How to choose the right marketing agency
Choosing the right marketing partner is an important and often overwhelming decision for most small to mid-sized businesses. Once you have made the decision to hire an agency, what comes next? There are a few things to take into consideration.
- Look for an agency with specific expertise and experience that fit your goals, vision and values.
- Know your budget before you start and make sure your goals are clear and defined.
- Before you start it’s important that key-decision makers and team members are clear about the selection criteria and desired outcomes. This will save time and potential frustration later on.
- Ask for recommendations from local businesses. Are there any local brands you admire? Ask who their marketing partners are.
- Review the websites of marketing agencies in your area. Check out their prior campaigns, do background research on the agency and the kinds of clients they work with.
Contact the standouts
Contact the agencies that stand out for you. Provide them with information on your current marketing strategy and how it’s working/not working. Outline your goals for the future. Provide basic information about your customer type, where they can be found, sales/revenue, client growth and expectations for future growth, tactics and your marketing budget. You may consider writing an RFP (request for proposals) or a less-formal RFI (request for information). These documents help tell agencies what you are looking for and give you a baseline for evaluating offers.
Of the agencies that respond positively, narrow your list down to the ones you think will be the most compatible with your business model and goals.
Here you will be looking for compatibility with your organization and business culture. You are making an important investment into the future, so take your time and make the most informed choice. If it’s possible to meet representatives face-to-face, do so. Try and have a standardized way with which to rate them against each other. It’s wonderful if they are charming, but it’s important that they can deliver and have the right skills for your needs.
Key Interview Questions:
Do they understand what your marketing needs are? Do they understand the nature of your business?
Are you on the same wavelength?
Ask them to tell you about similar clients. How did they deal with challenges? What were the outcomes? Here you are looking for their ability to demonstrate critical thinking and find solutions to problems.
Ask about their level of expertise in both traditional and digital marketing. Who are the marketing experts that would be working on the marketing strategy? What are their backgrounds and experience?
What tactics do they see as the most important?
Get an idea about what they could provide with different budget levels (high, medium, low). Don’t be afraid to provide your budget or a range that you are comfortable with. Most agencies can offer tailored solutions to fit your needs. If they can’t speak candidly and transparently about cost – take it as a red flag and proceed with caution.
Important. Do they ask you the right questions? Are they really listening to your specific needs and requirements? Do they seem able to develop creative and innovated ideas on delivery?
Is the energy there to follow through?
Make sure you have done the background work on verifying the success of prior campaigns. Ask for references.
Do they have a good track record?
Meet with relevant team members and measure the finalists against your detailed selection criteria.
Try starting with a small project or short-term contract to get a feel of how they work and how you work as partners.
Remember: you don’t want a service provider; you want a partner as invested in your success as you are.
Are you looking for the right marketing agency in Winnipeg, Canada or North America? You can contact us and get your questions answered.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.