Since acquiring Imaginuity 15 years ago, we have had the good fortune to consistently do great work for great clients. The companies and organizations who engage us do so for a number of reasons. Many love our award-winning body of work and recognize us as one of the nation’s best independent digital agencies. Some want to leverage our extensive digital experience and are confident in our ability to deliver results. While still others understand that having a digital agency partner who has strategy, creative and technology all in-house is key to the success of their digital projects.
There is also another, far more painful reason. Year after year, we are approached by prospective clients (company CMO’s and senior marketing executives alike) who are in crisis mode. They find themselves in a very uncomfortable position no marketing professional wants to face. Their company’s digital marketing initiatives and website project have gone off the rails and they are in danger of missing critical launch dates, going over budget, not achieving company goals or objectives and worse, they may even face losing their job. In many of these cases, projects fail to be completed at all.
The reasons for this troublesome trend are many, but can be boiled down to several central issues.
The agency partner may not fully understand the technology requirements of the project (or may not have the right resources in place to handle them) so functionality, IA and UX are off track from the onset and the agency can’t right the ship.
In a closely related scenario, the project is done in a black box. The agency partner does not fully document project requirements (i.e. business and technical requirements) and the original scope of work does not define the documentation process, the number of rounds of revisions, and client sign off at each stage of the project. Consequently, site maps, wireframes and other crucial technical documents are not properly presented to, or approved by the client, which can only lead to disaster.
Projects may also go unfinished because an agency partner, in their eagerness to win an assignment, over-promises in both terms of resources and experience. It is only after the fact that the client discovers the agency may not have the necessary staff or experience to handle the project.
Additionally, outsourcing of technology may also lead to trouble. When an agency partner that lacks a crucial technical expertise, outsources a key project component they don’t fully understand themselves, chance are substandard work will result.
Finally, in today’s competitive marketing world where we see “digital agencies” pop up all over the place, many of these shops simply can’t build a sustainable business model and go out of business right in the middle of a project.
Case in point, earlier this year the CMO of a major Dallas-based retail brand came to us with a project that was in dire straits. After having spent an entire year and well over $100,000 on the project – for many of the reasons listed above – they were no closer to launching their new site then they were when the project started.
So, what can you do to avoid this scenario and protect your company’s most prized digital asset? It all starts with selecting the right digital agency.
Over the next four weeks, I will present five key elements to closely consider when choosing a digital agency partner – longevity, size, technology resources, walking the walk, and price. Giving each of these areas their due should help you engage the best agency partner for your digital needs, while helping you avoid the pain our CMO friend, and many others, have had to endure.
At the end of the day, we love to see our friends, neighbors and business associates complete and enjoy successful projects – even when from time-to-time they don’t choose Imaginuity. What we hope to accomplish with this series of posts is to help you create a process for selecting a digital agency that will enhance your company’s digital presence and deliver measurable results.