Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a start-up struggling to make it through your first year, odds are, multiple marketing agencies approach you regularly. You may not be ready to invest in marketing, or you’ve gotten “enough” business through referrals. Maybe you’ve been burnt by an agency before and are afraid to waste more money (fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me). Unfortunately, the latter happens far too often.
So why are there so many “bad” marketing agencies in the marketplace? Let’s say you burst a pipe in your home. If you don’t have a plumber in your network already, you can run a quick search online and call a licensed plumber to get the job done. Yes, some plumbers are better than others, but any licensed plumber will get the job done. Similarly, if you’re having back problems, you can quickly find a licensed chiropractor in your area and book an appointment. Not all chiropractors are the same, but they’re all qualified to help you. What if you’re looking for marketing services? Therein lies the problem. No certification exists to qualify someone as an expert marketer. Pretty much anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can claim to be qualified to market your business.
A salesperson can convince you they have all the answers, but how can you separate the agencies that are good at marketing from the ones just good at selling? Here are some characteristics that all of the best firms share:
1. They ask the right questions.
Too many agencies focus on selling you instead of learning about your business. We all know what marketing is, how pay-per-click advertising works, and that social media can increase your online presence and overall sales. The best agencies want to understand your business before they pitch you a marketing campaign. They want to know what you stand for, why you do what you do, and who your ideal buyer is (i.e., age, gender, line of business). How are you currently making sales? Where do you see the most success? All of this information is critical for putting together the best marketing strategies for your ROI.
2. They adapt.
The best agencies have the resources and experience to act with agility at a fast rate. They can pivot quickly, reacting to both successes and failures to continue to grow. There is no “one-size-fits-all” marketing strategy. Top agencies continually customize your campaigns to provide you with strategies that make the most sense for you and your business.
3. They understand B2B vs. B2C.
The type of marketing that works for your business depends on your business. There is no one magic bullet. Top agencies understand the difference between marketing to other business versus consumers and marketing products versus services. If this isn’t clear to you when considering an agency, move on.
4. They evolve.
The algorithms operating Facebook, Google, and YouTube (to name a few) are always changing. Strategies that may have worked in Q1 might need to be modified to maintain effectiveness in Q2. Your marketing agency should be aware of these changes and be able to adapt accordingly. Adapting may even mean pausing an underperforming ad campaign to avoid wasting marketing dollars.
5. They have clearly defined expectations.
When it comes to how your market dollars are spent and the results, there’s no need to fly blind. There are no guarantees in marketing, but a good agency will be able to provide you with insights based off of what your competitors are doing, your target market, and your cost per customer acquisition. They will be able to provide a timeline of expectations based on the information they gather from you during discovery and forecast the results of their campaigns. Top agencies want to succeed with you and build a relationship based on both transparency and results.
6. They share your vision of growth.
To successfully market your business, an agency must understand your business. Not only where you are today, but where you want to go in the future. Let’s say you’re a real estate agent. Is your long term goal to build a business and hire other agents, or would you prefer to operate as a sole proprietor, managing all closings by yourself without having to manage payroll? The direction you see yourself going influences the strategies and platforms that an agency will use to promote you and your business. Furthermore, an agency must understand not only what you do, but why you do it. What is your business all about?
If you are looking to grow your business by hiring an outside marketing agency, be sure to do your homework. The right company can completely transform your business. When you find the right agency, you’ll wish you hired them sooner.