• Bloom Content Team

How to select an agency? 5 ways to decide

Choosing the right agency for your high-growth tech scale-up is an important decision that can backfire if not handled correctly. Perhaps you've been "burned" from a previous agency experience, or you're lacking the clarity of that a solid decision-making framework can bring.

We know there are agencies a dime a dozen. Finding one isn't hard, but finding the correct one for you certainly requires a little more effort.

Remember: is an agency the right solution for your business at this stage? Before you dive into briefing and pitches, ask yourself these 3 questions to assess whether or not working with an agency is the right fit at all.

If you know that working with an agency is the right fit for you, then follow the below 5-step framework to decide:

Step 1: Clarify your priorities

Step 2: Assess the agency track record

Step 3: Talk money

Step 4: Evaluate the team fit

Step 5: Explore how you'd work together

Step 1: Clarify your priorities

Now you know that working with an agency is the right fit for your business right now, then - before you even reach out to potential partners - get clear on what you need from an external agency.

This includes both the hard-nosed business objectives as well as the softer side, like the sort of people you want to talk to on a regular basis.

This clarification of priorities also includes distinguishing between your absolute non-negotiables (like team fit, for example) versus your nice-to-haves (like being based in the same city as you).

Step 2: Assess the agency track record

Once you're clear on requirements and start looking at possible agency partners, pay attention to proof points on their work. Their experience can be demonstrated through case studies, testimonials, social media activity, other clients, awards received, or other special initiatives.

When assessing an agency's track record, do be mindful of exactly what you're assessing them on. They could have a gorgeous shiny website and 5-star reviews (like us) - but is that actually telling you what you need to know about them?

Do you need to see, for example, key results achieved for a particular type of work? Do you need to get a feel of what the team is like and their calibre? Do you need industry experience demonstrated by another client operating in the same space as yours?

In Bloom's case, for example, we are a sector-agnostic agency - working with high-growth tech scale-ups across various industries - from health like Elephant, mobility like Havn, jewellery like Covett, recruitment like Tempo, virtual reality like Mesmerise... the list goes on. Chances are we may well have 1 or 2 case studies in your particular industry, but our niche is in the service we provide and stage at which we help our clients. (Brand marketing for high-growth tech scale-ups).

Step 3: Talk money

Hopefully you've already defined the available budget before you even think about reaching out to agencies (or at least have a range in mind).

For initial outreach, this marks the difference between Saatchi&Saatchi or a boutique overseas setup.

Once you've opened conversations with possible agency partners, have the money chat as soon as you feel comfortable. In our experience, it's better to get this out the way as early on as possible in the conversation. It could mean the difference between a high-quality pitch process and a futile exercise that's wasted everyone's time.

Step 4: Evaluate the team fit

With the basics ticked off your checklist, you're now freed up to assess the culture fit between yours and the agency's teams.

Formal ways of evaluating a team's culture can include looking at their core company values, listening to their backstory, asking why they do what they do, and reading up on their company structure.

For Bloom, our company values are boiled down to 4 x keywords: expertise, execution, refreshing, and courtesy. We take pride in our knowledge yet recognise we are always learning (expertise). As much as we strategise and research, we also love putting things into action (execution). We are a straight-talking and down to Earth bunch who do things in a slightly different way (refreshing). And we highly value mutual respect and professionalism - with each other and our partners (courtesy).

In a less formal way, be open to the chit-chat with your prospective collaborators - it's likely you have other common ground with each other on a more personal level (like hometown, university, or shared passions). This helps bond and simply get to know each other a little better.

At the end of the day, successful partnerships are all about the people involved, so it pays to tune into your intuition and spend some time getting to know each other.

Step 5: Explore how you'd work together

Before anyone signs on the dotted line, test the waters to gauge how the relationship could pan out post-agreement. Part of this is finding out what you can about preferred ways of working. Whether your business or the agency's have any usual processes you'd like to adhere, and how flexible they are with those.

Depending on your priorities identified in Step 1, you might want to ask about day-to-day things like: frequency of reporting/meetings, preferred communication channels, etc.

It's also worth asking where you would sit as a client to them. Whether you'd be their biggest customer and therefore top of the food chain, at the bottom of a long list of clients, or somewhere in the middle.

(There's no wrong or right here; only what works for you. This hinges on your non-negotiables outlined right at the start. If a top priority for you is guaranteed attention, top-level service, and constant availability, then paying top dollar to be the agency's number 1 client is what that may take. If budgets are a big constraint, but you still want to tap into the agency's resources, then the reality of your work being at the back of the queue may be part of the deal).


This series of articles is written by the Bloom team to help save both agencies and clients a lot of headaches when things don't go quite to plan.

If you're looking to work with an agency and you'd like to see if Bloom is a good fit, then book a call or get in touch here.

Bloom is an award-winning brand marketing agency for high-growth tech scale-ups. Our work has been featured in the likes of The Independent, Sifted, and Startups Magazine, with clients listed in the UK's Top 5 Startups of the country. Book a call or get in touch here to find out what makes Bloom the tech industry's favourite agency.

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