When you’re choosing a marketing agency, it’s vital to make the right decision the first time. Having to unwind the relationship, step back, and start over could set your marketing plan back by a year or more.
To get it done right, start with these questions:
1) What is their experience in your industry? Are they willing to learn?
Industry experience is one of the strongest assets a marketing agency can offer.
Your industry, products, positioning, and location shape what you do in countless ways. The winning move for an e-retailer won’t work for a small medical practice or other service-based business. What makes sense for an Amazon-level budget could flip a small firm’s balance sheet upside down.
Ideally, the marketing agency you choose should have a years-long track record of success in your own industry. The team should be able to communicate clear lessons learned from their past engagements.
2) Do they listen? Are you learning anything from them in return?
The best marketing agency around still doesn’t know it all. Your business came from your unique talents, skills, and goals – so there’s nothing quite like it, even within your industry. There’s always something for marketing agencies to learn from their clients.
Even if they’ve launched hundreds of similar businesses to success, your agency partner should always listen to what you have to say. That’s true no matter whether you’ll be a headliner in your marketing or stick to strategy behind the scenes. Your brand should be infused with your perspective.
Of course, you don’t know digital marketing inside and out – and you shouldn’t have to. That’s where the other half of the equation comes in: A seasoned marketing team should have the ability to illuminate complex topics and explain the rationale behind each decision.
Over time, you should feel like you’re gaining insight that will serve you well in the future.
If all you’re getting is an occasional email or end-of-month report, something is wrong.
3) Is this company actually local? How much do they outsource, and where to?
To prevent smaller businesses from having to go toe-to-toe with global enterprises, most of today’s search engine optimization focuses on a local area. Most of your business will come from a radius of about 30 miles around your office, and your initiatives should be designed with that in mind.
This “near me effect” is great for connecting you with an audience that’s ready and eager to hear what you have to say. But it also works on the other side of the table: Entrepreneurs tend to seek out a local marketing partner. Knowing the local area helps you craft a brand voice that fosters deeper trust.
Digital marketing can happen anywhere, any time, all around the world, so don’t assume the whole production chain is centered where the brand is based. Before you sign on the dotted line, find out whether freelancers are used and for what – and what processes are in place to ensure quality.
4) How much of their plan is advertising?
Hint: It should be less than 100%.
The biggest secret about online advertising is this: You can’t do advertising without marketing. Unless you have a solid base of marketing content set up, the odds of converting that extra traffic into sales are zero. Not low. Zero. It’s something to introduce six months into a plan, never on Day 1.
For many smaller companies, online advertising is pure overhead. It saps your ability to commit to areas that offer long-term, lower-cost gains. And the use cases for it are shrinking fast. When marketers push advertising first, it shows a lack of imagination. They are simply “hoping for the best.”
You deserve – and need – better.
5) Most importantly… Is this a team you can trust?
Just like hiring a roofer, a lawyer, or a real estate broker, you shouldn’t go forward with an agency until you’ve had a real conversation. That might be face-to-face or over video chat, but it should be full and far-ranging. Trust starts with a willingness to listen to you and the ability to give full, substantive answers to your questions. If you’re not satisfied, there are always others out there who’ll be glad to help you.
At New York Ave, we understand that a marketing partnership is a commitment. You need to like and trust the people you’re working with – and they need to validate that trust by bringing the goods each and every month. Contact us to get started with a marketing agency you can rely on.