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The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Choosing an Agency – An Action Plan

  • Date Published
  • Categories Blog
  • Reading Time 8-Minute Read

Below we’ll show you how we help people like you find an agency. Of course, if you’re ready to go right now, you can go straight to posting your project on TDA right now and start receiving pitches from the world’s top digital agencies today.

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Choosing an Agency - HeaderEntrepreneurs are a rare breed. When people say you can’t do something, you go for it anyway. When people say you’ll never find your market or compete with the big boys, it just makes you fight harder. Your willingness to defy “conventional” wisdom is a large part of what makes you special.

Your tenacity is what got you this far. And now that it’s time to hire some external resources to help you grow your business, you’re not looking for the same old “best practices” and “traditional” advice on how to get that help. When it comes to hiring an agency, you don’t need a thought process, you need an action plan so you can:

  1. find agencies,
  2. pick the best one, and
  3. get stuff done.

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Get Smart

Today’s entrepreneurs know that the path to success is guided by data. In the digital age, entrepreneurship has changed. No longer are entrepreneurs going with their guts, making important business decisions based on feel.

Today’s business leaders are building their companies by making informed choices. That goes for everything from choosing an industry to choosing your office furniture.

Yet, when it comes to choosing an agency to create crucial aspects of your business, too often entrepreneurs see no option but to use a 20th-century system for outfitting their 21st-century businesses with a website, an app, social media, etc. Far too often, entrepreneurs rely on their networks to find an agency to provide digital services. Then, instead of choosing from the best options, they choose agencies from the most accessible options, irrespective of quality.

This seems inevitable but with the amount of information available online and the number of agencies available, there is no reason to keep doing things the old-fashioned way. With a smart plan and a little research, you can make well-informed choices to get the best agency work that money can buy.

A Simple Plan for Choosing an Agency

1. Collect Your Stakeholders

Before you take any steps towards hiring an agency, you should clearly define who will have a say in the choice. Why? Because people tend to think that working with an agency is fun and cool.

Most people’s idea of what an agency is like comes from TV and movies. When you say the word “agency” many people picture Don Draper from Mad Men and think oh that sounds cool. The next thing you know Steve, your bookkeeper, thinks he has a say in choosing the right web design agency for your company and is pitching his ideas for your homepage redesign.

Avoid this trap, decide who is going to be involved in choosing your agency and include that person (or those people) in every step along the way. Whose opinions will you consider when choosing your agency? If you are the leader of the company, you do not need to include anyone else. You can make a unilateral decision. On the flip side, you may want to hear other people’s thoughts on the agencies you are considering. If someone on your team will be working directly with the agency you pick, then you will probably want to include them in the choice of agencies.

Ultimately, who is involved in choosing an agency is up to you. But whichever path you take, don’t skip this step. Let everyone know you are choosing an agency and let the team know their roles in making the decision at the beginning of the process.

2 Write Your Brief

The first thing to do when choosing an agency is to draft a strong project brief. A well-crafted brief efficiently expresses your objectives for your project and how it serves your business goals.

Writing a brief gives you something to put out and something for agencies to respond to when you’re hiring, so you don’t waste time explaining what you’re trying to do over and over again. Plus, by committing your plans to paper, you’ll spot potential problems earlier.

See a Sample Project Brief

A brief also becomes a useful tool down the line, when you are in the middle of a project because it gives you and your agency a reference for determining how effective you are. The brief becomes a North Star for your project, giving you something against which you can track your progress and help you prioritize tasks.

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3. Gather Your Potential Agency List

Armed with a project brief it’s time you reach out to your potential agencies. At this stage, stay open-minded and consider the options for your project. To do that, you’ll want to get the word out that you’ve got a project so that agencies can respond to your project.

This step can be tricky. How do you get your project brief in front of the right people? That’s one of the reasons entrepreneurs use TDA to find agencies. Posting a project on TDA makes putting your project out to agencies easy. Once you get your project out to agencies, you’ll be ready to receive and review their applications.

4. Evaluate Your Shortlist

Once you’ve collected applications, you’ll want to go back to your decision-making team, review your brief and evaluate the agency applications. It can be difficult to objectively assess agency applications but choosing an agency based on something as hard to define as “fit” doesn’t work either. Of course, you want an agency that you work well with but beware of choosing the most “likable” agency over the best one for the job.

How do you objectively score agencies? We recommend having each of your decision-makers separately evaluate agencies on the following factors:

  • Experience
    Rate the agency’s previous experience working on projects similar to yours.
  • Case Studies/Examples
    Rate the results/outcomes from the agency’s previous projects similar to yours.
  • Knowledge of the Topic
    Rate the agency’s mastery of the concepts necessary to carry out the proposed project.
  • Communication
    Rate the agency’s written communication and application documents.
  • Budget/Pricing
    Rate the agency’s proposed budget.

We suggest using a simple scoring system to rate the agencies and totaling up the scores from all of the stakeholders to reach a consensus. Here’s a simple spreadsheet that will help you keep track of the scores and make your choice.

Download a Sample Agency Evaluation Worksheet (.xlsx file)

5. Hire Your Agency

The last step is simple, right? You contact your chosen agency and get to work. In a perfect world, it would be that easy. However, the client’s and agency’s schedules, budgets, and other important details don’t always align. Aligning yourselves will be the next step and a good agency will work with you to assess your problem (what’s laid out in the brief) and goals.

Start on the right foot by working with your agency to resolve any discrepancies between your project and their approach to the work. Once you’ve landed on your strategic plan your agency can get to work on execution and you can relax with the knowledge that you’ve created an environment for them to succeed. After all, their success in working on your project is your company’s success.

Finding an Agency With TDA

Using TDA is quick and easy. Companies fill in information about what they need and then wait for digital agencies to apply to them. Our system notifies digital agencies about the project and they apply directly to the company on TDA in a standardized format. After reviewing agency applications, companies can choose an agency to work with.

Does TDA Take Commissions?

We are a matchmaking site. This means we don’t get in the middle of communications, work or payments between companies and digital agencies. It also means that we don’t take any commissions. We exist solely to help companies find the best digital agencies in the world and to help those digital agencies showcase their services.

TDA by the Numbers

TDA was founded in 2018. In less than 12 months, over $43 million of projects had been placed on the platform. We have a network of over 5,000 digital agencies in 115 countries. We have won startup competitions, were the fastest ever financing round on a global equity crowdfunding platform and the very first investment of a leading venture capital fund. In February 2019 and again in February 2020, Startup Grind Silicon Valley named us a Top 50 Global Startup.

Register your company today to get started.