The Gist Of It

For best results, bring in the agency as part of your team, whenever possible and however appropriate, so that they can act as good stewards of your business, with similar context and information that you hold and often take for granted. An agency who wants to know, who strives to know, who wants to be the equal partner and elated, motivated steward of your business – that's when you know.

How To Choose

Agencies – love them, hate them, can't do without them?

Many marketers have been burned by agencies before. When it comes to web design and development, we've seen so many "beautiful disasters" –- brochureware that looks gorgeous but is either technically unmaintainable, unreliable in terms of meeting business KPIs and desired results, or both. When it comes to digital marketing, we've seen luscious email campaigns and landing pages that just don't convert, and fabulous websites that bring in minimal traffic.

As a marketer, you may love gorgeous things (we do, too!) but at the end of the day your management team (should) care about results, data, KPIs, ROI, long-term cost of investment....hard numbers.

Is it possible to find an agency that can handle the creative and beautiful along with the data and KPIs your management cares about? Yes, albeit difficult.

The ideal agency is data-driven, strategic, and actively aware of and considering your business goals and KPIs. This helps you – and your business or organization – succeed.

For best results, bring in the agency as part of your team, whenever possible and however appropriate, so that they can act as good stewards of your business, gaining more of the business context and insight that you hold. An agency who wants to know, who strives to know, who wants to be a true partner, an extension of your team – that's a really good sign. 

Choosing An "Un-Agency" May Be Your Best Bet

At O8 we consider ourselves an "un-agency." The word "agency" has so much baggage that we intentionally do not have. If there were a word for "a business that enhances and extends your marketing team" in common vocabulary, we would use that word! But alas, we're stuck describing ourselves the best we can, and telling our stories.

Here are some of the points that make us unique as an un-agency, and why companies should think about hiring us rather than individual developers or other traditional agencies:

  • Marketers should not manage developers.
    • It leads to major frustration and burnout, often because they speak completely different languages. ​
    • Your time is better spent elsewhere in your company. ​​​
    • We have the technical infrastructure to: 
      • Make developers happy
      • Hire and retain the best developers (we generally retain for at least 5 years), so your project context stays with the same team.
      • These same people will be around to support the next evolution of your website and digital marketing efforts.
         
  • You would have to hire a team of at least 11 people to have even close to the experience that an agency like ours brings:
    • Chief Technical Strategist
    • Technical PM (to manage the development team)
    • Lead Technical Architect
    • Front-end Developer
    • Back-end Developer
    • User Experience Designer
    • Designer (who is technical enough to design for B2B websites)
    • CRM Specialist/Integrator
    • Lead Marketing Strategist
    • CRO expert
    • SEO and Analytics expert
    • Business Analyst
       
  • Even if you hired those 10 people, you might not get it right:
    • In the last 10 years, we have truly hired an all-star team.
    • However, it took several hard lessons and several years before we had the right hiring formula. 
       
  • With a company like ours, you get the strategy piece, as well as the marketing piece on top of strong technical foundations:
    • We recommend in-person strategy meetings, generally every 2 or 3 months. 
    • For example, one of our clients wants to do personalization this year. Our input was critical because personalization, while a marketing concept, is also a highly technical concept that needs to integrate tightly with their website. They needed our technical minds at the table on this business-critical decision.
      • This same client also routinely has SEO issues and emergencies, A/B testing questions, mini redesigns and design refreshes, menu adjustments, the acquisition of new brands and product lines, and other marketing-related issues that we can easily jump into because we are a marketing agency (that happens to have a strong technical foundation.)
         
  • Further examples:
    • The mini case-studies here explain specific situations with real stories from the trenches. 

In Conclusion

Of course, I'm biased, but I really do think we have something special here at O8. If you find an agency that's closer to you who mirrors a good amount of these traits, by all means, give them a try!

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