How To Hire The Best Agency And Avoid Issues With Dave Rohrer


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Identifying The Right Agency

In an ideal scenario, it would be great if every problem your brand encountered could be effortlessly resolved internally. However, in reality, there will be situations where unexpected challenges arise, necessitating assistance from an agency.

Brands frequently seek the expertise of agencies, including ours, to address a wide range of issues such as securing deals, streamlining procedures, troubleshooting problems, and adapting to new methodologies. However, it is not uncommon for the relationship between the brand and agency to deteriorate and terminate before the initial purpose for hiring the agency is fully resolved. Recently, our CEO, Stacy Jones, engaged in a discussion with an expert, highlighting crucial considerations for brands prior to engaging an agency. In this blog, Hollywood Branded examines how to hire the best agency from the experience and expertise of North Side Metrics' Dave Rohrer.                

How To Hire The Best Agency And Avoid Potential Issues With Dave Rohrer

A Little Background On Dave

With over 20 years of experience in marketing and consulting, Dave has consistently demonstrated his ability to solve problems and drive revenue growth for companies of varying sizes, ranging from Retail 100 and Fortune 500 enterprises to small, local, and startup businesses.

Dave serves as a co-host for the Business of Digital Podcast and operates North Side Metrics, a digital agency based in Chicago. His expertise lies in leveraging metrics, KPIs, and data to formulate successful client strategies. Additionally, he possesses comprehensive knowledge in areas such as Site Architecture, Dynamic Sites, and Content Optimization.

Dave's expertise extends beyond his professional accomplishments, as he is internationally renowned as a speaker. He regularly imparts his valuable insights on digital marketing at prominent conferences, including PePcon Pro, Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, and the Craft Growers Conference.

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Transcript Highlights

Stacy: Could you tell me a little bit about your journey, how long you've been in your current profession, your background, where you started, and what led you to where you are today?

Dave: The chaos of my journey is the driving force behind where I am today. Initially, I started as a web developer, frustrated with marketing professionals who lacked an understanding of how the web functions and the intricacies of marketing and conversion strategies. This frustration led me to transition into the field of SEO.

For approximately 10 years, I worked as an in-house SEO specialist for SAS Solutions, publishers, and various small companies. Additionally, I have spent around a decade providing consulting services to numerous agencies in the North.

Chances are, everyone listening or shopping has likely patronized stores associated with the companies I've worked for, ranging from major retailers to leading tech manufacturers for household or automotive use. I have witnessed a wide spectrum of experiences, from collaborating with small, brilliant startup teams to working with large corporations where internal teams barely communicated, despite being located within the same building, sometimes just a few dozen feet apart. Surprisingly, even in recent years, such situations continue to occur. Hence, I have gained diverse experiences by working in various settings and undertaking a multitude of tasks.

Stacy: I'm eager to discuss topics related to why brands seek agencies, the challenges associated with initiating collaborations, the expectations and misconceptions they may have, and any other related aspects that you'd like to explore.

Dave: Often, brands hire agencies with the expectation that they will serve as a silver bullet, resolving all their creative, website, and brand-related issues. They prefer not to acknowledge potential problems with their product or customer service and instead view it as a marketing matter that can be fixed solely through marketing efforts. For instance, they might decide to revamp their website without seeking input from anyone else.

The decision to hire an agency is often driven by internal roadblocks or a lack of consensus among team members. Brands seek a third party to provide guidance and direction. However, a common misconception arises when they believe that engaging an agency is the ultimate solution to all their problems. They fail to consider their goals, how to effectively leverage the agency's expertise, and the fact that the agency may require additional work beyond their initial expectations to address the issues at hand.

Particularly in the realm of digital marketing, including SEO, PPC, and social media, the brand suddenly finds themselves tasked with creating various types of content for their website, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms. Graphic designers and video producers are enlisted to handle the workload and integrate campaigns. As a result, meetings are necessary to discuss how to align these campaigns with the agency's work. The initial belief that they could simply instruct the agency to execute specific tasks (X, Y, Z) proves to be overly simplistic.


Dave Rohrer - Director of Audience Management at Yahoo!

Stacy: We see that ourselves so often where not only are we expecting to do X, Y, Z and create a miracle but we're not necessarily allocated budgets because the solution has hired the agency and magic will happen, not, "No, we need to actually allocate dollars to make that happen," as well. Is that something that you see quite a bit?

Dave: Yeah and I've started asking this question upfront, "What are your resources?" Whatever the project is or whatever the scope is that we might be talking about, what resources do you have? Do you have a budget for Facebook? Do you have a budget for any social ads? Do you have a budget for Google and Bing ads? Are you active anywhere? What are you doing as direct mail? What are you doing as influential outreach? Do you have a social team? Do you have writers?

Do you have external writers? Developers, what resources do you have in your marketing, in your dev, any stock that you have? What do you have and what works for you? What doesn't? How can I fit into that? Because, like you just said, they want a miracle and then you start running into, "We hired you and now we don't have budget to do that."

The biggest thing I stress is before you talk to an agency to do whatever you need help with, is to do a full-on internal audit of all of your people, all of your resources if you're going to be doing a site migration or changing from a CMS or changing your e-mail provider and you're looking to talk to any consultant to help you with your e-mail files, why would you … Bring them in before you switch to make sure that they understand the new platform you're moving onto and that they're actually an expert in Math.

marketing pictures

Stacy: You mentioned something also about internal issues. I know a lot of brands think that an agency is going to be able to solve the problem of two owners or a marketing team or the executive board not necessarily all being on the same page but when you hire an agency and everyone is still internally all over the place, that's not really the best solution either, is it?

Dave: No. The larger the company, the more time you need to allocate as a mid-agency. The more time you need to allocate more resources, the more meeting time to have with people and other stakeholders that are not the ones that actually define and are over your budget. The number of times where we have had to put together point of POVs and sales decks for internal projects that we were trying to get through to other teams and basically make sure that we understood what their goals were so that we could make sure that those were then mentioned and covered in our deck to show that this project was not just going to just be a time sync or a resource sync for their budget.

Because their budget is different, their goals are different. Everything is different, so make sure that our project would align with or at least support their goals. Yeah, it can go crazy. I know someone that was trying to drive a lot of traffic and a lot of views to this really cool video that has been produced by this other team. They went to the PR team and said, "Hey, you guys! Every time you push stuff out, every time you guys are doing X, Y, Z, you're pushing people over to this YouTube area, not our own page."

What they ended up finding out was that team, bonus and everything that all of their goals were aligned with was YouTube views, not anything that was even remotely close to what they were trying to do, so they got no support.

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Stacy: How should brand managers approach hiring and onboarding an agency better?

To ensure a successful collaboration with an agency, it is crucial to begin with an internal audit and assess your resources. Consider what your organization already possesses. For example, if you were to engage an agency for product placement or influencer outreach, do you have the necessary legal permissions and the ability to distribute your products? Similarly, if you plan to implement various digital marketing strategies, do you have the resources available to execute them effectively?

If you are uncertain about your organization's capabilities, envision the projects you could undertake without hiring an agency. Assess what you could accomplish independently. For instance, if your IT team is unable to make any website changes for the next year, engaging an SEO agency may not yield significant results since they would likely recommend website modifications that cannot be implemented promptly. In such cases, it becomes essential to question the rationale behind hiring an SEO agency.

Furthermore, it is crucial to consider stakeholders beyond just your immediate superiors. Look beyond your boss and their boss and engage with other teams to understand their goals for the quarter or year. By collaborating with various teams, you can align projects and ensure that your efforts are in line with the broader organizational objectives. Start by considering the company's overarching goals and work your way down to your personal objectives.

Taking these steps will help establish a strong foundation for working with an agency and maximize the chances of achieving successful outcomes.

Eager to Learn More?

To further your knowledge about the importance of brand marketing and the best practices for working with an agency, check out our other blog posts! 

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