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With over a quarter century of experience solving business problems, Calder Bateman has been fortunate to work with a wide range of clients – large and small, across many industries and regions.

Over the years, we often encounter prospective clients who are struggling with how to select the best communications partner. You could search for the ‘best marketing firms of Edmonton’ or ‘top 10 Alberta advertising agencies’ and start with those lists, or perhaps someone refers you to an agency. Regardless of how you come across a potential partner, there are a number of factors that come into play when clients and agencies choose to work together.

Here are just a few factors to consider when choosing an agency to work with your organization.

1. Are you looking for one-time assistance OR ongoing support?

For a one-and-done type of project, it is easier to focus in on the specific skillsets required for immediate success.

Often, however, there is opportunity for increased return on investment (ROI) by considering your potential future requirements (even if they aren’t needed right now).

Significant efficiencies can be gained by working with a company that already understands you, your processes and requirements.

It can be beneficial to look at a company’s breadth/depth/integration of disciplines that may need to be called upon at some point – or even taken into consideration on the current project to expand reach/impact (for example, perhaps there’s an opportunity to add an earned media component to your current project).

In a situation like this, the company should be nimble and scalable to your needs as they may fluctuate over time.

2. Do you have internal resources OR do you need full support?

Similar to being flexible to your needs from a timing perspective, it is useful for a company to be adaptable in their service offering.

If you have an internal marketing, communications and/or graphic design team, being able to select agency services à la carte allows you to strengthen resources where and when you need them.

Consider if the company you’re considering working with has the existing internal resources to take on a bigger project if required? Are they able to handle your expanding needs? Have they helped other companies grow? Will they be able to work efficiently with your existing internal resources?

3. Are you looking for someone to execute your ideas OR bring new perspectives, strategy and expertise to the table?

Execution of your existing plans can be efficiently handled through a small design team or group of freelancers but this approach can require more internal management resources and may limit the scope of approaches considered.

It can sometimes be difficult for internal teams to stay up to date with the latest communication advances and it may be hard to keep external groups engaged/motivated without allowing them strategic/creative input.

Calder Bateman often collaborates with internal client teams for strategic/concept development and then can act as a resource as required during the executional stages. Sometimes, even one or two key agency resources can be a valuable catalyst to a client team.

Any new perspectives and expertise should be anchored in your company’s existing core strengths and beliefs.

Consideration should be given to an agency’s proven ability to draw out these insights through facilitated discovery sessions, key stakeholder interviews, etc.

Strategic and creative leadership capabilities should also be weighed. This can be done through review of case studies of related projects/industry work, portfolios and awards. Direct industry experience is not always possible or applicable (and sometimes may pose a potential conflict) but the experience should be relatable to your needs (for example, has the agency you’re considering ever launched a product, or did work around increasing digital engagement?)

4. What does your company believe in? What do you look for in a good ‘fit’?

‘Fit’ is important… and is often difficult to gauge solely through a written RFP process.

When determining best fit, some things to look for could include team chemistry, the ability to respectfully and constructively push/challenge your assumptions and the relationship-building capabilities with your internal team and related suppliers.

If corporate citizenship and social responsibility are key traits in your company, does the agency share those attributes?

Whether you’re looking for marketing, advertising, public relations, digital and social media services… whether your business is B2B or B2C… whether you’re in Edmonton, Calgary, Alberta, western Canada or elsewhere in North America, whatever the case may be, we recommend considering these factors to help you select the right agency, no matter what kind of organization you are, and what type of communications and marketing help you’re looking for.

Want to see if Calder Bateman is the right agency for your organization? Get in touch. Email us at

About the author

Craig Marler
As the quarterback of CB’s strategic team, Craig asks the big questions that help solve our clients’ most complex problems. With a reputation as being one of the nicest people in the industry, Craig’s unflappable influence is one of the main reasons CBers can remain calm in an extremely high pressured, fast moving industry.

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