Marketing managers at financial services firms are a busy and over-worked bunch. This is why the idea of working with a financial advertising agency is so attractive. But how can you be sure your firm selects the right agency? We've given it some thought, so let's get right down to it. Here are five things to look for in a financial advertising agency.
Satisfied customers. This is pretty obvious, but worth mentioning nonetheless. Does the agency's site include testimonials from satisfied customers? Better yet, do these customers remind you of your firm? (After all, if you are a small community bank, the fact that, say, Wells Fargo is a client may not be that important.)
A plan for a ROI. You're a bank so of course you understand that your investment should generate returns. What does the agency charge a small financial client and what does the client get in return? And most importantly, how will you measure success in good old-fashioned dollars and cents?
Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities. Failure to articulate who does what is oftentimes the number one reason relationships with agencies break down. On the surface, it seems simple: The client, for example, posts on Facebook while the agency markets the content. But too often the lines blur. Therefore, when talking to an agency be sure to ask about their vision for the relationship. What roles will you, the client, assume? How will these roles be embedded across your team? How will the editorial process work? How will the agency handle compliance issues or an unfortunate social media fiasco? Click here for more guidance on establishing social media agency/client roles and responsibilities.
Technical acumen. A core competency of any financial advertising agency will be their ability to quickly adapt to changes in the marketplace. Examples include Twitter's Promoted Tweets, LinkedIn's Showcase pages, changes to Google's search algorithm, and so on. The client company, the logic goes, can't keep up with them all, and so they outsource the work to a third party. At the same time, however, most client companies are perfectly adept at posting on Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. The question, therefore, is what technical acumen and social media expertise does the agency bring to the table such that a relationship will deliver value to the client company?
An integrated approach. It's easy to get swept up by the promise and excitement of inbound marketing techniques. However, outbound approaches — print and TV advertising most prominently — remain very much alive and relevant. Ask the agency about their inbound and outbound services and more importantly, to what extent these approaches are integrated. (Click here for tips on how to create a healthy inbound/outbound balance.)
Now we'd like your feedback. Does your firm work with a financial advertising agency? What roles are outsourced? How do you measure the effectiveness of this relationship?