Specialist Marketing Agencies
For construction industry businesses seeking external marketing support, the selection of the right agency is essential to ensure the maximum exposure and investment return. There are several thousands of marketing agencies active in the UK, so selecting from those which have an understanding of construction can be advantageous, since they will already possess an appreciation of the industry's challenges, trends and opportunities, and have established contacts in the media. In addition, this knowledge should enable them to begin any campaign much faster than an agency without experience of the industry.
In order to assist our subscribers with the creation of a shortlist, we have identified around 80 agencies which either specialise in the construction industry or have an established track record of working for construction industry clients (to view or download the full index please scroll down to the end of this article).
Before appointing an agency, it is worthwhile selecting at least three and inviting each to tender for the account. An outline brief will need to be prepared in advance, clearly stating short-term requirements as well as the long-term objectives. When compiling the shortlist, consideration should also be given to the type of agency and services required relative to budget and, importantly, existing clients who may operate competitively within the same sector. Terms of appointment, remuneration and marketing expenditure limits should be agreed and confirmed at the outset. Given the high level of resources required on the part of each tendering agency, it might be worth offering a financial contribution towards the costs of the presentation, time and travel. This will not only demonstrate your own commitment to the project, but is also likely to further incentivise each agency.
In his article, published via RIBA Insight, David Ing elaborates on the following nine points to consider/questions to ask when selecting an agency, the headings of which are:
1. Services offered. Does the agency offer the services you need?
2. Approach to service delivery. What level of service do you require?
3. Proactive or reactive? Do you want an agency that responds to your brief or do you want an agency that drives your marketing with you?
4. Personality/fit. Can you work with the agency?
5. Integration with your company. How closely do you want your agency to work with you and how closely do they want to work with you?
6. Capacity and skills set and account management. What capacity does the agency have? Are they able to field a team that is able to meet your particular demands? How do they structure their account management approach?
7. Conflicting interests.
8. Added value. Do they provide added value?
9. Contractual or non-contractual.
The full text for each of these points can be read in the full article here.
The agency Pauley Creative offers construction firms a tip for when they are drawing up the shortlist, suggesting that they consider contacting some of the media outlets who “work with a huge range of marketing professionals so can give an unbiased recommendation”. They also suggest:
1. Start with a ‘long list’ of potential partners for initial research. At this stage use the resource you already have around you to create a list of potentials. Checking industry blogs or websites, recent work or projects you’ve seen.
2. ‘Short list’ to 3/5 of the above to come in for an initial meeting and briefing on the requirements.
3. Ask for thoughts/recommendations back after the initial briefing meeting.
4. Bring back the 2/3 partners that you’d like to see again to work out the finer points of how you could potentially work together.
5. Check their credentials and, if possible, start with a trial project to see how you work together.
Full Service Agency?
Another factor to consider is whether to engage a full service agency to integrate all your marketing communications or use separate agencies/resources for advertising, PR, internet, design, etc. The specialist construction industry agency Publicity Services suggests that, amongst many other benefits, the engagement of a full service agency will facilitate clearer and more efficient communications, since there’s no need to manage several different marketing communications suppliers, to deliver the same brief more than once or to promote collaboration between different, potentially competing, suppliers. On their website, Publicity Services present a range of arguments for the full service approach, in the form of eleven bullet points which can be accessed here.
A further point which might be worth bearing in mind comes from another construction marketing agency, SLG Marketing, who suggest that "the other advantage of using a full-service agency is that the client is less likely to have one service 'pushed' upon them when another/others might be more appropriate".
In 2009, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising published the, very comprehensive, best practice guide entitled 'Finding an Agency'. The 95-page guide not only explores the selection process, but also looks, in some detail, at hand-over processes, maintaining the relationship, managing reviews, etc. The guide is available free of charge from the IPA website here.
There are a couple of books on the subject which may also be helpful: John Ward's Using and Choosing an Advertising Agency: An Insider's View and Choosing and Working with Your Advertising Agency by William M. Weilbacher.
For guidance on standard business practices adopted by communications agencies of all disciplines, the relevant trade bodies detailed below provide copies of ‘Model Contractual Terms‘. These bodies can also offer detailed advice on selecting and appointing marketing agencies:
Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7235 7020
Marketing Agencies Association
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7535 3550
Alternatively, clients may ‘contract out’ the selection of a marketing agency to a specialist consultant who will undertake to prepare a written brief and carry out the interviewing process, selection and negotiations, as required. The following companies offer such services:
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7612 1200
Agency Assessments International
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7321 3828
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3872 6322
The Haystack Group
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 819839
Index of 90+ Specialist Construction Marketing Agencies (if you are not logged in, you will see below only those companies who have enhanced their entries - log in to view the full list):