Dune7's founding team has spent as much time client-side as they have in the agency world, which provides a unique perspective of the client-agency relationship. We wanted to uncover some of the "gray underbelly" of the marketing agency selection process, which sometimes results in a soured relationship from the very start.
A “good” agency should be transparent from the very first conversation through to the delivery of the final product or services. Clients should be equally forthcoming and view their agency as true marketing partners; not just another “vendor” to manage.
An agency that eschews transparency or obfuscates its weaknesses in an attempt to win business is only setting itself, and the client, up for irreparable harm later down the line.
On the flip side, agencies and clients that align their incentives from the initial kick-off meeting can create a truly symbiotic relationship that achieves success, as measured by clear and accountable KPIs.
Here are five things your agency might not be totally upfront about:
1. We handle all production in house
Whether it be copywriting, design, or video production, lots of agencies rely on skilled freelancers to fulfill a portion of a scope of work. But fewer are upfront about this practice which leads the client to believe that all work is done “in-house.”
At Dune7, we’re transparent in that we boast a freelance talent database of over 150 technical writers, creatives, producers, and SEO specialists. We custom-build teams for clients and work to ensure they’re a perfect fit for the project.
Utilizing freelancers allows access to some of the most specialized talent worldwide. At Dune7, we have worked with and hand-picked our entire talent network and have the results to back up their success.
The freelancers we work with are much more than just outsourced assets. They learn our clients’ businesses inside and out and participate in calls. Many are client-facing. Utilizing specialist freelancers not only allows for a tighter talent/project fit - but helps keep costs down, which benefits all parties.
2. We’re a “full service” agency
Unless you’re dealing with a massive agency, with massive fees, chances are that they can’t be experts at everything. Every agency has capabilities they are better at than others. For example, some agencies say they are “full service digital” but really focus on performance marketing and fall short in areas like SEO.
Dune7 doesn’t pretend to be full service. We know we’re really good at a few things and happily leave other areas to subject matter experts.
When vetting an agency, it’s important to ask specific questions about the channels most important for driving growth for your brand. Investigate the agency’s processes and methodologies, which get at the “how” versus only the “what.”
3. We don’t use AI for creative
Today, you can assume that almost every agency is utilizing AI in some form.
Even creative agencies are now using AI for print production. With the introduction of Generative Fill to Adobe Photoshop - generative AI capabilities are being brought directly into design workflows. Software such as Adobe Firefly can save both agencies and brands both money and time. This could be in the form of foregoing on-location shoots as Firefly can generate professional-quality content without copyright infringement.
At Dune7, we’re keeping the conversation open around how we leverage AI to improve the work we produce for clients. We work with our teams to create production playbooks that bring efficiencies and cost savings. But the quality of the work is always the number one priority which means it’s never void of human touch.
When it comes to content production, some agencies gloss over the fact that they incorporate AI into their processes while others use AI in detrimental ways. The last thing a client needs is an agency that uses tools like ChatGPT to create vanilla, uninspiring content or uses the same prompts to create stale content across multiple client accounts.
4. We’re experts on your business
Just like how agencies can’t specialize in everything, they also can’t be expected to be experts in every client vertical. Agencies take on clients that fall into a variety of different industries, and while this may look good on a portfolio page, it results in a substantial, and potentially expensive, learning curve.
Our founders come from a travel and technology background with over 30+ years of combined experience. We know what it’s like to be both the client and the agency and what it takes to succeed because we’ve been there. Our knowledge base spans both b2b SaaS and consumer travel and we remain laser-focused on supporting solely travel and travel tech clients.
Our subject matter expertise means less time onboarding and more time building.
5. We guarantee results
Some agencies tend to over-promise and underdeliver. While KPIs and project goals should be aligned from the start, it’s irresponsible for any agency to guarantee results. There are too many variables that can interfere with accurately predicting results before a project has begun or a campaign has gone to market.
At Dune7, we set realistic expectations and targets with clients. We also create dashboards that let clients gain additional visibility into how their campaigns are performing in real time.
We don’t guarantee rankings or traffic on the SEO side and don’t guarantee media pickups or links for PR. What we do guarantee though is that we will do everything in our power to get results.