You run your own business, you’ve got a couple of employees and business is going ok. But truth is, you’d like it to be going a bit better. You’re thinking about hiring a marketing agency, but you’re just not sure.
Well firstly, congratulations! It’s a big step to let someone in to your business, especially if you’ve started it from the ground up. And when the marketing world seems so foreign, using words like SEO, social media platforms, content marketing, B2C, touch points, PMS colours and target demographics, it can seem overwhelming.
But I say well done, because you’ve taken the first step in investing in your business’ future. And the best part of that is that is it frees you up to get on with the things you do best in your business.
So, now that you’ve decided to hire a marketing agency, what is it that you need to look for? How do you know who to trust?
Some things to consider:
Obviously price is important for any business, but remember to compare apples with apples. Hourly rates may be similar, but ask your agency what is included in that price. Does the quote include account management and unlimited phone access with them? Will the account manager travel to your place of business and is that travel cost included? At what point do you go on the clock? Will they give you a quote for specific jobs with all inclusions (project management, design, images, printing, postage)?
If you’re not sure what you want or need marketing wise (which is totally OK as, let’s face it, I’m sure the marketing agency wouldn’t know exactly what building materials they’d need if they wanted an office extension), then transparency is an important aspect to look for. So ask them how they operate, how the pricing works and what kind of service they offer. But remember this works both ways. Be honest with them and let them know what budget you’ve got to work with and what you’re looking to get out of your marketing. First impressions are usually right, so trust your instincts and if you feel like they’re holding anything back and not being upfront then it might be time to look at another agency.
You may not have thought that safety was something to keep an eye out for, but I’d like to challenge you on that. Perhaps in a different way though. I suggest that you should look for an agency that doesn’t always play it safe. As William G.T. Shedd said, “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for”. Look for an agency that is innovative and prepared to look at things a little differently. While it’s good, and often necessary, to stick to safe and traditional forms of marketing, when you want to stand out you may need to do things a little differently. So ask your agency what they do to keep abreast of new trends, how they keep creativity and innovation alive and what their breadth of experience includes.
Owning and running a business can be tough. There are peaks and troughs and sometimes forecasts don’t always pan out, or something unexpected crops up that you didn’t budget for. So look for flexibility in a marketing agency. Someone that can ride the rollercoaster with you and be available when it suits your business. Not all agencies are prepared to commit to your business when the work can be so intermittent, so ask the question and find that one that will!
Investing in marketing might seem like a big step, but basically it means to you’re investing in your customers. You’re taking the time to make sure that the people that need or want your products or services know about your business.
And like any investment throughout your life, take your time, do your research and choose wisely!