11 Tips to Choosing the Best Marketing Agency
Hiring a marketing agency can help you attract new customers, convert more leads, drive sales, increase profit, and achieve successful outcomes, which means choosing the best marketing agency for your brand is critical.
Knowing what makes a good marketing agency and the benefits they can bring, how do you then go about finding the right marketing agency for you? If you’re looking to partner with an agency and build a long-term relationship, you need to do your research, meet with them, have internal discussions, and finally agree on your goals and what the agency will deliver.
What is the right agency for you? Well, at the very core, it’s one who is focused on driving growth for your business? They ask the right questions and seek to understand your brand in a way that allows them to develop a marketing strategy that helps you get more customers. Our eleven tips will help you hire the right marketing agency for your brand and achieve your goals.
Our 11 tips for finding the best marketing agency for your brand are:
1. Set your own expectations internally – what is it that you need, what do you expect to get, what kind of agency do you want? You need to be very clear about this before you start researching agencies. For example, think about what you want from an agency. Do you want them to simply take on all your marketing activity and run with it freely? Or do you already have a marketing plan that you need to have delivered very specifically? Perhaps you want to work closely with them on your marketing strategy to deliver optimal results, or maybe you don’t have any marketing experience and you need an agency to guide you. Having a clear vision of what you need and expect will help you ask agencies the right questions and find one that’s right for you.
2. Start with desk research, and don’t limit yourself to the local area or restrict your search geographically. The agency that’s right for you may not be on your doorstep, and that’s fine – with modern technology it doesn’t need to be. In fact, you may get more from an agency when you have less frequent face-to-face meetings, as you won’t be paying for the time it takes for them to organize an off-site meeting and travel there and back. Essentially, this is time that they could be spending working on your account. While a face-to-face meeting is great every once in a while, there’s little that can’t be done remotely.
3. Look at the agency’s body of work on their website and social media. Do they do for themselves the things you are looking for? Do they have a good website? Are they producing quality content? Do they have a consistent brand look and tone across all channels? In short, do they drink their own Kool-Aid…?
4. Dig deep, ask a lot of questions, find out everything you need to know about the agency’s capabilities and recent results, the tools they use, how they measure, track and report, how they handle challenges, and how they prefer to communicate. Keep a mental note of how many questions they ask you, too. This is an important signal as it shows they are curious about your business and what you do. Asking you questions that get into the nitty gritty of your business is also proof that they know what to look for, and shows their depth of experience.
5. Go even more in-depth on the agency’s culture. Are they collaborative, innovative, energetic, vibrant, friendly, passionate? You need to know that they will work well with and be a good fit for your team.
6. Meet the whole team you’ll be working with – and ideally, everyone in your team should meet them too. It’s critical that your main point of contact is an experienced marketer (it’s something that’s worth insisting on so you can be confident that they will help drive your business forward). Additionally, it isn’t unreasonable to take into consideration whether you like the people in the agency (or not). You’re going to be working closely with them after all, and if they don’t appeal to you, will they appeal to your customers?
7. Have an open conversation about goals, budget, and timelines. A good agency will inquire about these things, but if they don’t ask about your goals or what success looks like to you, how do you know that they can get you where you want to be? Our tips on talking about goals, timelines, and budget are:
- Goals: Ask prospective agencies if they feel they can achieve your goals (both short, medium, and long-term) and be open to their feedback if they feel your goals are unrealistic.
- Timelines: Don’t only talk about goals, but discuss the timeline for reaching those goals. If you agree to double website traffic but your expectation is to do that in three months and theirs is one year, this needs to be discussed.
- Budget: Many agencies have minimum retainers which you should know about before you get too far. Share your budget with the agency rather than keeping it a secret in case the agency takes as much as they can. Marketing is much like building a house. If you want a $30k house, you’ll find a builder who’ll give you a nice tiny house will bare necessities. If you want a $7 million house, it’s still a house but it will be significantly bigger, more elaborate and luxurious. In the same way, an agency needs transparency on the budget that makes sense for your business and your goals so they can create the best plan to get you there.
8. Ask for referrals and recommendations from other clients – you could even ask to speak to them. Try and find reviews on third-party sites so you get a balanced perspective.
9. Don’t go on price alone. While price is, of course, one aspect to consider, look at the value the agency is providing before you squeeze their bottom line (which is often an ineffective approach anyway, as you may be scrimping on quality and service).
10. Find out how they communicate with their clients. It’s essential for a marketing agency to communicate with you effectively, for example through reports, on or offline meetings, and emails. Ask about their communication processes – if they’re going to be an intrinsic part of your business, this will be part of the relationship-building process.
11. Ask them to provide objective evidence. While you probably don’t want swathes of reports to read through, it’s important that a marketing agency can show they understand your business and your ideal customers, they can speak your language, and they’ve delivered successful outcomes for other clients. You could also ask them for an example of an end-to-end marketing campaign they’ve recently worked on. This should show you their creative flair, their operational processes, the campaign’s success vs. objectives, and financial results.
Check out our hiring a marketing agency resource for more content on all aspects of hiring a marketing agency (including a downloadable guide), or call us if you’d like to chat through how LimeLight Marketing can support your brand.