Making the decision to hire a marketing agency for your company is a significant step in the life of your business. You’ll soon realize that there’s a lot more to it than getting in touch with the first agency you run across, however.
Five Facets to Consider
The specifics of what a business needs out of a marketing agency will differ from company to company, but here are five general factors to look for:
1. Clear Purpose
Does the agency you’re considering have a clear purpose, or does it tend to use a generic approach that leads to safe and predictable results? Any marketing outfit worth its salt should be able to explain clearly and succinctly which methods it uses and why.
For example, Simple Machines Marketing’s homepage explains its purpose is: “[To help] small B2B companies build awareness and grow leads through a proven, strategy-driven approach to marketing, sales and automation.”
You might sense that this aligns perfectly with your own goals, or you may believe that you need something else. Regardless, don’t work with an agency unless it provides this level of clarity up front.
2. Attention to Detail
Big-picture strategy is important, but you probably already have a fair idea of what your goals are. You know that, for example, you want to grab attention, generate traffic and drive conversions.
The reason you’re hiring a marketing agency is to have expert coaching that can execute on a micro level. When you compare different agencies, stay on the lookout for ones that have a record of displaying sharp attention to detail. This is what sets a great agency apart from the average.
3. Vertical Expertise
If at all possible, look for marketing agencies that have vertical expertise in your industry. This will be easier for some firms in certain industries and niches.
“If you are an accounting firm, for example, you might not be able to find a digital strategist that knows cost accounting, but you can certainly cherry-pick enough to find an agency that understands financial services,” consultant George Dearing notes. “Not only will you save time by not having to rehash industry basics, you might even be lucky enough to see some real innovation occur as your marketing team digs deep.”
4. Pricing Transparency
It’s not a good sign when you meet with a marketing agency and the team gives you the runaround about its prices. It’s normal and understandable for an agency to be hesitant to nail down a hard figure, but it should at least be comfortable enough to offer a soft quote early in the process.
A lack of transparency here may suggest your potential consultants have something to hide. At the very least, they may lack experience.
5. Comfort Level
Ultimately, it comes down to comfort level. When you interact with the agency, do you feel like it’s a good fit? Is there a natural connection?
Do you see your business benefiting from the prospective agency’s services, at least as much as it will benefit from your account? You don’t need to get a warm and fuzzy feeling, but you certainly shouldn’t feel cold about the potential relationship.
Be Willing to Pivot
As you evaluate various companies, use the above criteria to hone your list. You might not find a perfect fit, but you should end up with a firm that can help you achieve some of your goals.
You’re choosing a marketing agency, not getting married. When you look at the selection process through this lens, it becomes much less intimidating.
Yes, it takes time, energy, and resources to find and hire an agency — so don’t want take it lightly — but you always have the option of changing your mind and going another direction. That should free you up to make a good selection.