How To Select Modern Digital Partners

The agency model used to be pretty straightforward – produce great creative and slot it into the right mass media to reach a target audience. Digital has upended the model, driven by data, personalization, and microtargeting across audiences and channels. Clients can now seek out a mix of creative, technology, data, and strategy partners – which can be a double-edged sword with a host of new players now competing for a piece of the pie. Here are four areas to consider when selecting partners in this new digital ecosystem.

Specialization & Integration

Providing all the necessary services to every type of client is impossible, despite the catchy taglines of the biggest players. There’s simply too much depth required across industry verticals, products, channels, audiences, devices and end user experiences to be truly great at everything. The best shops have focus and specialization. They also integrate well with in-house teams and other vendors (playing nice in the sandbox) to achieve the client’s goals.

Front Line Talent

Traditional agency models added layers of account and business management on top of the resources actually doing the work. This had two negative effects – driving up overhead costs and increasing the distance between the client and the front line talent, the true “makers”. Jack Skeels from Agency Agile penned a great piece on this operational challenge, calling the makers “extremely talented knowledge workers…not motivated by money or status, but by intrinsically rewarding activities”. At Zemoga we’ve flattened the organization by eliminating account management and instead rely on delivery managers to drive client satisfaction. These individuals are intimately involved in day to day strategy and production efforts with clients and partners – eliminating the paper shuffling in the middle. Our teams of creative technologists are also directly client facing, building peer relationships through integrated collaboration.

Relationships & Projects

“Agency of record” contracts aren’t dead but are becoming much more rare. In their place are a mix of projects and long term relationships with clear goals and functional boundaries. Digital partners have adapted their business models to a project world, understanding that clients often need to test potential vendors with short term engagements to build trust and empathy within the teams. However, creating long term relationships is still in the interest of both clients and digital partners to allow for deeper alignment of business and delivery models, and to prepare for scaling of resources through training in advance of demand. Long term relationships can also allow vendors to understand, act, and invest with more of a client ownership mentality – driving faster innovation and shared risk taking.

Accountability & Transparency

Modern marketing has transitioned from John Wannamaker’s famous quote, “Half my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half”, to management guru Peter Drucker’s line, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Digital efforts are eminently measurable, and both clients and digital partners should insist on accountability for performance metrics. The goal isn’t perfection out of the gate – but rather use of a test-measure-refine agile approach for continuous improvement. The flip side of accountability is transparency. Well run digital shops practice radical transparency in scoping, estimation, and pricing. Greater visibility into potential risks (and returns) fosters trust and a shared commitment to meeting objectives.

Zemoga has been providing top-level dedicated engineering and design talent to leading US companies for 17 years. We fill talent gaps. Short term, long term, on-site and nearshore. We are THE pioneers of outsourced technology and creative talent from Colombia. We invented it. Why Zemoga? Simple. We have the smartest, most dedicated and talented staff who thrive in a dynamic culture with clients that are forward thinking. Contact us now to find out how we can supercharge your team and learn how we’ve done it in spades for other leading firms.

About the author

DJ is CEO & Founder of Zemoga. He has worked in the digital design and production space for over 30 years specializing in developing customer engagement strategies & building teams and technologies that provide groundbreaking solutions for F500 Co's.