a matter of like checking in and tweaking and introducing some new creatives now. And then like, that's, when I think I could, I could go back to an agency like the first one I had because it's more of a maintenance project.

So I do think there's this element of, like, you have to understand what it is you're looking for out of the agency you're working with and kind of match your solution with that. If that makes sense.

Daniel (13:32): It does a hundred percent, I think that comes back. You know, I, I kind of skate sales and marketing. So I think, you know, the biggest thing for me when I was doing straight sales was you know, expectation management. Like what are you expecting, you know, in terms of communication and who you work with, but that, you know, you bring up a good point.

That was when I first launched, I didn't intend to do this on the freelance side as well. And the very first call I took was with a large company in Atlanta that had a tiny need. And it was similar to your situation, you know, if they had gone to an agency, they probably would've paid substantially more and had not as intimate or senior of an experience than they needed. So I started doing this with freelancers as well.

Daniel (14:17): And I, it, a lot of it's so situational, right? So a lot of times I'm talking people out of working with agencies at a particular stage, because I don't think they're ready in my opinion, or they're not going to get what they want, but yeah, it depends a lot on the personality.

I find a lot of marketers have in their mind, they have to hire an agency and they don't necessarily, you know, I love all the agencies that I partner with and work with, but if you get them to a client at the wrong period of time, it's never going to work.

Kathleen (14:45): Yeah. And if your budget isn't like, that's the other thing. If you have a small budget and you get, you go to a bigger agency, you are going to be given very junior level person. Like you just are

Daniel (14:55): No, you're right. And I intentionally like, I'm most likely not the solution for a you know, really big holding company agency or anything like that. I I've intentionally tried to only partner and work with agencies from like 15 to 40 head count. Because again, now that I'm in the middle and I remain objective, I really do want to give the brand, you know, my promise to agencies are, I of course, want you to close.

And I think you're wonderful, but before anything, I want to be an objective advocate for the brand to get whatever they want and get the best work and all of that stuff. And it's it's interesting.

Every marketer I speak to, I've learned more in the last five months, I feel about in terms of marketing now being in the middle between agency and brand, because once they hear that I'm free to them, I get all this information that I never got when I was selling and beating my chest, that our agency was the best.

And it really is. People just want to work with people. They like who are trustworthy and can, you know, help them look good to their peers and their, you know, their colleagues and stuff, pull it down.

Kathleen (15:57): Well, let's, let's actually break this down and get really specific now. So we mentioned a bunch of categories of, of like, or factors that play into whether it's the right fit. Let's go back to the very first thing we talked about, which is they have to do great work. If somebody is out there shopping for an agency, that's obviously going to be their number one question, do they do great work?

How do you figure that out? Because every agency makes it sound as though they do. I mean, we're all in marketing, let's be honest. We know how to make ourselves sound really good.

Daniel (16:26): I was going to say like, contrary to popular belief, I think it's a little bit impossible because again, you're going to get case studies that look great. You're going to see former, nobody's going to send you something that you think you hate. So I almost recommend, like, I think saying I hear it all the time when people say like, Oh, I want a company with a proven track record of success.

You know? Well, they're going to only show you the case to every, any agency who says they have no negative, you know, case studies or they've never done a campaign that didn't perform well is, you know, respectfully lying.

So I would say, you do the best you can. If you see work that you like, that shows you that they are capable of doing that, but you still don't know the story behind it. So I think you go in with a little bit of an open mind.

Kathleen (17:13): Do you check references? Do you read review sites? Like, are there other proxies for that?

Daniel (17:19): I think references are great if you can get to them that aren't provided by the agency, because again, they're going to give you the people who love them, which again, you know, not to poo poo on agencies, but if you want to get the real story, that's why I like to think my service is super valuable because I'm giving you my two cents and I'm pushing you in one direction and you get to make your own decision, but yeah, references are great.

I think were view sites. Again, I take it with a grain of salt, you know, to equate it, to like the restaurant industry. You know, if you go a Yelp and you look up a restaurant, probably gonna see a lot of negative of people that you don't know the context around what happened. So asking colleagues is a good thing and asking for companies that have worked with them, if you're able to have access to it.

But I think as a marketer, the more you go through your career, you get a good feel for who you think is is, you know, full of it. And who you think is going to give you a good performance and all that sort of stuff.

Kathleen (18:13): All right. So some of the other factors let's talk about communication. How do you, as a marketer, who's looking to hire an agency that, you know, are they going to be good communicators? Are there questions that you can ask as in the evaluation process? Like what are some ways you can suss that out?

Daniel (18:31): I always recommend marketers put that a hundred percent on them of what they want and a good agency, theoretically, unless it's something, you know, insane will potentially push back a little. But I think the marketers should drive that ship. What makes their life easier?

And put it to the agency is that, you know, within the realm of possibility and if possible to take it a layer deeper, I would put it in the contract. If there's anything you can contractually obligate yourself to have check-ins or reporting and stuff like that of when you expect it.

But again, it's a feel thing too, you know, as, as a project manager and somebody in sales as well, like you can tell when someone needs a touch point, you know, and it's not a tangible some of the time, but as a marketer, I always recommend they go to the table and give the agency as much as they're comfortable giving, you know, we expect a weekly check-in.

Kathleen (19:22): I was going to say, what are some examples of things that you could ask for?

Daniel (19:25): I, you know, for bigger projects, I'd always want to know where we're at in the project. And I think like an end of week check-in, depending on how deep the engagement is, it's not too much to ask and it can take two seconds.

Like, you know, the stuff that we talked about a lot at my former agency in terms of communications was some of these things really do take two seconds and they don't have to be super detailed and crazy reporting and stuff like that.

I think a monthly check-in is normal, I think, or quarterly if you're doing reporting or anything like performance related, I think you know, monthly reporting and then a quarterly like QBR of sorts to look at the whole program.

Looking at stuff for 30 days doesn't oftentimes tell you the entire story. But yeah, I mean, I have plenty of people for like bigger spends that I talk to, you know, if you're spending, you know, half a million dollars a month, they want to see live reporting and some sort of dashboard, which at that type of spend level, I don't think is, you know, overkill. And if an agency is not willing to do that, then that doesn't work for you. And to me, that's an amicable way of saying this isn't gonna work.

Kathleen (20:34): Is it reasonable to expect access via Slack, you know, like, or real time responses?

Daniel (20:43): I think it's unnecessary because if you have a good relationship with your agency, to me, Slack for the company is like a safe space to to, you know, you, you've got your day to day, but if you have a good relationship, you know, you're typically getting the cell phone of your account lead or your project manager.

And if you shoot a timely email, like they should be replying in a timely manner. But you know, it depends, I know some agencies who have their clients are one person from their client in a Slack community with them, for, you know, quick communication and stuff like that.

So if that, again, I go back to the beginning of that's the expectation of what you want, whether it's right or wrong, you're, you're in control of the budget and then your expectations. So as long as you tell them that upfront, I don't think that's a bad thing.

Kathleen (21:26): Now what about like project management styles? Because in the last several years, I feel like there's been this movement within the agency world to adopt agile for marketing. And I've worked at companies that have used it and companies that have not, my experience has been that it, for it to work, you really have to have a lot of communication and education because most clients don't understand agile.

Certainly not as it applies to marketing. I think if you do that, well, it can work, but it can also lead to a lot of frustration around like, well, why, what do you mean something's not in the sprint? Or what have you, so like what do you think people should know about that? And does it, maybe you, maybe you think it doesn't matter, but I'm curious to get your take on it.

Daniel (22:17): Yeah, I have. Most of my answers will probably be somewhere in the middle, but I think it matters in the sense that you think of it like this. If you hire an agency for a bunch of money and then you tell them to do a different project management style, like, you know, you, you want them to do what has worked.

You've decided they've won and you're going to work with them. You want their process. If that's something insane, you should probably know that before, you know, you engage with them. In my seven and a half years at my former agency, I don't think our project management style came up once or anybody asked for a specific, you know, a type of project management.

It was more the frequency like, Hey, it would be great if you could send a weekly recap of what's going on in the project, or if we can have a weekly 10 minute check-in that happens, you know, 45 times a week with everyone I talked to.

Kathleen (23:11): I do find, I do find that project management comes up you're right. Like it never came up when I had my agency, but when I worked at the agency that used agile, it came up all the time because people didn't understand, like, what do you mean if I want to do X that it's going to be this many points?

And what do you mean I have to wait until the next sprint? Like, there's, it just, it was like a complicating factor that I think could it introduced friction a lot of the time. And I actually like agile. I just think, like, I think it can introduce friction if you don't handle it well, and you don't educate your client.

Daniel (23:46): My experience with sprints and stuff of that nature too, is it it causes friction because I think sometimes it's arbitrary. Like, you've put, we're going to do this in two weeks because that lines up with something else, but it really might be like something that should take three or four weeks, you know? So you're, you're speeding things up and putting them in a box that don't necessarily need to be. I know a lot of product companies I talk to bill based on sprints and stuff like that.

And it's easier from their development team standpoint to see where things are at with a project. And, you know, once they finish one sprint, they can clearly move on to the next. But you know, it, it all comes back to, again, like if you're the client and you're controlling this budget, you know, you're, you're not necessarily doing the agency a favor, but I tell people all the time, I give them the answer.

If you want this thing, ask for it. The worst they'll say is no. And if that's a deal-breaker don't work with them, you know? I don't, for me personally, like I want whatever the agency, if I was the marketer, I want whatever the agency does best. I don't put them into some situation of like, figuring out how to use some other system or tool or project management style. So

Kathleen (24:51): Most agencies will just turn you away as a client if you want them to do that anyway, because it's not really realistic.

Daniel (24:56): The good ones I think what I find is a lot of smaller hungrier agencies will just say yes.

Kathleen (25:03): And that in and of itself could be a red flag. If somebody is saying yes, and you're making that kind of an ask, maybe you should walk away.

Daniel (25:10): Yeah. A hundred percent. I think that's one of the biggest thing that separates good agencies from the bad or good from great is willingness to say no to stuff and, and push back respectfully on stuff that they don't think is going to work. You know, I hear that line all the time that, you know, clients want agencies that will push back.

And I, from my experience clients, they want it to a certain degree, not uncertain things. And there, there is a line of well, we're paying you now, like don't push back too much. So I think coming to a happy medium between client and agency pre contract signature is super important.

Kathleen (25:45): Yep. Agreed. all right. I think the one we haven't covered yet is culture and it sounded like you didn't have that high on your list. I't not as much of a deal breaker as some of these other things, but I do feel like there's like a culture fit aspect to, can we work well together? I'm curious to get your take on that.

Daniel (26:08): Yeah. I think it's moved up the list of priorities in the past few years and stuff like that. And the biggest thing I can tie to it that I think is a really good example of it is diversity. You know, if you're, you know, a company looking to increase, you know, visibility around diversity and stuff like that, you do want a diverse agency and you want people of all shapes and colors and size and fit and all that sort of stuff. And that aligned there.

You know, if you are a non-profit like, you may not I'm trying to think there, you know, like you may not want an agency that's working with stuff super counter to your nonprofit, or, you know, when I think of like hotbed or guns and cigarettes and stuff like that, like there is a line where culture comes into play and it's different for every person.

But when I think of culture, I think it's super important. The team makeup of like, you know, if you're a fun, cool brand, like you'd probably want a fun, cool agency.

Kathleen (27:06): Yeah. That's kinda what I'm thinking of. Like there, there's also like if you're super buttoned up and formal, you know, like, I don't know. I'm just guessing, like if you're IBM, you may not go to an agency that, that is really like young and casual and hipster.

And like, there's that aspect too. And, and I guess that's where culture kind of also veers into like aesthetics and design sense and things like that. But but I do think there's something to that of like, you want an agency that's similar to you so that they just get you more easily.

Daniel (27:40): Yeah. And I think it comes back to the work to look like it's easier and you don't have to be like, you know, exactly the same as the people, but your, your personalities can't clash to get good work.

You know, they have to align in some capacity. And the reason I say it's a little bit of a, you know, a popularity contest is because if you just actually don't like the people and you don't mash well, like you're probably not going to look forward to working with them.

And it's, you're, you're, you're starting off, you know you know combating rather, rather than being super excited and ready to create whatever awesome work you're trying to do with them.

Kathleen (28:15): Yeah. So we covered those four categories that I mentioned in the beginning. What did we miss? What else should people be looking for?

Daniel (28:22): I think budget and just transparency around budget, which is something I try to take out of the process as much as possible for both sides by talking about it is something that's like a dirty word.

A lot of the times, you know, I've in my experience in my former agency, very rarely were we given a budget, it was always, you should tell us what, you know, our budget should be with something I heard a lot which I think is a little bit of a time waste for both sides.

So I really attempt when I'm talking to the brand to tell me and think of their budget it just takes out so much of the back and forth. And I think it gets you to a better place with your agency earlier by saying, look, we have X amount of dollars, or we would hope to spend X amount of dollars.

Daniel (29:07): How do we use that the best, you know, rather than this, you know, the thing I hated the most, the few times it occurred is if you send, you know, a proposal for a hundred thousand dollars, and everybody has in their mind what something should cost, and they were thinking $50,000, you're automatically disqualified.

Because they you know, you didn't have those conversations upfront where there probably is a spot where you could have done something for $50,000 that they liked. So I try to take encourage people to think really deeply about their budget. And then the biggest thing I encouraged that we didn't talk about is whether or not you're ready for an agency. Like you have to, it's a lot of time and effort on yourself as well to make an agency successful.

Kathleen (29:52): You know, we talked at the beginning about having an intern. It's so funny, like everyone's always like, yes, get an intern, you'll get help. And it's like, no, God, sometimes interns just take so much work, you know, to organize and train and manage.

Daniel (30:04): It is a full on relationship and marriage and my, your agency can't be successful if you're not providing them a ton of information, feedback, strategy, you know, agencies, there's just no way at the beginning that an agency can know a brand as well as the brand knows itself.

So at least at the beginning, there just needs to be so much time and energy spent in making sure your investment is protected and going as far as possible. So when people immediately jump to, I want an agency, I encourage them to take a step back and say, are we ready to make this investment and make it successful?

Kathleen (30:43): Yeah. That's, that's great advice. What are any other advice that you would give if somebody is out there thinking of re-evaluating their agency process like during that vetting process, any other best practices for them to be aware of?

Daniel (31:01): I'm very anti RFP. I think it puts a lot of stress on the entire situation. You know, I know for bigger companies, oftentimes they have to for procurement purposes and stuff, but when people are thinking of going through RFP, I really encourage them to just put together a very neat brief so that they can compare agencies, apples to apples without putting them through this gauntlet of you know, sometimes free work and stuff like that.

But I think it's also really difficult in an RFP process to get to know some of these agencies as well, the things that we talked about, personality and, and that thing, because it's a, it's a competition and you're, you're giving what you think they want to win this thing. And then oftentimes you're figuring out what you're actually doing after the fact.

Kathleen (31:47): Yeah, that is such a great point. I could not agree with you more for two reasons. Number one, some of the best agencies flat out won't won't compete for an RFP because they don't need to because they get so much work without it. And RFPs are a hassle and a lot of work.

And so if you have an RFP very often, you, you eliminate your ability to work with the top agencies because they don't have the time for that is number one. And number two, you're absolutely right.

Like you're going to an agency because they're the experts, especially, especially if you're going to an agency like that, and you're asking them to develop your strategy, like going in thinking that, you know, what you need and writing an RFP is going to tie your hands and prevent agencies from being and telling you what you need, as opposed to just catering to what you think you need. Like, that's my experience 100%.

Daniel (32:48): No, I agree. And I work with several agencies who will not compete in blind RFPs, you know, at my former shop, you wouldn't either in less, we knew someone there and it was a formality where they'd had to go through RFP and we already had a relationship, or we were able to have a like regular hour long meeting prior to submission, you know, some have the question and answer phase and stuff, which still doesn't oftentimes give you enough information back and forth.

But yeah, I just think it's a an antiquated system for picking agencies. It might apply more for whittling down like a short list, say if you've got 10 agencies and you want to get to five, you know, that could be a decent first step in my opinion, but it oftentimes just turns both sides off.

In my opinion, I've seen plenty of RFPs where they're asking for free ideas and strategies and creative work, and it's just a stressful process for for all involved, I would say.

Kathleen (33:43): So my last question is, is this so often when companies go and look for agencies, their mindset is very much around, what do I need the agency to do for me? What am I looking for in the agency to be able to deliver value to me?

Selfishly as somebody who used to own an agency, I'm going to ask you this question, which is what should we, as the potential client of the agency understand is our obligation and what is the part that we need to play in making an agency relationship successful?

Daniel (34:18): Yeah, it comes down to communication. I'd say as the first step, step one, one a of a million steps would be to clearly and concisely communicate your ask of what and I would put it in two columns, one being tactics slash services.

What do you think you want them to do? And what is the home run outcome or performance metric that if you're trending in that direction, what makes this a lifelong relationship? Those two things to me are the most important cause that kicks it off.

And then, yeah, just thinking about your own time, you know, if you're a VP of marketing CMO, your day is probably crazy busy. You know, once you hire an agency, if you're going to be the one managing it or being involved, I would make sure you have time.

I'll audit to have those conversations and give the agency at the beginning, at least truthfully, whatever they need to be successful, you know, access to certain platforms and data and all those things.

Daniel (35:23): And then, you know, I typically encouraging if you are a VP or a CMO that you have somebody else managing the day to day, you know, the, the agency isn't just going to replace everything you do for most engagements agency.

If it's a straight execution thing, somebody is creating, you know, 10 blog posts a month for you or whatever that may be. It's a little different, but for bigger agency engagements, I would think just being realistic with your own time is an excellent, a way to make sure at the beginning that you're getting the most out of your agency.

Kathleen (35:56): Yep. Absolutely. All right. Well, speaking of time, we are coming up to the end of ours. So I have two questions. I always ask my guests and I want to make sure I check in with you on these first one being, we talked all about inbound marketing on this podcast. Is there a particular person or company or agency that you think is really knocking it out of the park when it comes to inbound marketing these days?

Daniel (36:20): From the company side, honestly, it's timely. I would say RobinHood's had an embroiled a couple of weeks of I don't know, good or bad publicity however, you look at PR. But I would say their podcast Snacks Daily is my favorite, one of my favorite podcasts. It's daily, it's 20 minutes long.

I think it's three investment stories, pop culture related. I think they do an incredible job at that. And then Morning Brew I can't say enough good things about. I think they do an incredible job you know, just making it as relevant as it is. And I look forward to that every single day, honestly.

Kathleen (37:00): That's great. Second question. Marketers always I think suffer from this drinking from a fire hose problem where digital marketing changes really quickly. It can be very, very hard to stay on top of all of that. How do you personally keep on top of that changing landscape and make sure that you stay educated?

Daniel (37:20): I read a ton. I consume a ton. I'm sad to say I don't read a ton of books anymore because I didn't want to content. I read per day. That seems daunting at the end of the day. Can't believe I'm saying this and this is forever on the internet, but Tik Tok has become a central point of truth for a lot of marketing and news-related items. So digestible. And Adweek does a really good job in particular on there.

They do a I think it's weekly, a weekly 60 second segment of what you missed in the world of marketing and advertising, while you were doing everything else you need to do. Mashable, I've been reading for like the last 10 years and stuff like that. And then yeah, Morning Brew, The Skimm are how I start my my day.

And they both typically have either subsets of their newsletters or separate newsletters. The Morning Brew has Emerging Tech. I think it's called that. I read almost every day as well. So I try to control as much without making myself go blind by reading all of these things. What's what's, what's your go-to?

Kathleen (38:25): Well, my go-to is hosting a podcast and learning from all the people that come on as my guests.

Daniel (38:30): That's the best answer you could give.

Kathleen (38:36): Some of the newsletters you mentioned are on my list, but I, yeah, I am a voracious consumer of content and my LinkedIn feed and Twitter feed. On Twitter I am ruthless in how I curate. I don't follow a lot of people and if I'm not getting value, I unfollow. And so my Twitter feed is extremely helpful to me. Linkedin, I have a much bigger network, but I still find a lot of value there.

Daniel (39:00): Well, if you ever follow me on Twitter and I see you unfollow me, I'll know I'm not a curator for you.

Kathleen (39:10): Yup. All right. Well, thank you, Daniel. This has been so great. For those listening, if you enjoyed this episode or you liked what you heard and learned something new, please consider going to Apple Podcasts and leaving the podcast a review. And if you know someone else doing amazing inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork. Last question, Daniel. If somebody wants to find you online, what is the best way for them to do that?

Daniel (39:35): Www.Youshouldtalkto.Com or Daniel@YouShouldTalkTo.com. And I'm also a very active on LinkedIn if anyone wants to connect there.

Kathleen (39:46): Awesome. Well, I will put all those links in the show notes. So head over there to get in touch with Daniel. And that's it for this week. Thanks so much, Daniel. This was a lot of fun.

Daniel (39:55): Thank you. I appreciate it.

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