There are many reasons why companies can benefit from working with a digital consulting company or external agency. Startups want to get off on the right foot, larger companies want to make sure they’re on the forefront of emerging technology, struggling companies are ready to embrace something entirely new… The list goes on.
Here’s a secret, though: not all agencies are equal. While the quality and performance of the agency plays a big role in success, you as a business owner can also influence the results. Want to make the most of your time working with a digital consultant? Make sure you’re not falling into any of these traps:
1. Not having a clear idea of what you want for your business
The world of digital can be overwhelming. From establishing an online marketing strategy to using data to improve sales, it seems like there are so many ways to harness the impact of technology and digital marketing. Which approach is right for you? Do you really need an app? A social media presence? A website overhaul? While you might not know the answer to these questions at the start – after all, it’s the digital consulting company’s job to help you assess things like this – there are some things you should know.
Being clear about your company’s objectives goes a long way to making your experience with an agency smoother and more results-oriented. After all, there’s a reason you reached out to them and there’s a reason you’re considering changing your approach to digital, right? Ask yourself – and your team – why that is.
Is it that you want to reach a broader – or completely different – market? Increase conversions based on your website traffic? Start selling your products and services digitally? Make your client’s lives easier with technology? If you can assess what success will look like after working with a digital consulting company, you’ll be in a much better position to get there.
2. Not maximizing collaboration
Try not to think about an agency as being an external source that swoops in, overhauls an aspect of your strategy and swoops out again.
A quality digital consulting company will want to learn the ins and outs of your business, including your company values, strengths, weaknesses and goals for the future.
Don’t underestimate the impact of involving your team either. Chances are, pretty much every department will be affected by the changes you make to your digital strategy, so it makes sense to have them be part of the process, ask questions and see firsthand how new tools or strategies will shape their roles.
Your team members may also offer valuable first-hand insight when it comes to the challenges or goals of certain departments. Having them be part of meetings with your consulting company can be a great idea and might even help your consultants form a fuller, more holistic plan for your new strategy.
3. Not interviewing the company beforehand
There’s a lot of agencies and consultants floating around out there and they might not all work for you and your needs.
Testing or interviewing a few different companies might seem like something you just don’t have time for, but it can also mean the difference between a successful and a disastrous experience; the latter of which could cost you even more time repairing damage.
Test them out by asking some simple questions. See if they’ve worked with clients in similar industries or worked on projects of similar scopes. A company specializing in lean startups may not have the resources to handle a large-scale enterprise’s goals, while a company specializing in established corporations might not understand a startup’s lean budgets or preference for open-source technology. If you are looking for a web development firm, find out what languages, platforms and frameworks they specialize in.
Be sure to also ask them about their approach. Do they work remotely and communicate by email or Skype only? Do they prefer to come in and work on-site? Make sure their preference is something you’re comfortable with. There’s no wrong or right way to approach a consulting relationship, but at the end of the day you have to make sure the approach works for you and your team.