What Should you Look for When Choosing a Marketing Agency?

I sat down with Cyril Lemaire, Managing Partner at Traktek Partners to learn more about what companies should be looking for when they are in the process of selecting a marketing agency. A veteran in the tourism and advertising industry, Cyril started Traktek Partners in 2008. After working at large agencies specializing in travel and hospitality, such as EF Education, Grand Circle Travel, Havas Advertising and Digitas, he came to the conclusion that starting his own business was a great avenue to take where he could combine both his passion and experience.

What advice do you have for clients that are looking for a new marketing agency?

First, in order for a marketing agency to be successful, the agency needs to understand your business objectives and all of the different components in the marketing plan. It’s important to be transparent with the various aspects of your business including challenges and limitations in technology infrastructure or potential changes to your brand. This allows us to come up with innovative marketing ideas and establish proper personalized follow up communications with your various target audiences.

Second, involve all stakeholders in key stages of the decisioning process. By including members of the Sales team, Technology team, Corporate Communications, and Finance teams, all team members can have a voice at the table in order for the agency teams to develop a proposal that meets of all involved. We often recommend establishing a small steering committee and establishing clear evaluation criteria to ensure all stakeholders are aligned.

Lastly, cultural fit is key. You can find talented designers and developers anywhere. However, an agency that understands your brand attributes, organizational culture, and that can flex up or down based on your needs is what will ultimately generate business results and incremental improvements in ROI.

What mistakes have you seen companies make when choosing a marketing agency?

The most common mistake we see is not having a clear set of goals and prioritized performance metrics to hold their agency accountable to. In these scenarios, the quantity of internal resources and financial investment it takes to generate awareness and capture market share in large markets such as the North American Market are often under-estimated. Companies will sometimes set aggressive goals without having a realization that their internal infrastructure needs to be put in place to 1) ensure proper follow up communications 2) maximize site traffic and sales conversions and 3) ultimately build loyalty and social excitement for the brand.

How can companies have a successful agency search experience?

In the advertising industry, there are search marketing consultants that help clients define requirements around what their looking for in an agency and then find a suitable short list of potential agency partners. They go through an agency selection process to interview who would be the best strategic marketing and advertising partner and overall best fit. Despite the fact that these consulting agencies charge a premium for their services, they are very useful to help companies that have multiple decision makers, stakeholders, and organizational politics.

What does a “great match” between an agency and a client look like?

This is all dependent on good transparent open communications between the strategic leads, account leads and clients. One of our agency’s core principles is always being accessible for clients and fellow team members to discuss strategic marketing opportunities or campaign specific matters. Additionally, it’s important to have clear operating procedures that include weekly meetings, quarterly strategic reviews and planning sessions, and ongoing collaboration on testing and improvement strategies. These are all important factors for the marketing campaign to improve and maximize return on investment.

Since you are in the tourism industry, what is your favorite place to travel to?

I’d have to say Tenerife, in the Spanish Canary Islands. It’s one of those places that should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you haven’t heard of it and you love exploring new and unique places, don’t look any further. Tenerife isn’t your typical island destination and has something for everyone. It’s a place where you can picture yourself in multiple places around the globe – without even stepping off the island. Picture this: the volcanic landscapes, boardwalks and resorts of Maui, combined with the food, wine, port and Spanish colonial architecture of Barcelona, and the white/black sand beaches and nature reserves of Costa Rica – all on one island.

How do you balance work and home life?

Well first off, my team members make it all possible. Especially, Jennifer Phillips, Traktek’s VP of Marketing and Client Services as she manages our clients’ priorities across our Creative, Technology, and Media teams and making sure our clients’ priorities are being taken care of. I also limit my commute, make my day as productive as possible, and periodically take extended weekend trips with my wife and daughters to share travel experiences and spend time with the family.