6 Questions to Help You Choose the Right Marketing Agency
We know what you might be thinking. Being a marketing agency that offers such services, we could easily craft the questions and slant the topics toward what we might do well. After all, each marketing agency has its own strengths and weaknesses. And it would be natural to develop an argument where, indeed, we end up being the natural choice for all small businesses as a result. But that wasn’t really our intent when we drafted this. Our goal, at the end of the day, is to help small-to-midsize businesses and individuals succeed. And what we outline here applies to us and any agency that you might potentially seek services from. If that is us, great. If it’s not, that’s fine too and we sincerely want you to find a business that helps you in the maximum way possible. With that, here are the 6 questions that can help you get to a better fit with an agency you might hire.
“Can you provide samples of the marketing work you’ve done?”
The “proof is in the pudding,” as the old saying goes. When you can see examples of work that an agency has done, it can help provide a little bit more assurance that you’ll at least get the deliverables you asked for. Sure, many may not have samples but they might be able to show you sites they’ve worked on, testimonials of the type of work they do, or other proof that they do quality work. Especially, if you’re working with them on content, marketing plans, branding, paid media, or even a website redesign. Case studies will also help you better understand how that particular agency approached a problem and how they can help you address your challenges.
“Will you help our company learn aspects of digital marketing?”
As a marketing agency that provides ongoing training services, we think it’s great to have an educated client. The reason is that, together with that small business, we can be more effective in coming up with solutions on that client’s behalf. Conversely, we think you as a small business should try to learn as much as you can about the field of marketing. After all, the more you know, the better questions you can ask and the more you can provide the right insight that might be the difference between potential conversions for your company or those simply ignoring your messaging. We’re not saying here that agencies have to offer formal training. But part of what they can do is provide insights into why they are doing the things they do on an ongoing basis. That additional explanation takes work. But it does two things: it helps you as a client get educated on various marketing operations, and it allows more transparency into what they’re doing, so you ultimately know what you’re paying for.
“Are you a specialist in our industry?”
It always helps if the marketing agencies you’re considering have industry-specific experience. A few benefits: It takes less time for them to get up to speed, they understand audiences’ behavior, and have probably already tested what works for similar customers. But hiring specialists can be good and bad. If you need an agency to think outside the box for example, it’s not a bad idea to hire one with broader experience in different industries as well. After all, those agencies can apply their knowledge from one area to your particular industry as well.
Also, even if they don’t have industry-specific experience, the agencies you’re considering should have particular subject matter expertise for the role you’re hiring them for. Ask them upfront particular areas of focus: For example, in marketing, agencies also specialize – some do paid media, others do content, still more might focus on design and UX, while a different set might do email marketing automation or branding. We wouldn’t, for example, simply hire any design agency to do your paid media marketing unless they have a consistent practice in it.
“How do you customize solutions for clients?”
This may seem a bit vanilla, as you might ask yourself: Don’t all marketing agencies customize their solutions to clients? And the answer, for the most part, is that they have to, at least at a base level. We think one distinction for you to dig into with the agencies is to ask them about how they customize their services? Do they take an approach by industry, by audience, by business type? Do they adopt the tone/voice of the business that’s already defined? Do they prioritize the solutions the client needs most immediately versus the ones they know how to do well? We often see agencies that convince clients they need one set of services but, in fact, they only push those same solutions because it’s what they know versus what the client really needs. Certainly, something you should watch out for.
“Who will actually do the work on my account?”
Tell us if this sounds familiar. As a small business, you talk to a co-owner of a marketing firm or one of the leaders. They really get your business well. They understand your challenges, can recommend a smart approach, but once you sign the contract, you get passed off to more junior members of their team or contractors to do the implementation. That’s not a knock on those agencies. In order to grow, agencies have to scale and bill you at certain rates and then pay their employees (often very little for the amount of work they ask them to do) or find contractors who can do the work at a lesser rate. A great question for you to ask is: “Who am I going to be dealing with on a regular basis?” Or, a question such as: “How can you ensure that our discussions about strategy will be reflected in the implementation?”
“Tell me about your focus on execution?”
We often say that marketing is 20 percent creative/idea-generation and 80 percent execution. Obviously, the mix changes some depending on the type of work, but execution is really where the rubber meets the road. If you hire an agency that doesn’t execute well or doesn’t implement detail-oriented best practices, your results won’t be as optimized as you probably need. In other words, you can have the greatest strategy in the world, but if you don’t pay attention to those little things, you’re going to lose more people at each stage of the buyer journey – the steps where potential customers become aware of you, engage with you, and eventually convert. A good question to ask: “Tell me how you drive people further down at each stage of the marketing funnel?”
You might wonder why we didn’t cover cost here. Each agency will provide services based on what it thinks the market will bear and the varying circumstances of the work. Obviously, you should try to get the most amount of valuable work you can for least amount of money. Any business would. But you should also just be aware that, inevitably, you will often get what pay for when it comes to marketing as well.
Regardless of whether you choose a marketing agency like us or another agency, we hope this is helpful for you. Our mission at Marketing Nice Guys, after all, is to help businesses and individuals excel in digital marketing. And that’s true even if you go with someone else who is a better fit for what you need. The important aspect is that you do select an agency that can help you advance your particular needs for performance and growth. Learn more about all our consulting and training services or contact us for a free consultation.