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  • Ruth Napier

Top 10 questions to ask prospective marketing agencies

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

When your aim is to select the best agency, you need to find one that will best deliver the work and work well with your firm. It may not be the one with the smartest pitch deck or the slickest sales person. So what should you do to improve the odds of picking a winner?

The interview is an ideal time to ask open questions of your shortlisted agencies, if you haven't had the opportunity to do so beforehand. A good agency will also want to use the interview to find out more about you.

I always plan ahead for these interviews so here are 10 of the key questions I use when meeting with prospective suppliers.

1. How familiar are you with our industry sector/niche?

  • This gives them the opportunity to talk about how well they understand your part of the market and typical challenges of a business like yours.

  • For suppliers with little or no experience in your industry look for their ability to leverage out-of-sector expertise/ techniques and a willingness to invest their own time in building sector knowledge.

2. What experience have you had with clients on a similar project?

  • You are looking for repeatable expertise and a good track record.

  • Always ask how recent the experience has been and whether it involved the same people who will be working on your account.

3. What's unique about your company and proposal?

  • They should know what their USP is and be able to share it in an easy to understand 'elevator' pitch.

  • Check their USP against the criteria that are most important to your business. Its not always about price.

4. What do you think about our current [subject of the brief/RFP]?

  • Look for a balanced opinion including pluses and minuses.

5. How will you kick off and manage the project/ongoing work?

  • Look for a tried and tested process, with clear steps and deliverables, customised to your requirements.

  • Find out how much time and resource is required from your side.

6. What are the biggest challenges to achieving success/reaching our goals based on your past experiences with similar projects/work?

Gives the agency the opening to :

  • highlight any risks or dependencies you may not be aware of

  • discuss how realistic your goals/timeline are and propose alternatives

  • ask further questions around the brief.

7. How do you handle conflicts of interest?

  • Agencies take varying approaches. Look for a clear rationale and process around managing multiple clients.

  • If the agency has a number of clients in your sector, find out how they will keep your project/work confidential.

  • If you operate a ‘no direct competitor’ principle, define the boundaries and ask that any potential client conflicts are run past you.

8. What is the makeup of the team that will work on our account?

  • Find out their role, how long have they worked with the agency and what experience they have.

  • Always ask to be introduced to/meet all the team before you sign the contract.

9. What happens if we are dissatisfied with the output/results/process or have a complaint?

  • Ensure you know who takes responsibility and how to raise concerns.

  • Clarify how it is managed contractually.

10. Who is your biggest competitor and why shouldn't we use them?

  • Another chance for them to tell you why they are the right fit for the job.

Bonus question useful to ask at the end of the interview:

Is there anything we haven't asked that you would normally expect to answer at this stage?

  • A useful catch all in case anything has been missed. And the only closed question on this blog post.

What question would you have top of your list?

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