After having run a marketing agency for a couple years now, there is one definitive task I find myself repeating over and over in the sales cycles I’m involved in; cleaning up previous messes. When I’m pitching Socialistics, I’m often left with business owners that have been burned when it comes to marketing which makes my job much more difficult. Not only do I have to convince them of working with us, but in many cases, I’m having to re-educate the importance of marketing as a whole to their business. I don’t blame them. If they haven’t experienced ROI in their previous partnerships, why would they?

The #1 one thing a business owner or decision maker should be looking for in the early stages of looking for a marketing agency is whether that agency leads with a prescriptive or diagnostic approach. If it’s not the latter, look elsewhere.

Why A Prescriptive Approach Is Wrong

When you go to a doctor, do they lead with a variety of medicines for you to choose from? Of course not. For a doctor to properly do their job, they need to know what issues you are and have been experiencing, and the symptoms they have caused. It’s no difference in business. A marketing agency that leads with things like Facebook likes, Twitter followers, web traffic, lead gen, etc. is an agency destined to fail you.

The Diagnostic Approach Is What You’re Looking For

In order for a marketing agency to truly be the right partner, they need to take the time to understand the history of your business, what’s worked, what hasn’t, the results (or lack of), and what your goals and objectives are. Filling out a form or a 30 min call isn’t enough to get there. An agency needs to commit to taking the time, asking the right questions, and digging to deliver a customized strategic and tactical plan for your business. They don’t see you as a client, they see you as a partner. They want to be a true extension of your business and are committed to going deeper than surface level metrics.

The good news, when you find an agency that does it right, you’ll know. A good question to ask yourself in the pre-qualifying stages is, “Does it feel like this agency is already working for me?”. If the answer is yes, you’re on the right path.