qualities of a digital agency

5 Qualities of a Top Notch Digital Agency

So you’ve got a marketing project or initiative that you need to launch, but you know you cannot execute it on your own. You start searching the internet and making inquiries to your trusted contacts, looking for the right company to help. But how do you navigate through the vast landscape of capable agencies? How do you find the one that is right for your organization and its goals? In this post, I will share the top 5 qualities to look for if you want to choose a top notch agency and have a successful project.


Some of you may think, why should an agency’s internal culture be a concern for me? The answer is that you want to be sure the agency is providing a place that will continue to flourish and that it will continue to retain and attract talent in the future. You want to build a lasting partnership with the agency, and therefore you want to be sure the agency will be around in the future. Also, it is scientifically proven that happy workers are more productive and engaged, and obviously those are the type of people you want working on your project.

Team Dynamics

When working with an agency, you will undoubtedly be interfacing with sales people, account managers, and project managers, but I suggest you also try to understand as much as you can about the dynamics of the team that will be producing the tangible solution or end product. Questions to ask when considering team dynamics are:
  • What is the overall size of the company?
  • What is the ratio of the people who produce the work versus those that manage the work?
  • Are their teams are in-house or distributed across multiple geographical locations?
  • Are they going to outsource the work to another onshore or offshore vendor?

digital business laptopThe answers to these questions should not dictate whether or not the agency can deliver a successful project, however the  devil is in the details. Make sure you understand how the company structure will work to support your solution and what risks there are, if any.digital business laptop You can also do some research at the individual level once you understand who the people that will be producing your solution are. Again, in today’s social world, no one can hide, and you can quickly look at platforms like LinkedIn to get a sense of who these people are and what integrity they have as individuals. You can also see if they are active in their fields by looking for things like blog posts, personal recognition, speaking engagements, etc. Knowing you will have a passionate and credible team working your project should make you feel better about the chances of success. 


An agency’s maturity is another important factor to consider. By maturity, I am talking about how long they have been in business and if they have shown growth over the years. These are telling factors into whether or not the agency has it all together and has already gone through the tough early learning phases of small business life. Just to be clear, this does not mean that a new startup agency cannot be a great fit for your project. Some new agencies are started by trusted experts who learned the ropes from their days working at prior agencies. Maturity is just another point to consider along with weighing the risks of choosing a company that has yet to prove itself. 


business tiesAn agency’s integrity is defined by multiple factors. The quality of the work they produce, the demeanor in how they operate, the list of clients who have trusted them in the past, vendors who have entered partnerships with them and more. You should investigate and look closely at each of these areas to determine whether or not this agency is someone you can trust to deliver success. 

I will say that integrity is the sum of all parts and not about the one that shines the brightest. A company may produce top quality work and have an excellent demeanor but not have the elite client list or any partnerships. This situation might not be a bad thing as there could be a reason behind it. Ask questions and be diligent when calculating an agency’s integrity and determining if they are right for you. 

Trusted Advisor or Task Completer?

I believe it is always in your best interest to find a partner for the long haul. This type of relationship is built through an agency that you can trust to guide you to success versus a company that is only seeking to complete one task or project, and then move on. One key way to identify this in your vetting process is to analyze the questions they ask. For instance, when you bring a project need to a company, the company with a “task completer” mindset will assume you have already figured out exactly what you need. They will focus mainly on understanding the solution you have defined in an effort just to estimate and complete the project. Whereas, a company that takes a “trusted advisor” mindset will usually start the conversation by questioning “why” you believe you have defined the right solution to your problem. Asking “why” is not a sign of resistance or disbelief, moreover it is a desire truly to understand the business problem you need to solve and ensure the proposed solution is in fact precisely what you need. business hand shakeA trusted advisor will not be afraid to speak up and state that what you as the customer thinks will solve the problem may not be the best solution and that there is a better solution available.

business hand shakeAnother way to explain this concept is that a company that is a trusted advisor will show genuine interest in your success. Whereas a company that is a “task completer” is more concerned with just getting the job and getting paid. The latter of the two comes with a significant risk as the solution will almost always be short sighted. You may ask a “task completer” if they can build a website for you. And then once they build it, you will, in fact, have a website, but it likely will not meet your overall objectives. For example, users find the site hard to use, search engines cannot find it, the performance of the site is lackluster, etc. Did they complete the task to build a website? Yes. Did they help you achieve success and solve the business problem? Most likely not. 

Weigh and consider these five qualities heavily when looking at hiring a digital agency, and you will more than likely find one a trusted partner for your projects no matter the size or length.
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Michael T. Whalen, Director of Solution Delivery
Michael T. Whalen

Director of Solution Delivery

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