How many times in the past have you worked with an agency or firm to build your brand?
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you probably have never hired a firm, or did one time and had an experience that left you underserved and needing more.
Investing in your brand is no small spend, and thinking about which agency to choose and where to invest your time and money in is important to consider on the front end.
What if you engage with the wrong person or team to build your brand? Or pick a firm that focuses on vanity metrics but not sustainable growth measures? Or invest tens of thousands of dollars with no concrete measurable return? Or pick a firm that is in it for the paycheck to meet bottom line goals but doesn’t truly care about you as a person? The list goes on…
In reality, you don’t build a brand overnight, so doing your due diligence and thinking through all the necessary factors and what your expectations are in the beginning of this process is incredibly important.
Does the Firm Eat Their Own Dog food?
Does the firm selling you services have a brand themselves? Is what they are pitching you in the proposal actually something they have shown proven results for? It’s important to trust that the provider you’re considering has taken the time to understand how to do what they’re selling the right way, and does the same things themselves..
For instance, if you’re looking to develop thought leadership, how are the leaders at the company developing thought leadership themselves? If the firm is selling you a website, have they built other websites before or do they have a good website themselves? If the firm is selling you writing a newsletter, do they write a successful one themselves?
Ensuring that the firm you hire is not just doing what they’re selling, but learning alongside of you while integrating and updating better processes throughout the engagement is extremely important.
Does the Firm Have a Strategic Vision for their Own Brand?
Does the firm look at you and your potential from the ground up? Do they see what’s possible and see the path forward for you and then work backwards to get there?
It always amazes me how some people grow their brands for the wrong reasons. They chase vanity metrics, blue check marks, and big PR hits without understanding why and how the pieces all line up together.
When a firm is short term driven or just in it for a “launch” of a product, it’s easier to choose short term wins over long term sustainable results. Ask yourself before you get started, “Why am I trying to build a brand in the first place?” Is it to hit a best seller list or win an external award? Or is it to build a timeless mission that can be understood by the masses?
For those building a personal brand, it’s important to consider the strategies around owning your distribution; frequency posting on social platforms, tools and tactics to not only build your audience, but also connect with them to help them take action around your goals. It’s also important to ask, “How is all the content we are creating adding up in a way to achieve your goals?” And,“What are the other pieces to elevate my voice over time?
Is the firm non-dogmatic and flexible?
Just because a firm has a process and way of doing things that works, doesn’t mean they can’t help you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat. After all, it is your brand, and you should feel able to speak up and identify changes you want to see be made.
When you get a feel for the firm, ask yourself: do you think you can have a good working relationship? Are they flexible and open minded or rigid in their way? Are they able to empathize and see your points, while adapting to ensure you’re heard and valued.
This is a long term partnership when done right, and you want to ensure you’re making a decision that feels flexible, yet you’re able to trust the experts doing the job, to do it the right way while considering your thoughts and ideas in the process.
Is the firm Continually Learning from Their Clients?
How has the firm adapted from where it is today to how it was a year ago, two years ago, or five years ago? How are they learning best practices from other clients and adapting them to new clients? It’s important to ensure that the firm you’re considering is constantly getting better and improving and updating how they work with clients and evolving their processes.
For those building professional brands, ask them about their clients or how their work has evolved overtime to continually get better and better? Ask them what is different today versus when they started and how they’ve measured their own success of the product services they’re selling.
Does the Firm Track and Measure their Efforts?
Ask the firm, what is your reporting process? How do you measure success? Ask to see a report for a past client or understand how they evaluate their work on your behalf. And ask a firm what metrics they believe are important and why?
It’s important that a firm use data driven metrics around an overall strategy to measure success. If you don’t know where you’re going, then it’s hard to determine what to measure. That’s why being strategic in the plan and measuring around it is important to determine success.
For those building brands, understanding the metrics important at the beginning versus at the end is very important. For instance, if you’re just starting out building your brand and thought leadership, the metrics you measure at the beginning are going to be different than the metrics you measure if you’re already established – as there is more to measure and consider.
While you can never guarantee 100% probability of success, it is important to ask the hard questions on the front end to stack the deck in your favor for the most optimal outcome for building your brand.