Whether your internal team is too small or too busy to get everything done, or you have some new products or services that need launching with a big bang, or your current agency is understaffed or falling short of your expectations, you’ve found yourself asking “how do I find a good marketing agency?”.
The good news is there are plenty of marketing agencies out there, ready and willing to give you a hand. The not-as-good news is that your choices are endless and finding the right one could be a daunting task.
So, here are some tips to get you started.
1. Make a short list of marketing agencies
This probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Make sure you have a general idea of the types of marketing services you need. If it’s strictly a one-and-done project, like a new website, there are agencies who specialize in that. And others who focus only on things like Pay-Per-Click or public relations. But most agencies, like ours, offer a full array of marketing services, including strategy, design, and implementation based on your specific needs.
If frequent in-person meetings or keeping your marketing dollars close to home are important to you, consider searching locally or regionally. If not, there are plenty of ways to collaborate with an agency no matter where they reside.
Agency size is also an important consideration. In general, large, big-name agencies will charge higher rates and may not be as nimble. But they have impressive client lists and have done a great deal of high-profile work. A smaller marketing agency will likely have the ability to turn things faster and charge less, but that doesn’t mean they are any less competent than large firms—many are owned and operated by people who left those very firms to start their own.
Another option for narrowing your search is to use an online directory like UpCity, Clutch, The Manifest, and Expertise. Directories like these provide more than just a list of company names and addresses—they include key information about services, staff, and offerings, and include testimonials and sample projects, so you can make quick comparisons without having to weed through dozens of websites.
Your professional and social networks are also a good option for getting referrals. Ask your connections on LinkedIn, check with other members of your trade association or professional organization, or post an inquiry on Facebook or Twitter asking if anyone has worked with a good marketing agency. People love to share their knowledge and talk about their successes.
2. Research and refine what makes them good for you
With your short list in hand, start reviewing websites.
One indicator of how an agency will approach your marketing is how they approach theirs. If they lead with messaging that’s all about them (i.e. “we do this”, “we know that”, “we’ve done these things”), instead of how they approach marketing challenges for their clients, they may not be your best bet.
Why? Because, while it’s important to learn about their experience and expertise, they exist to serve you. Just like you exist to serve your customers. And just like your customers want to know what you can do for them, you want to know what your agency can do for you. That should be the first thing you see when you visit the homepage of a good marketing agency.
Other things to review on their websites include: content they’ve created (that proves they are experts in the areas they claim to be); results they’ve achieved for their clients (not just examples of the pretty things they created); their approach to your marketing challenges (make sure it fits your style); industries they’ve worked with; and client lists if those are important to you.
3. Consider an RFP
RFPs aren’t just for huge corporations—any company can submit them and more should do so. They help you get your head around everything you’ll need from the agency to meet your goals. They help agencies get a clear understanding of what you’re looking for. And they allow you to easily compare your top few agencies in an apples-to-apples scenario. If you need a place to start, here’s a blog we wrote on How to Write a Better RFP and a downloadable worksheet we created on How to Find Your Ideal Agency.
4. Talk to them
Sometimes your gut will tell you everything you need to know about a potential agency partner. Set up a call with them and get a feel for who they are. And let them get a feel for who you are. You’ll connect with some more than others, and those connections you feel are a good indication of your compatibility.
5. It all comes down to this
A good marketing agency is one who looks closely at your situation, gets to know your brand, offerings, and culture, strategizes with you to develop a plan for meeting your goals, partners with you through implementation, and offers insights and recommendations for moving forward.
That shouldn’t be so hard to find, should it? 😉