When it comes to expanding the capabilities of your business, agencies can play a critical role. As HR professionals, we understand that it’s not enough for an agency to have the skills to get the job done — they must also complement the overall culture of the team.
This is especially important when engaging a marketing agency to build your employer brand and assist in managing your social media presence. Whether you’re looking for an agency to play a small, precise role or you’re in need of a major overhaul, it’s essential to pick one that meshes well with your company’s style of conducting business. An agency’s vision for your brand should be in harmony with your own.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the reasons why cultural fit is so important when choosing an agency, and explore avenues for making the right pick.
Agency culture matters
Just like your organization has its own culture, agencies have theirs as well. Though no two company cultures are exactly the same, finding an agency that resonates with your own brand values facilitates a much smoother business-to-business relationship. Ideally, your team should be supported by this incoming agency, rather than imposed upon. Much like any new hire, an agency should show a willingness to adapt to your company’s environment.
What to consider
The skills that HR professionals employ throughout the recruitment process lend themselves well to the auditioning of an agency. Choosing the right business partner requires a mix of practical understanding and personal intuition.
Be clear about culture — HR departments have to work to bridge any gaps in cultural understanding between their company and the agency in review. This may include differences in work style, issues surrounding brand identity, and the personal preferences of employees. Overcoming the resistance to change can take time, but invariably leads to a more welcoming and dynamic workplace.
Before finding the right fit for your company, your own brand values need to be well established and agreed upon within your team. The more well-defined your brand identity is, the easier it will be to determine whether an agency’s outlook is in line with yours. Is your brand looking to push the envelope, or is it more reserved? While different perspectives are valuable (and should be encouraged), by and large the culture of your prospective agency should run in parallel with your own.
Measure the agency’s willingness to learn — The best agencies work to understand the ins-and-outs of your business on a deep level. They gather insights about your business in order to suggest changes that are pertinent to your particular scenario.
The changes that an agency suggests should come from a place of mutual understanding of company goals. While these changes may be transformative, they should also accommodate your brand vision. In other words, an agency should encourage change within your business, but not in a way that flies in the face of your core values.
Notice how they promote themselves — If you’re hiring an advertising agency, pay attention to how they advertise themselves. Chances are, the way they promote themselves will be reflective of the way they will promote your business. Ensure that the promotional material they use doesn’t conflict with the personal and cultural sensitivities within your company. The agency’s promotional tactics should be ones that your own business could stand behind.
Emphasize analytics — Agencies are increasingly providing rapid measurements of marketing campaigns, sales, and other critical data. While the human, face-to-face element is an essential part of finding an agency worth partnering with, it’s also critical that they have the data to back up their claims. Consistent measurement increases the ability for your business to adapt to the market. Your team will appreciate being ahead of the game, and any skepticism of this new agency can be quelled when their claims are backed up by evidence.
Check out their office — Just like an agency’s promotional material can say a lot about how they advertise their clients, their office can reflect their business culture. If you can make the trip, a visit to their workplace will provide some insights into how they might collaborate with your brand. Agency offices that are brimming with innovative energy can be contagious to their clients. If you step foot into their office and think, “Our team could resonate with this,” that’s a very good sign.
Tracking down agencies to work with
As the role of HR professionals in the workplace continues to expand and change, it can be helpful to explore the resources available for agency information, ratings, and feedback. Agency listing sites can be helpful tools in determining whether or not a particular business-to-business partnership would work.
Taking the time to ensure that a prospective agency is compatible with your brand culture is well worth the effort. Your team — and hopefully, your bottom line — will be sure to appreciate it.