Hiring a marketing agency is no easy task, especially when everybody says that they’re the best. Talented and well-reviewed professionals are everywhere, so how do you determine who to partner with for your marketing needs?
Instead of hiring the first marketing agency that comes your way, think about what qualities will best fit with your brand. If you don’t map out the working relationship up front, the dynamic can get sloppy, and your marketing investment may not be maximized.
To avoid common problems, you need to ask the right questions when reviewing potential partners. Here are common issues with marketing agencies and questions you can ask to discover potential problems:
Problem 1: Cookie-Cutter Strategic Approaches
Marketing is a creative discipline. What works for one brand may not necessarily work with another. A good agency understands that past experience alone is not enough to execute successful campaigns. Each campaign will have different goals, target markets, and challenges. It will need a custom solution.
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When interviewing agencies, ask questions related to your brand’s specific marketing goals and challenges. How will they help you achieve your marketing goals and overcome your challenges? Do they have previous experiences with challenging situations that they were able to emerge victorious? Make sure they can think outside of the box and architect a custom solution.
Problem 2: Talking More than Listening
Good marketing agencies will ask questions about your brand and desired results. Of course, they’ll take the lead and tell you what needs to be done, but no matter what, they’ll make listening to you the top priority.
Whether you’re communicating with a partner by phone, via email, or in person, make sure that you read between the lines. Are they generally concerned with a positive end result, or are they just going through the motions?
What kinds of questions are they asking you? Are they incorporating your feedback and making an effort to learn about your business? Does the conversation seem to be bi-directional, or is their proposal bombarding you with prepackaged suggestions?
Problem 3: Listening More than Executing
You’ve found an agency with a team of amazing listeners and maybe even a good plan, but can they actually accomplish your goals? If they aren’t able to execute, their thoughtful strategy simply won’t matter.
When interviewing your agency, ask about sample action plans. What is the process and time frame between idea generation and execution? What are past results that the team has achieved for clients? When do they anticipate results to occur?
Problem 4: Consulting Data that’s Superficial or Irrelevant
Vanity metrics will provide information, but they deliver little substance related to the success of a campaign. The fact is that every brand and marketing effort needs custom-tailored analytics. What are you trying to accomplish? What metrics best measure that goal? They don’t need to be complicated, but they need to tell a quantitative story to provide a measurement of success.
Ask your prospective marketing agency to identify metrics that might be a good fit for your desired campaign and how they will be tracked. Have them explain why those metrics are important as well as the story that the data will be communicating.
Problem 5: Overlooking Your Bottom-Line
You’ve found an agency that promises to grow your social media community and quadruple your web traffic through search engine optimization and a customized pay-per-click campaign. So what? How does this result in closed deals?
Your marketing agency needs to be able to demonstrate how their creative efforts will impact your sales effort and ultimately your company’s bottom line. Can their marketing plan generate sales? Is there a plan for a positive ROI.
Choosing a marketing agency is a big decision that will impact your company’s success. Getting meaningful results will take time and money, but you need to make sure that the partner you choose is as committed to your success as you are. Smart agencies will know that when you win, they win.
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