how to choose a marketing agency
January 23, 2022 | Written by Jennifer Thompson

How to Choose the Right Marketing Agency for Your Business

The start of the year is a great time to review your marketing needs for the next 12 months. You may have some great ideas about how to grow your business, or you may need some help in that department.

As you’re reviewing the marketing efforts that have worked, or not worked, this past year, it’s important to think about how a marketing agency can assist you with your marketing strategy and tactics.

You know your business best: what your products or services are, and who your customers are. But a marketing agency can be a strategic partner who knows the best marketing tactics to get your product or service to that customer in the most effective way. The digital world we live in is changing all the time, and marketing channels and trends evolve just as quickly. Should you still be on Facebook? Should you advertise on Tik Tok? What’s the law around sending emails to customers? How do you rank better on Google? It’s an agency’s job to stay up to date on marketing trends, and to also have the technical knowledge on how to set up digital ads, create engaging websites and reach the most potential customers you can.

There are many things to consider when choosing a marketing agency to work with. It’s important to choose the right agency that suits your business needs and someone you’re always going to feel comfortable working with. Here are seven areas you need to review before you choose a marketing agency.

1 – Create Your Marketing Goals

The first thing is to figure out your marketing goals for the year. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? Are you trying to get more website visitors? Do you want to grow your social media following? The agency should have experts or specialists in those areas and be able to create a plan to help you reach those goals. It’s key that you understand your needs so you can articulate them clearly to an agency. You will also need to know your project deliverables and any assets you need (i.e. do you need them to make you a new website?)

2 - Set a Marketing Budget

The budget you have for your marketing efforts needs to be set at the beginning so an agency doesn’t present ideas that you can’t afford. This also helps them understand the amount of work to be done. More budget means you can afford more time (more hours), more resources, and take on more projects. That said, a good marketing agency should be able to find a solution for almost any budget – they will be honest with you about what they can do.

The size of your budget can also dictate what sort of services or relationship you are looking for. A smaller budget might mean more transactional online services or some self-serve options, where a large budget would allow for more comprehensive or custom solutions, as well as on-going consulting.

3 – Determine What Kind of Relationship You Need with an Agency

Once you know your marketing goals for the year, it’s important to consider what type of relationship you’re looking for with an agency. The type of relationship will depend on the marketing expertise and resources of any internal team you have. This is especially important to consider if you don’t have any in-house marketing resources. Is your need strategic or tactical, or a bit of both? Maybe you have a solid idea of your goals and overall marketing strategy for the year, but you just need someone to execute the tactics. But it’s possible you may even need help setting the marketing goals for the year. For example, at a high level you know you need a new website, but you need research and fresh ideas from outside your team to set the direction and goals of the website for the year.

Think of it this way, is the agency to be another vendor that simply creates what you ask for, or a trusted advisor or partner? Marketing agencies have evolved into strategic consultancies and technology implementers (such as setting up a new CRM) as a result of wanting to create more value for clients and meet their needs. You want them to be able to see your vision – and they will –  but an agency that’s a strategic partner will go beyond that. They will bring their knowledge and experience to the table and won’t simply be a “yes man” but someone who will make recommendations about the best way to do something (even if it wasn’t your idea).

When you understand the kind relationship you want, make sure the marketing agency aligns with your personality and are fun to work with. You want to have similar values and company culture to ensure it’s an effective and long-term relationship.

4 – Review the Agency’s Service Offerings

When you look at your marketing goals and any assets you need, you will know what services you need (at least to start). You want to make sure the agency offers that service and can show aptitude in it. For example, if one goal is to create a new website, you’ll need an agency that offers web design, web development, and perhaps copy-writing services and photography too. You want to ensure their team members have the right experience or are specialized. This is especially important when you consider the technical side of marketing. Consider asking questions like these:

  • Do they have someone that understands the latest website development technologies?
  • How long has the person running clients’ social media accounts been working in marketing?
  • Who will your account manager be? Account managers with experience working on both the client and agency sides can have an advantage.

5 – Research the Agency’s Credibility and Experience

Research the agency like you would any other company you might do business with. Look for reviews on their website or third-party websites. Do the reviews seem positive and authentic? Pay particular attention to the area you need help in: do they have experience in that area? Do reviews mention success in those areas? If they made a new website for another client, visit that website and review it yourself. Is it professional looking and easy to navigate?

Look also for social proof, such as testimonials from other clients. Ask for references to call or a client list. Has the agency won any awards for marketing? Finally, look at the agency’s own website (if web design is something they specialize in). If they’re experts in social media, what do their own social media accounts look like?

6 – Understand What the Agency is Promising

If you’re shopping for an agency and getting a lot of proposals, you’re going to hear a lot of promises. Anyone can promise you the world, but dig in to how they’re going to do it. Can they meet your timeline and stick to your budget? How will they measure the success of a project or campaign? Do the metrics they use for success make sense for your business? And do they set you up for continued success? For example, a good agency would never just build you a website and then be done. They’d set up a training plan for your team to maintain the website, and a plan on how to get more visitors to your new site.

Are the results they’re promising realistic? It’s hard to know exactly what “realistic” means as it depends on the marketing channel, your industry, your market share or even what the goal is, but if it sounds too good to be true, then keep asking questions. If they promise to double your social media following in two weeks, ask how they will do that. An agency won’t share every little detail in a quote or proposal, but they should be open to talking about the high-level plan to reach your goal.

7 – Explain Your Communication Style

Communication is a two-way street, and it’s important to set expectations from the start on how you want to communicate. There may be things that are important to you, so considering asking questions like: how often are there phone calls or meetings? Are there weekly status updates? Do you have direct access to employees working on your account? Set out what you need to feel comfortable and see if that aligns with the agency’s communication style and processes.

If you’re actively looking for an agency to partner with, we would love to be considered. As our name suggests, we partner with businesses to provide a roadmap to success for an organization’s marketing and sales goals, whether that’s through updated branding, customer experience improvements, digital advertising, technology implementation, website development and more, all with the intent of driving revenue. Your business is unique so your goals are unique, and you need a strategic marketing and revenue plan customized to your organization to help you achieve those goals.

Our experienced and skilled team can get you there. Please give us a call or send us an email today. 

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