5 Tips To Find The Right Marketing Agency For Your Business
By Susanne Webster On May 21, 2015
How do we find the right marketing agency? This is a question most business owners have probably asked themselves at some point—and a question essential to ask, considering that the choice of a marketing agency has a major impact on the success and failure of your business. However, before you start inviting marketing agencies, there are a few essential questions you should ask yourself. If you answer these questions first, your chances of making the right choice are definitely high.
1. What is your objective in hiring a marketing agency?
Everyone who contacts an agency no doubt wants more exposure, conversions, etc. However, it’s not that simple. Before you approach an agency, you should know precisely what your needs are. This is important as every agency usually has its expertise in a specific area. Even though many claim that they follow a holistic approach and know everything, the truth is they usually don’t. Therefore, you should determine your own needs precisely and ask yourself the following questions: What are my company’s overall objectives? What is my budget? What precise tasks do I want my agency to do? At this point, be picky and very precise. For instance, social media these days is just a generic concept. What precisely do you want? Do you want to use social media as your new CRM, or do you want just some more likes? Do you want engagement? Better analytics? So many aspects of social media can be considered, not to mention the number of available networks.
Therefore, be clear about what your real needs are and then consider the second question:
2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each agency?
Say you have found a number of interesting agencies. Now you have to learn about their actual strengths and weaknesses. To do this, you can make use of some easy and effective tricks. First and foremost, check their founders’ LinkedIn profiles. Usually an agency’s strengths are aligned with its founder’s core skills. Therefore, if you are not dealing with a multimillion-dollar company, check the founders’ LinkedIn and see what core strengths they have listed on their personal profiles. This is a great way to determine the priorities of the agency. Another good strategy is to look at the company’s listed reference customers. Do not just accept a public quote on the website. Dig deeper! Most things are public, and you can access them simply on the web. For instance, if an agency is working with a company’s social media, just go to the company’s social media profile and see if everything is really as shiny as is claimed on the company’s website. Furthermore, don’t be shy to call the agency’s client itself and ask for personal feedback about the collaboration. If you like what you see or hear, it might be a good match, and you can move on to the next question on our list.
3. What marketing agency size is perfect for me?
I have mentioned it before: the nature of an agency clearly depends on its size. A large agency can better support its claim to be able to do everything, whereas a small agency might struggle with this question.
A general but maybe subjective advice is the size of the agency should match your own. Do not look out for the great global players if you are only a small business. Even though large agencies have more resources in terms of know-how and scope of projects, there is a general disequilibrium of power if you are a small business. The consequence is many times, your project is not the number one priority; difficulties in project execution are not given the same priority as you might experience in a smaller agency. This advice may seem subjective, but it reflects the perspective of most industry experts and is based on my personal experience. Therefore, my advice is to search for an agency with a size similar to your company’s.
4. Who is my main contact person?
This question is undeniably the key to any successful collaboration. Your agency’s contact person is the most important person you will be dealing with. In many cases, the agency’s director, together with the project manager, attends the first meeting. However, don’t be bedazzled by a charismatic director who sells you the project well. In fact, this is often the last time that you work with the director himself. Most of the time, you will probably be dealing with another person—that is, your main contact person. This is not bad at all and does not say anything about the quality of the agency. However, make sure you like not only the director but also the rest of the agency’s team. Otherwise, you might run into some bad surprises.
5. What is a marketing agency worth?
This is a tricky question with many possible answers. In general, it can be said that there is a wide range of prices among agencies. In this context, it is important to highlight that price is not always a determinant of quality. In other words, just because you pay a lot does not mean the quality you are receiving is better. For instance, if you approach a marketing agency based in the prime location of your city, you simply have to accept that the prestige of the place is somewhat incorporated into the price.
My advice is to stay flexible. Do not commit to any long-term contract. Instead, arrange a test phase of about 1 to 2 months and clearly define your marketing objectives. This way, you can test your marketing agency on the spot without committing many resources. Another possibility is to incorporate pay-by-result elements in the contract. This means that only when the marketing agency’s campaigns deliver the promised, required KPIs do you pay the full price. Even though most agencies avoid such an arrangement (for good reasons, as they clearly risk payment), I have heard about many such arrangements with two satisfied parties at the end.
Another much cheaper option might be to recruit marketing experts on demand. For instance, if you already have a website and plan only to execute some minor campaigns (e.g., Google AdWords), then it might be an efficient solution to get an on-demand expert online. For many small-business owners, this is probably already a sufficient solution; hiring a professional marketing agency for a business of their size might be overdoing it. At any rate, it might be worth having a look at such websites as they can carry major cost advantages for your business.
To conclude, whatever step you take, give yourself time to make the right decision if you plan to contract a marketing agency for a long time. Check as many marketing agencies as you can. Don’t only rely on word of mouth, but also spend some time to research yourself. Furthermore, don’t forget your bargaining power. The market is very competitive. Do not sign a contract after the first meeting. Arrange a set of meetings and let the marketing agencies pitch their business to you. With clear objectives in mind, confidence in who you are and who you want to deal with, and the ability to negotiate, you have an excellent chance to find the right marketing agency for your business.
The article, 5 Tips To Find The Right Agency was written by John Kalibre.