The Business Owners Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Marketing Agency

June 11, 2019
by Deanitra Kuminka

Which scenario applies to you?

  • You’re the founder and just don’t have the capacity anymore to handle running your business and the marketing details. You’ve been a champ up until now, but there is only so much of you to go around.
  • You’re looking to expand your reach and increase your client base and at a loss of where to start.
  • You once had a single employee handling marketing but seeing limited results. Maybe a collaborative hive of ideas is the answer?
  • You’re not getting the results you expected from your current agency, and you’re looking to shake things up and try something and someone new.

To get you started on the path of a new marketing campaign, here are a few things to start to prepare yourself prior to talking with marketing agencies:

Know What You Want (or know enough to get started)

At least have some ideas floating around your head. Even if you want the agency to take things over, remember that this is your business and YOU are the subject matter expert. You know where your clients are and where they are active, so have that ready to present to the agency.

What kind of reach are you thinking? Do you need a single BAM to blast out, announcing a special event? Do you want to appear much larger than you actually are? Do you want to have the reputation of being a trusted resource of expertise? Do you want to buy your way to the top (you can actually do this)? There are several marketing options to achieve these differently.

Know Your Competition

If you’ve done a strategic plan for your business (if not, see our blog: Corporate Marketing Strategy vs. Business Strategy), you probably benchmarked your company to your competitors. Have you done this with marketing efforts yet? This will not only confirm that your prior efforts were on target, but it also might suggest some untapped areas not even considered yet. A good marketing agency will propose a strategy for you. However, any information you can provide them at the beginning will be especially helpful.

Have a Budget in Mind and an Idea of What to Expect

In other words, be an informed consumer. It’s like going to a car dealership saying you can afford a monthly payment of $X without stating what your needs are and have no clue about the current prices. If X is a big number, the salesman might proceed to take you straight to the most expensive car on the lot without asking you more about your needs and desires of this vehicle. A predatory marketing agency might do the same thing and leave you spending more than you had to on results that miss the target. Knowing the ballpark of the cost will prevent you from being taken advantage of.

Start Shopping

Being prepared will help you to pinpoint the perfect extension of your business. There is an abundance of agencies out there that can intimidate the faint at heart. Before you spin the “Wheel of Google,” we suggest:

Ask around

Is there a business you work with that had really impressive marketing? Ask them who they use and how to contact them. It’s a great compliment to that business and their agency (or internal team), and they love to hear about it as much as you would. On the other hand, if you see some marketing that is sub-par, it wouldn’t hurt to know who to avoid, either.

Specialty niche agencies

Some businesses models are big enough to warrant an area of specialty. These might be coined as ‘boutique agencies,’ and worth looking into.

Perhaps that agency once worked in that business field and has strong business acumen. This can work to your advantage, for they can fill in gaps to your audience and strategies.

Some agencies specialize in small businesses or startups, with a keen knowledge of boosting up their clients’ visibility and developing a strong reputation.

Some agencies specialize in certain types of media, too. One might be all about video and television, while others concentrate on a digital presence. For some businesses, a combination of the two may be necessary. With that in mind, the decision is to go with an all-in-one agency or invest in two areas of expertise.

Get references

You can start by looking at online reviews, but that’s not your only resource. A successful agency is happy to supply you with satisfied customers happy to sing their praises. When speaking to these companies, ask some specific questions.

  • How long before you saw noticeable results or experienced ROI?
  • What is the process for deliverables?
  • How is the team to work with?
  • What do they excel at?
  • Was there ever a time of dissatisfaction – and was it resolved?

Talk with the team

If you can get an opportunity to speak with a couple of team members that you would be interacting with, you can see if your personalities complement each other.

When To Walk Away 

Just as there are things to entice you to do business with an agency, there are a few red flags to consider as you are shopping for that perfect fit of an agency:

Unable to set expectations

Your candidates should be able to set expectations of what to expect from their own track record. Ask them directly how many leads (percentage or hard numbers) you should expect with their campaign. They should at least be able to give you a ballpark window.

No references to offer

They are either brand new or have not delighted a customer enough for them to share. Either should be taken into careful consideration before proceeding.

Unfavorable reviews or reputation

To be fair, look at more than the first few up there if you notice something negative. One disgruntled customer can unfairly overshadow dozens of glowing reviews. At the same time, it’s worth asking about when you talk with them.

They aren’t using their own resources

Do they have a blog with business success or marketing ideas? Is it posted regularly? Can you see an example of their utilization of every service they offer? Sign up for their email list and see how that looks. Check their ranking in Google, too. If they are good, they should stick out, right?

How Can We Help? | The Business Owners Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Marketing Agency

Joseph Studios is a leading boutique marketing agency, officially based in Atlanta, GA. Our diverse team of professionals collaborates across the world, from Colorado to Italy and many places in-between. We are at your service to meet every detail of organic marketing, our area of expertise. Now that you know what to look for and what to expect, we hope to be at the top of the list of agencies to boost your presence and be regarded as a trusted resource in your line of expertise.


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