CMO Checklist Before Calling a Review

In the dynamic realm of brand management, the partnership between your brand and its marketing agency is the cornerstone of success. As markets evolve and consumer preferences shift, periodic evaluations become essential.

Enter the marketing agency client-agency evaluation—a key checkpoint in assessing and optimizing agency performance to align with your brand’s expectations. As market fragmentation continues to diversify consumer preferences, the need for forward-thinking strategies has never been more critical. 

We’ve compiled a checklist to help CMOs succeed as they navigate this complex terrain. Let’s take a look! 

Assess Current Performance 

Review KPIs: The first aspect of this assessment involves reviewing key performance metrics. This includes analyzing data related to campaign effectiveness, ROI, customer engagement, and brand visibility. By taking a deeper look into these metrics, you can gain valuable insights into how well the agency’s strategies are performing and whether they are hitting goals. 

Evaluate Goals: Next, evaluate the alignment of the agency with your brand goals. This goes beyond just looking at the numbers and involves examining whether the agency’s approach, messaging, and tactics are in sync with your brand’s identity and long-term vision. Are they effectively conveying your brand’s message to the target audience?

Identify Areas for Improvement: Lastly, identify the strengths and weaknesses in your current partnership. This involves taking a comprehensive look at the collaboration between your team and the agency. Are there areas where the agency excels and adds significant value to your brand? Are there areas where they fall short or fail to meet expectations? 

Define Expectations 

Clarify or Reset Expectations: Regardless of whether the agency is or is not meeting expectations, the evaluation is the perfect time to refresh precise expectations. This involves articulating specific goals such as increasing brand visibility, driving lead generation, or launching successful campaigns. These objectives serve as guiding principles, aligning the agency’s efforts with the overarching goals of the brand. 

Set or Reset KPIs: Taking time to initially set or revisit performance benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) provides a tangible framework for measuring success. By establishing clear metrics related to engagement rates, conversion rates, or return on investment (ROI), both parties can track progress and ensure accountability throughout the partnership.

Get Aligned: Finally, ensuring alignment of values and culture is crucial for building a strong foundation of trust and collaboration.

Review Agency Capabilities

Assess Expertise Across Channels: When evaluating agency capabilities, it’s imperative to assess expertise across various channels and industries. An agency’s proficiency in navigating different platforms, from social media to traditional advertising channels, is key to success. This can also be used as an opportunity for growth – are there any additional channels your team could drive revenue in?

Highlight Innovation: Innovation and adaptability are key to staying ahead of the competition. A forward-thinking agency should demonstrate a track record of innovative campaigns and a willingness to adapt strategies to emerging trends and consumer behaviors. 

Discuss Scalability: Resources and scalability are essential for ensuring the agency can accommodate the brand’s evolving needs and growth trajectory. Adequate resources, coupled with scalability, enable the agency to handle projects of varying scopes and sizes, ensuring seamless execution and sustained success in achieving marketing objectives. 

Emphasize Transparency and Communication

Open Lines of Communication: Establishing open lines of communication fosters trust and collaboration, allowing for the free exchange of ideas, feedback, and updates. 

Reporting Structure and Frequency: This ensures that both parties are aligned on how progress will be tracked and evaluated. Clear reporting mechanisms help identify successes and areas for improvement, enabling strategic adjustments as needed. 

Address Challenges: Addressing concerns and challenges promptly is essential for maintaining momentum and resolving issues before they escalate. By fostering a culture of transparency, open communication, and proactive problem-solving, brands and agencies can cultivate a strong and resilient partnership built on mutual respect and shared goals.

Final Thoughts

In the fast-paced world of marketing, the CMO checklist we’ve compiled stands as an indispensable tool for navigating the complexities of hiring a new agency or evaluating your current one. With its strategic focus on assessing performance, defining expectations, evaluating capabilities, and fostering transparency, this checklist empowers brands to make informed decisions that drive long term growth and success… not encourage unnecessary pitch processes. 

As you embark on your agency evaluation (or if there is a need for an agency review), don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about the guidance AAR Partners can provide. Together, we can elevate your marketing efforts and forge partnerships that propel your brand forward.

Lisa Colantuono

Lisa Colantuono is the President of AAR Partners. An agency search consultant for over two decades, Lisa is also an avid writer. Lisa has contributed many articles in top industry trades such as Forbes, Huffington Post, Advertising Age, Adweek and HubSpot Blogs’ Agency Post. Recently, Lisa entered the world of publishing with her book, @AARLisa: New Biz in 140 characters (or Less), written for the on-the-go new business exec that needs cut-to-the-chase insights to nail new business wins again and again. Lisa is also part of the industry speaking circuit, presenting at national conferences including 4A’s Transformation Conference, AAF Admerica National Conference, BOLO, HOW Design Live, Mirren, and AdAge Small Agency Conference.