Hiring the best full service marketing agency for a particular business presents challenges. Learn the in’s and out’s of finding the best marketing partner.
According to Statista, businesses can choose between over 13,000 marketing agencies in the U.S. All together, these advertising agencies help their clients invest billions in marketing. While having choices should benefit companies that need to find the best marketing partner, the number of marketing firms can make the selection process daunting.
10 suggestions to find the best full service marketing agency partner
To help find the best full service marketing agency, consider these tested tips from successful companies.
1. Define business goals and the company mission
Knowing what they need to accomplish and how they want people to see them provides a signpost that can help direct all kinds of decisions. Sadly, many companies get the idea they need to market online. Then they plunge into it without truly defining what they hope to accomplish with their investment.
Marketers need goals before they can develop metrics to measure success. Without them, they may simply judge progress by such fuzzy metrics as getting a lot of fans and followers on a social site. While inexperienced marketers may take that as a sign they’re attracting an audience, a large audience doesn’t always mean a company has achieved such essential goals as improving brand recognition or revenue.
Businesses don’t always have to know exactly which platforms or resources to use in order to accomplish their goals. A good marketing agency should take the time to understand their clients and provide direction. However, they need to communicate what they hope to achieve. So, a business not only needs to define their mission and goals; they also need to find a marketing partner that pays attention to them.
2. Decide between a local vs. national firm
Of course, the internet can open up national or even global marketplaces for businesses. In some cases, a national firm may have more resources and reach. Also, marketing firms don’t need to have their physical offices located near the business to communicate or collaborate.
On the other hand, a “Sunshine State” business may benefit by choosing a Florida advertising agency that already employs talent who really understands the community and even the geography. For instance, people in an Orlando marketing agency will know there’s more to the city than just Disney World.
In addition, companies with headquarters in other states or even countries might benefit from using local agencies in new markets when they hope to expand into that region. Even more than local knowledge, hometown marketing companies typically have local connections that can provide lots of value.
3. Consider the company’s personality, culture, and values
According to advice from the University of Southern California, establishing a brand personality lies at the core of generating brand loyalty. A description of the company’s character gives customers a reference that they can relate to on a personal and emotional level.
That’s why the best marketing campaigns don’t just sell services or products. They also reflect well upon a company’s overall image. It helps to work with a marketing partner that understands these important business characteristics and can align with them because they have similar values.
4. Look for firms with the right staff and resources
Businesses don’t just have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a marketing agency. These days, marketers also need to decide between a large selection of promotional methods. These include digital and offline media, including paid ads, content marketing, social sites, podcasts, print, radio, TV, trade shows, sponsorships, and so on.
Moreover, marketing plans might include these steps and more:
- Audience research
- Creating and tracking metrics and analytics
- SEO and web platform development
- Content production and optimization for text, videos, audio, and graphics
- Social media development and management
- Influencer marketing
- Email marketing
- Loyalty and referral program development
- Paid ads for a variety of online or offline platforms
- Packaging design
Generally, marketers need to stay within budgets while selecting the right steps for their marketing plans, making certain every channel works together to support overall goals, and of course, tracking results. A full service marketing agency needs to understand all of the options, keep up with current trends, and of course, know how to demonstrate results. And they need to do that within their client’s budget.
Businesses also need to take care that they don’t choose a marketing firm that only has expertise in a few methods because those firms may have biases that won’t always produce the best returns. A full service marketing agency can deploy the right expertise and give suggestions based upon their client’s needs and not their own preferred niches.
5. Make sure the marketing firm keeps up with marketing trends
While some old-school marketing tactics still work very well, others have declined in effectiveness either because the audience has declined or simply because the ad platform worked well and then grew very competitive. As an example, few advertisers can enjoy profiting off the penny clicks on Google that they could have found years ago. At the same time, new opportunities always arise, and it’s vitally important for marketing firms to keep up with innovation.
As an example, radio audiences have declined dramatically in the past decade; however, podcasts may provide a growing source of targeted and engaged listeners for audio ads. Businesses need to make sure they hire a marketing firm that understands both traditional media and keeps up with new ones.
6. Find a company that knows how to use marketing technology to work efficiently
Technology probably won’t replace creative people soon. At the same time, businesses can benefit by employing marketing technology that can help them perform a variety of jobs efficiently, such as research or performing tedious scheduling tasks. Companies should look for marketing firms that understand technology and know how to use it to keep costs down, reduce errors, and improve profits.
7. Investigate the marketing firm’s transparency
If the first encounter with the firm uncovers a website with no mailing address or phone number, consider that a big, red flag. During these times, lots of qualified professionals may work remotely from home; so it’s not that a company necessarily needs to have a fancy office downtown. At the same time, businesses have to avoid thinking they have, for instance, employed a local agency when they have really contracted with an overseas sweatshop.
Of course, transparency should extend to all aspects of business, including methods, reporting, and collaboration. It’s just that catching obvious red flags in the beginning can help companies save time as they search for the best marketing agency for their needs.
8. Research experience and ask for examples of past work
Most experienced marketing firms will take the trouble to promote past successes from a variety of clients, so it’s a good sign to see some case studies or even client logos on the marketing firm’s website. Even so, ask for references to ask past clients what parts of the process went well and which could have worked better. In addition to references the marketing agency supplies, search for reviews on third-party sites.
In the best case, a business should look for examples of clients with businesses that have qualities similar to their own company. For instance, the companies might work in the same kind of industry, have locations in the same geographical area, or simply have similar business goals.
9. Discuss budgets
Naturally, every business has a set budget for their marketing projects and campaigns. Bring this topic up early to ensure that the marketing agency can work with the size of budget allocated for their work. Remember that costs will include the marketing firm’s efforts and any expenses that various advertising platforms may generate for sponsorships, paid ads, and so on. Don’t be afraid to ask to run a test project before committing the entire budget.
10. Ensure the marketing firm displays commitment to their clients
Probably most important, the marketing agency should consider themselves partners to their clients. When their customers do well, so do they. Exploring this final step can also cover a lot of the other bases because committed marketing firms are most likely to avoid biases, try to work efficiently, and devote their attention both to innovative trends and their client’s business.
Why take the time to investigate a variety of marketing firms
A business should find nothing easier than coming up with a list of marketing firms that want to serve them. Even in some local areas, they may find dozens or even hundreds of listings. Judging by the number of businesses that switch marketing partners because of dissatisfaction over their experience, finding the best marketing partner presents more challenges. Businesses need to take time to vet any marketing partners they might consider.