Do you know what a growth agency is, and more specifically, how it differs from a traditional agency, social agency, digital agency (or any other type of agency)?
A growth agency can be defined as a one-stop shop focused solely on expanding your business. At Bamboo, we focus on measurable outcomes, not output. Which is WHY we’re a growth agency. The difference between measurable outcomes and outputs is that an outcome is the way a thing turns out. Output is the amount of something produced by a person. Some agencies might have a team of creatives intent on dreaming up the next big award-winning campaign, but the creatives at a growth agency tweak campaigns, re-think, pivot and test creative to squeeze value out of every penny possible.
“Growth agency” is essentially an organization that combines talents like paid social, user acquisition, creative services, and more to deliver growth-oriented results to clients. Having driven over $2 billion in incremental revenue for our clients, we’ve learned that long-term, profitable growth should always be the priority when working with our clients. We look beyond CAC and ROAS to total, actual profits generated.
Brands are moving past “growth at all costs!” tactics and focusing on how to keep valuable customers, longer. Focusing on long-term, profitable growth metrics versus just quick growth tactics and acquiring new users at the lowest cost possible, will help to retain and nurture loyal customers for much longer.
If you’re in the market to bring on a growth partner to help you focus on profitability, there are specific questions that apply to growth agencies that you’ll definitely want to touch on. Below, we put together 6 valuable questions you should ask when interviewing potential growth agencies.
1. “Why should we go with a growth agency instead of a specialized agency (like social or design)?”
Even if you already know the answer to this one (Hint: Top growth agencies can deliver value far beyond what a specialized agency would…), the answer you receive can be quite telling. True growth agencies understand not only how both the advertising and marketing industries operate, but they also evaluate the broader landscape from all perspectives to provide solutions and strategies for all business KPIs. This can include everything from auditing the industry and brand competitors, to mapping out user flows, building and refining customer personas, and optimizing spend and resources across various activities.
Growth agencies know measurable outcomes happen when everyone is working together towards the same goals. Where a social agency might develop and execute a plan in their expertise silo, a growth agency offers a full team of people who approach problem-solving through multiple lenses across measurement and analytics, to media planning, branding, and creative. A stellar growth agency not only has talented managers leading each team, but they encourage those managers to communicate learnings and insights across departments, and other client agency partners, to better equip all teams and to avoid duplicating work.
2. “Who would work on my account, and when can I chat with them?”
Your first meeting with a potential growth agency will most likely include the big guns – VPs, C-suites, and maybe a founder or two. Nothing wrong with that, you always want to make a good, strong impression in a new relationship, but it’s highly unlikely any of those people will touch your account on a regular basis. Make sure to get time with the team who will actually be pushing the needle and who you’ll be in touch with on a day-to-day basis!
Ask about past experience, how it might apply to your account, but consider that personality fit is a big factor, too. If you’re not meshing well with someone, don’t be shy about asking to meet other teammates as well. This question also gives you insight into how the agency would create a team to meet your specific needs. Depending on what you want to accomplish, you’ll likely have a group of people, along with an Account Manager, working across search, social, and creative to meet your business goals. Don’t forget to ask to see some examples of when the full team really came together to use each department’s expertise to solve a problem!
3. “What does a successful client/agency relationship look like to you?”
Hiring a growth marketing agency means entering into an important relationship, and you want to make sure everyone is on the same page about how things should go. Align on how often you’ll meet, what an agenda looks like for a typical meeting, how reports will be delivered, who your day-to-day contact will be, etc. If there’s a process you’re not super keen on, just communicate your preferred working style or process early on. Ask how the prospective agency would accommodate this and what solutions they would employ to get there. Top growth agencies build processes around what’s worked well, but like everything they do, they can (and should) adapt and create to meet your unique needs.
Bonus: While in these foundational conversations, request a reference or two from the growth advertising agency you’re considering. And a pro tip here, ask for a reference that the growth agency, specifically, your account manager, is actively working on so you can get an accurate temperature on how things are going at the current stage. A good growth marketing agency will be more than happy to provide references and case studies, just like these.
4. “How do you measure success?”
A strong answer to this question is both qualitative and quantitative. Top growth advertising agencies will want you, the client, to be happy, first and foremost. To achieve that, you’ll need open communication, unburdened collaboration, and transparency, among other things. But this desire should never come at the expense of strong, data-backed counsel. Hiring a team of “yes” people never works out well in the long run… Don’t be afraid to challenge the potential partner to tell you how they communicate both bad and good news or when they fundamentally disagree with a client’s proposed approach.
The quantitative answer might include mentions of programs, including proprietary software, the team uses. A reporting overview is always helpful so you know what to expect and so that you can ask if the growth marketing agency has the ability to surface certain numbers if they’re tied to your business KPIs.
5. “What verticals do you have expertise in?”
It always helps if a growth agency already has familiarity with your industry, especially since the digital advertising space changes so rapidly. An agency that offers insider knowledge can provide a competitive value you might not find with another that has limited experience in your specific vertical. For example, Bamboo’s work with innovative brands in direct-to-consumer, mobile, subscriptions, fintech, and marketplaces, has taught us a multitude of best practices, tips & tricks, and insights specialized to those industries. However, we will caveat that by saying that if you fall in love with a certain agency that doesn’t have a ton of previous work in your vertical, don’t count them out just because of that! As we talked about before, a great growth agency has the ability to adapt to new challenges and provide solutions to any and all business goals.
6. “How much does your biggest client spend per month with you?”
This is a great question to help you figure out where you, the client, would fit into the growth marketing agency in terms of attention and prioritization. If your budgets are small and the growth agency you’re exploring says their average client spends 3x what you can, you’ll want to switch gears and find a partner that's used to working with smaller budgets to make sure you don’t slip to the bottom of the list, and to ensure whoever you choose to work with understands how to be nimble on limited funds. On the opposite end, if you have generous budgets and your growth agency candidate has only managed small budgets, it might not quite have the experience you need to hit your unique KPIs.
It’s always an exciting endeavor taking on a new partner who brings fresh talent, ideas, and expertise. Strong vetting of a potential growth agency will ensure the transition is smooth and low-stress so you focus on results, measurable outcomes, and long-term profitability. At Bamboo, we love what we do. If you’re looking for a new growth agency, let’s chat!