With so many marketing agencies popping up every year, how can your company know what to look for when you need to outsource your campaigns? Many agencies spend more time hyping themselves up instead of concentrating on driving results for their clients, and it's easy to get attracted to big promises from marketers talking "best case scenarios" in their cool millennial offices. But no matter how big your company is, you're looking for ROI, not empty promises and snazzy marketing lingo. Here's five things you should look for in your next marketing agency that will help you get real results.
1. A focus on you.
Too many agencies want to wow you with their credentials and their corporate culture (wow, a ping-pong table, that's unique...) and refuse to focus on your company and your needs. Yes, it's great that they have no offices, and that they won some award, but what is their plan for your business, right now? Do they wait until 30 minutes have gone by in your meeting to even ask about your marketing needs and what your pain points are? Marketers love to talk and they love to focus on their successes, but those don't do you any good. Look for an agency who is genuinely interested in finding out where you need help and can show you what they will do to turn things around for you.
2. They give you just what you need.
Are you tired of agencies rolling out some pre-heated plan for your business? Every company is unique and has unique strengths and challenges, so getting the same boxed campaign that your competitor has isn't going to set you apart, and won't make a real difference. With the rapid growth of content and inbound marketing around the country, it's not enough to just write blogs, make premium content, and share some stuff on social. You have to do more, and you have to get more from your agency. What can they give you that nobody else can? What is going to be your trademark value that customers can't get anywhere else? Find an agency that can give you good answers to those questions.
3. They practice what they preach.
Too often I see resumes come across my desk from college graduates boasting "social media experience." When I hit up their Twitter account, they've got no followers and haven't tweeted in 18 months. Yes, you've got social media experience, and I'm an architect because I've walked inside a building. Same goes for marketing agencies preaching the miracles of content marketing, but haven't posted a blog for themselves in 6 weeks. One of the reasons our Denver marketing firm is so successful is because we know what works and what doesn't work; we tried all our campaigns out on ourselves! If an agency wants to charge you thousands of dollars a month for a new contract, they should be able to show their work and prove that what they want to do can be successful.
4. They are experts, not know-it-alls
You're looking for a marketing agency because you don't have the time, energy, or knowledge to handle the marketing efforts on your own, but that doesn't mean that you should expect a marketing agency to just take your check and hide away, magically making you show up on the first page of Google and pull in hundreds of leads. The agency should be an expert on the tools and methodology involved, but they should be looking for your input as well. You know the customers you're looking for, you know the subjects the agency will be writing content about, and so there needs to be give and take with you and the agency, as you draw on their expertise, and they shape campaigns around your needs and knowledge. Our most successful campaigns happen when we can work closely with the client to define the personas we are targeting, then they let us go and do the leg work.
5. Real trust
If you're part of a growing company, you get the idea when it comes to the sales pitch. Nobody wants to get suckered in by promises from some vendor or agency or potential employee about how far your business will go if you buy/sign/or hire something or someone. So make sure you ask the tough questions when you get in a meeting with a potential agency partner. If they are worth your time, they'll have answers, and hopefully some tough questions of their own. Agencies don't want to take on clients who don't trust their expertise and won't cooperate with the campaigns they build out, so just like any relationship, you should try to build trust between the agency and your company. It works out better for everyone, in the short and long run.
We've had many clients come to us after dealing with a sub-par agency, and are amazed by our dedication and results because they are used to agencies who are more interested in getting contracts than in getting results. In a sales and marketing world filled with empty promises, you deserve to get what you're promised and finding an agency partner who will work to understand your company, your industry, and your needs. Don't settle for mediocre agencies who don't care about you. If you work extra now to find the right agency, you'll save your company more time, money, and energy than you can imagine.