What to Consider When Hiring an Agency in 2017

By: Katie Stout

Digital Marketing Strategist


Honestly, almost anyone can plan and execute their own marketing campaigns in nearly every avenue of marketing given enough time. No longer are the secrets of the trade shrouded in mystery and only accessible by those who have experience in the industry. However, even with all the information at your fingertips, you might not be able to invest the time or have the knowledge and experience to understand what success is. That’s where marketing agencies come in.

Agencies offer the ability to keep you focused on what you do best, while still growing your company. Whether you need a little bit of help with a project or you want a partner to take the lead on your overall marketing plan, hiring an agency could be the answer.

What Value Does an Agency Bring To Your Company?

The very first step to choosing an agency is outlining your expectations. Without this step it will be extremely difficult to be matched with the right agency. A few questions you should be able to answer are:

  • What do you struggle with in marketing? (Be honest). Do you lack the time, knowledge, creative skill or strategy?
  • How will you define success? The answer shouldn’t be “get as many sales as possible.” Dive deeper.
  • Do you need help with a single aspect of a campaign, a small project, or are you looking to have the agency take the lead on your overall marketing strategy?
  • What amount of time can you dedicate to the project and what kind of time commitment will you need from the agency?
  • Do you have an expectation of turn around time?

Shop Around

Once you have a better idea of exactly why you are looking for an agency, you can start shopping around for the best fit. The best place to start looking is where you would like to be found. If you are looking for an agency that is going to improve your social media presence, you should make sure they should have a good social media presence themselves.

Armed with a long list of potential agencies that you know are capable of executing the tactics you are looking to incorporate into your marketing mix, you can now start to chip away at which one would produce exactly what you need.

  • What is their range of services?
  • Do they have a specialty and does that fit with what you are looking to do?
  • How large are their current clients compared the size of your company?
  • What certifications do they have?
  • What awards have they won?
  • Have they done pro-bono work and what is the quality of that work?

Sit Down and Chat

Arguably the most critical step in the process of choosing an agency is sitting down with the company and talking through what you are hoping to get out of the partnership and seeing if they could meet all of those expectations. Think of these meetings as job interviews. The objective of the agency across from you is to win your business.

You want to understand the agency’s approach and how they work. Just like a job interview, ask for specific examples of how the agency solved problems, and make sure their answers have real outcomes. They should be able to walk you through their “resume” or body of work and explain the entire process to you. Of course, they are going to present the best version of themselves to you, so it is your job to ask the hard-hitting questions to get the most honest answers.

  • Was the initial timeline met? Why or why not? Were there any roadblocks and how did your team react to those?
  • What was the most challenging aspect of a specific project or campaign?
  • What did your team learn from a failure and how did it impact your other clients?
  • How has your team dealt with issues in communication?

Going through this process might seem long, difficult and unnecessary, but you will be working with the agency you choose for at least several weeks. You won’t just be paying them for their time, but they may be making decisions with your money as well. Spending the time to find the perfect agency now will give you a business partner that you can call on for any marketing efforts you might want to try in the future. Choose wisely.

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