How important is it to work with an agency in your city?
To some extent, working with a local agency is a personal preference. Obviously with technology where it is and the existence of web conferencing, screen sharing, and other collaborative tools, it’s by no means a given that working with an agency near you is a requirement. Indeed, with many agencies embracing a distributed workforce model, the concept of an agency not having a local presence at all isn’t unusual.
There are benefits to working with either a local or remote marketing agency. Below, I've outlined a few things to think about when deciding whether you want to work with an agency in your city or not.
Chemistry: In evaluating agencies, I believe the first and most important questions you need to answer for yourself are“Will I enjoy working with this team?” and “Do I trust them?” In my opinion, there’s no substitute for a face-to-face meeting to determine if the agency is a good chemistry fit.
Uh oh, something’s gone wrong: Not all projects go perfectly all the time. In fact there’s data to suggest that over 60%+ of software development projects are either ‘challenged’ or ‘failed.’ (VIEW SOURCE). In my experience, being able to get the agency and client teams together is a great tool to have at your disposal in overcoming obstacles and difficulties.
Personal references & reputation: If you and the agency are in the same area, it’s more likely you can speak to someone you know who has worked with the agency. You’re also more likely to have a sense of their reputation.
Talent pool: Looking beyond your own neighborhood opens up access to a wider variety of talent. It’s possible there just aren’t any agencies in your area that meet your quality requirements. However, hiring the most talented agency you can find may come with significant increased agency fees.
Costs: Instead of going out of market to gain access to better talent, you may be looking for a combination of quality and cost that just doesn’t exist in your market. This could be a reasonable consideration if you’re based in an expensive city with expensive agencies. The cost savings from going offshore can be immense but comes with its own set of dangers. A recent study found less than 5% of software engineer graduates in India meet the minimum requirements for any programming jobs at all. (VIEW SOURCE) (VIEW SOURCE)
Niche: If you have a very specific need, you may have to go out of market or roll the dice and hope that a local agency can get up to speed quickly. I discuss whether or not it makes sense to hire an agency that specializes in your industry in a later section.
Whether you work with an agency headquartered in your city or not depends on the needs of your organization or project. It's certainly possible to get great work from an agency in a distant city, but there's something to be said for being able to get together and unravel any project snarls in person.
Excerpted from Pitching a Fit: A Guide for Choosing the Right Marketing Agency by Chris Olberding.
Chris Olberding is a mediocre ukulele player who owns more Funko Pop figures than any grown man should. In spite of this, he has run a successful agency for the past 10 years by providing creative vision and strategic guidance to the S4 team. Chris has been recognized as one of Jacksonville Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and S4 has been named to the Gator 100, a list of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or run by a UF alumni, for the last two years.