Any business that is looking to grow in 2020 or expand into new markets understands the importance of an effective digital marketing strategy and hiring a marketing agency to execute that strategy. From both the strategy development to the execution, your marketing partner is a critical piece of the puzzle. But how do you know which digital agency is right for your business?
There is no formula for hiring a marketing agency, but there are definitely ways to make sure you find a good fit. To start, understand your needs and then try to match them with an agency that can fit those needs.
Here are some of the variables that you need to work through on your end before setting meetings with agencies.
Your Monthly Marketing Budget
Probably the most important aspect for any marketing strategy, is determining your marketing budget. Your monthly spend will dictate the scope of your digital marketing. The reality of any digital strategy is that having a diversified channel approach while maintaining brand consistency is critical. In other words, you need to be everywhere but in a consistent way and your budget helps determine your ability to do that.
Getting more specific, if your budget is on the lower end ($500 – $2,000/month) then you are going to want to find a partner that has experience working with smaller budgets and has a track record of results on these budgets. You might not get the total digital scope or services, but you can focus on the tactics that will help your business grow and then increase your budget accordingly.
You need to be everywhere but in a consistent way and your budget helps determine your ability to do that.
If your budget falls in the middle ($2,000 – $5,000) then you’ll want to find a partner that offers a complete set of digital marketing services and also can efficiently deliver the work that is needed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
If your budget is on the high end ($5,000 and up) then your marketing needs are likely extensive and require a partner that not only delivers exceptional work but also can handle new requests, deliver on-time and turnaround projects quickly.
While the size of a marketing agency is not an indicator of quality, it is an indicator of production capabilities. If you have an immense amount of marketing needs and require a steady stream of fresh content, then a larger agency that can handle such requests is important. However, if you’re a small, local business or a growing multi-location brand (2-10 locations) then a small to medium-sized agency will be able to deliver.
Keep in mind, just because an agency is big, doesn’t mean the work is better. Often larger agencies have sales teams whose job is to sell to new clients. The actual work is handed off to marketers and those are the folks that determine if the work is any good.
If you want to get what you pay for vs. covering overhead costs, smaller agencies are the better way to go.
Finally, larger agencies have much more overhead (sales teams, account managers, etc.) than a smaller agency, which results in higher pricing. If you want to get what you pay for vs. covering overhead costs, smaller agencies are the better way to go.
Event though technology makes it easier to work with an remote agency, the location of your marketing partner is an important factor. While there might be a great agency in another state that can handle your workload, the value of having someone local to you, your business and your audience can’t be quantified.
A local marketer means they understand your market and can “speak the language” of your audience. Having that kind of local knowledge is critical to making your brand relevant. If your brand has locations around the country, having someone local that is able to handle that workload is still a great way to go because the value of face-to-face meetings and check-ins make for a stronger client-agency relationship.
A local marketer means they understand your market and can “speak the language” of your audience.
If you’re responsible for managing your marketing and making marketing decisions, work with someone local. Get to know them and let them get to know you and your brand. This kind of working relationship has a powerful impact on marketing success.
The bigger the agency, the more clients you compete with. If you decide to work with a larger agency, you are now just one of the many clients that the agency is servicing. Managing that relationship effectively becomes harder and harder as an agency grows. Smaller, local agencies have an ability to offer a level of service that just cannot be matched.
Having a marketing partner that offers great personal attention and insight will make your marketing that much more effective.
In the marketing world, service is a key differentiator. There are so many channels, tools and technologies to navigate, having a marketing partner that offers great personal attention and insight will make your marketing that much more effective. Additionally, some smaller agencies are able to work faster because there are fewer touchpoints and stakeholders for a given task or project.
Quality of Work
The most important factor of all is the quality of work and the quality of performance. When assessing agencies to work with, whether big or small, look at the work they actually have done for their clients. To get at the core of their quality here are some things you should do when going through the assessment:
- Request work samples (website, social, ads, etc.)
- Request actual client performance data to see the impact they are having.
- Ask if you can speak with one of their clients.
- Read through the online reviews and testimonials.
- Explore their marketing assets (website, social, videos, etc.) – do they promote themselves well?
When assessing agencies to work with, whether big or small, look at the work they actually have done for their clients.
Overall, treat the process of hiring a marketing agency the same way you would a job applicant. By being thoughtful and taking your time during the process, you can be happy with your ultimate decision. After all, your agency is an important partner and making sure they match up with your wants and needs is absolutely critical.