The new year has started. And if you’re like any other professional or business owner, you probably take some time to review your business goals and reassess different strategies and budgets. Your marketing is an important part of this puzzle …
Perhaps you are considering increasing your marketing efforts by hiring an agency. Or maybe you’re not completely satisfied with your current marketing business.
Whether you work for an SME, a large business, or a non-profit organization, you will want to answer the million dollar question:
How can I choose the right marketing agency that will give me the best return on investment for my marketing dollars?
We will answer this question by analyzing it on several levels:
1 – Will the agency work with me to establish and achieve the company’s objectives?
Each deliverable and each action should relate to your overall business objectives. Ask the agency how it will link marketing activities to site traffic, lead generation and revenue.
2 – Who are its former customers?
If you look at some of the agency’s work and notice that all of its clients have been B2B manufacturing companies, you might want to know more. Not to say that agencies cannot be extremely versatile, it makes sense to analyze the impressions of former clients in the same industry as you. At the same time, watch out for agencies that work exclusively in one sector – they may have conflicts of interest with your competitors.
See if you can find a case study or blog post with one of their loyal customers, and ask if the agency will really be relevant to your needs. If she hasn’t had a job in your industry recently, find out how she will gain the knowledge she needs in relation to your industry, your income and your sales goals.
3- What did you like about the last company you worked with, and which ones did you not like?
If this is not your first rodeo, analyze why you are looking for a new agency. Study the positives and negatives of your experience, and be honest about the kind of results you want to have with this new agency.
Offers and capacities
4 – How will the agency measure the success and ROI of marketing expenses?
If you see marketing as a giant black hole where your business spends thousands of dollars every year, this question is particularly obvious. It can take months to test what works and then multiply the results, but the agency must be able to demonstrate the return on investment of marketing campaigns and ad spend.
5- Is it a one-stop agency for all your marketing and web design needs, or is it specialized in PPC ads?
One of the most important factors to consider is the different services that an agency provides. Each agency is better in some areas than others, which prompts you to get an idea of what your business needs to make sure it is the right profile.
The few capabilities that are important to consider include:
- The creation of websites;
- Web development;
- Website hosting;
- Logo and brand creation;
- Digital marketing and inbound marketing;
- The video ;
- The writing of texts;
- Search engine optimization (SEO);
- Social media strategy;
Working with an agency that can scale with you can be a huge benefit. As your marketing budget increases and you strive to compete in a digital world, can you add video to your website without needing to hire another company? Or blow up your social media strategy without having to hire someone in-house?
Another benefit of all-encompassing organizations is that branding, web design, video and digital marketing all go together in a coherent fashion.
Make sure the different offerings and capabilities of the agency match your company’s short and long term goals.
6- How much of the work will be outsourced?
A marketing company could offer web design, but these designs will be outsourced. Or is there an art director and a design team among the staff? It’s okay to outsource some missions, but if you’re reorganizing your company’s website or doing a complete rebranding, it’s much more comforting to know that there are experienced designers or web developers on the team.
Get to know the team
7- Who will you work with regularly?
You probably know from your different experiences that the people you work with have a huge impact on your happiness and success. When you hire a marketing agency, you basically get new teammates. From marketing to producing concrete results, the typical minimum retention is 8 to 12 months. Make sure these new colleagues are good people you look forward to collaborating with and communicating next year or more! Start by checking the agency’s website (if available). When you get there, ask if you can meet some of the team members who might be working on your project.
8- Does the team correspond to the personality of my company?
You want to work with a company that has values similar to yours. But will your colleagues be fun and friendly or cold and analytical? Maybe a bit of both, which can add to your own corporate culture.
Marketing tools and software
9 – What marketing software are they specialized in?
If you’re already using marketing automation software and aren’t interested in the change, find out if the agency has experience on a particular platform. For my part, for example, I use Leadfox which is software marketing automation all-in-one (email, Landing Page, Pop-up, CRM, automation, Dashboard and report).
10 – What project management tools do they use?
Now that you know what type of work it does and who does the work, it’s time to take a look at how to do it. All tools and software are not created in the same way. There are for example asana for project management and file sharing. It streamlines the communication process between team and clients – which is important because you want your agency to use your budget for actual marketing work and not 50% project management.
11 – How will I organize myself?
Most of us wonder if our agency will be available to answer our calls and emails, but what about the time you have to devote to designs and content? Hiring an agency therefore requires a little account management on your part.
When you’re too busy approving projects and accomplishing your missions, there may be someone on your team that you trust who can handle most of the communications.
12 – How often will we meet?
The tools and software used play an important role in how they manage your account and report on progress. That said, some clients like to have a meeting once a week, others assume it is a formal meeting just once a month. Be honest with yourself: will you need someone to answer your call if you have questions on a regular basis? Or do you feel comfortable handing over the implementation of the strategy to the agency team, and verifying everything with a bi-weekly call only?
Communicate your expectations from the start so the agency can put together a team and schedule that meets your needs.
13 – What is the format of these meetings?
If you’re close enough to the agency to have occasional face-to-face meetings, that’s definitely a bonus. If not, can you hold meetings by phone or by videoconference? Not everyone wants to commute every week or every two weeks for a meeting with their agency.
Understanding the contract and the proposal
14 – What is included each month with this contract?
The contracts of different organizations vary, and it is essential for you to be aware of the expected deliverables. Does your contract for a bi-monthly digital marketing campaign include an offer, four blog posts, social media promotion, and an automated email workflow?
You have to know what to expect so that your project stays within your reach, and there will be no surprises along the way.
15 – How long should my contract last?
With inbound marketing and content marketing, you’re not likely to get feedback for 3 to 6 months. An agency should be able to understand your business and launch your marketing campaigns, but it can take time to see substantial results – so don’t give up after the first month if you don’t get a return. If you need results on the first day, consider spending some paid advertising budget.
In order to provide you with a solution that focuses on the ROI of the business, an agency must have a complete view of the market, and both of you must be committed to the long-term goals of your business.
Another important point is that many businesses are seasonal. Therefore, a 3 month contract is not going to give you a very good idea of the expected results. If you’re a large New England construction company, for example, your website isn’t going to pull as many leads in winter as it does in spring.
I hope you find these questions helpful in guiding you to a successful and collaborative relationship with your next marketing agency. And don’t hesitate to ask us any of these questions if you have any!