When you meet with a marketing agency for the first time, you need to be prepared. You need to know what your budget is to determine what services you can afford. Equally as important is knowing what your marketing goals are. You can’t measure your success without something to strive towards. Finally, you need to know what services you are seriously considering. If you provide the agency with all this information, they can create a marketing strategy that fits your business’ needs. Knowing this information will also help you decide on the best starting point.
Now that you’ve done the research and gathered all the information the agency will need, you need to consider what you need. When you meet with them for the first time, what questions should you ask to make an educated decision? Your questions will vary based on your industry and the services you’re interested in, but the following questions will serve as a base to get you started.
1. What work have they done in the past?
The best way to judge what anyone is capable of is to see their past work. In the case of a marketing agency, examples may include websites they’ve designed, social platforms they’ve managed, online campaigns, advertisements they’ve designed and much more. A marketing agency can be very versatile, but there is comfort in knowing that they’ve worked with a company similar to your own. However, if they work exclusively in one industry this can be a red flag. If they are unfamiliar with your industry, find out how they will gain the knowledge that they need to help you. Don’t forget to also look at their own website and social media activity.
2. How do they plan on achieving your goals?
Really listen to how they answer this question. Does it sound like a cookie cutter answer that they could give to any company, or have they taken the time to do some research and answer the question specific to the goals you want to accomplish. Also, do they ask you questions in return? If you are meeting with the agency for the first time, odds are they may not have all the information they need to answer this question in detail. It is a good sign if they ask you more questions to fully understand what it is that you want to achieve. This is a good way to tell if they’ll be able to represent your brand name, image and voice.
3. How do they measure success?
Many business owners question whether they should hire a marketing agency because it can be difficult to measure the return on such a big investment. Marketing isn’t an overnight solution. It can take months, even years, to achieve your long term goals. That’s why this question is so important. If they are overly confident, giving numbers that are very near in the future, they may be over selling what they are capable of. What tools do they use and what metrics do they look at? For example, on social media, success may be measured by the number of likes, shares, and views a post receives, but are your sales increasing as your social media platforms flourish? Are your marketing efforts getting customers through your door? Are your marketing strategies converting into leads? Listen to their answers to ensure that they have big picture goals in mind.
4. Who will you be working with on a regular basis?
As mentioned above, it may be awhile before you see returns on your investment. That being said, you will most likely be working with the agency for an extended period of time. You want to make sure that you get along well with their team because the people that you work with on a daily basis have a strong impact on your overall happiness and success. With a larger agency, you don’t want to get tossed around many different people to the point where you lose track of who is doing what. With smaller agencies, this is not an issue because it’s easier to get to know every individual member who will be contributing to your marketing strategy.
5. How frequently will you meet?
It’s very important to set expectations from the very beginning. Some clients like to meet once a month, while others like to meet once every six months. Some people may even prefer to have scheduled calls to discuss progress. Be honest with your expectations. Do you expect the agency to be on call if a question arises, are you very hands-on or do you have no problems handing over the marketing completely? If you are honest, everyone will know what to expect. The important thing to remember is that time is money. If you want to speak with the agency regularly, it will factor into the cost of their services.
6. Which of their services do they suggest to meet your goals?
As the owner of your business, you know what you want. But it’s possible that you may have overlooked a service that will be beneficial to achieving your goals. Once the agency knows what you want to accomplish, they should have a pretty good idea of what your business needs to get there. Just like you researched the marketing agency before meeting with them, they’ve researched your business. Maybe you don’t think your website needs to be updated or redesigned, but they think it’s crucial to your overall strategy. Or maybe you weren’t considering running Facebook Ads, but they think it’s a great way to acquire new followers to convert into customers. Ask them what they think and be open-minded to their suggestions.
7. What will your business be responsible for?
You are hiring a marketing agency to run your marketing efforts, but they aren’t running your business on a day-to-day basis. Because you’re the one on the ground, you may be responsible for collecting marketing materials like photos and testimonials among other types of content. You may need to approve campaigns before they go out and fact check blog posts as well. Knowing what your business will be responsible for will help you set expectations for the future.
8. How will they report on progress?
Marketing is not a set it and forget it process. You need to track the progress of your efforts in order to measure their success. Ask the agency how they plan to report current progress. Will reports be given at every scheduled meeting? Will you have a shared folder of documents where they record progress regularly? Another important thing to be considered is how frequently reports will be updated. Although it is possible to record metrics from the very beginning, you may not understand what your numbers are telling you until you have enough data, and there is no set timeline.
9. Are there any marketing services they don’t do?
This is important to consider because it will save you time in the future. If you want brochures, but the company doesn’t create physical marketing collateral, you may need to outsource that project to someone else, or scrap it from your strategy all together. Be smart and know what you are walking into. If they don’t offer a specific service, ask them how they handle such requests. They may collaborate with another agency that specializes in that area. Ask if you will need to reach out to the other agency directly or if they will handle that for you.
10. What is the next step?
Now that you’ve met and gotten to know one another, ask the agency what the next step is. Many agencies have a set way of doing things and it is best to respect their process. Maybe it’s a marketing strategy that explains how your marketing goals will be met or a proposal that describes each of the services you’ve agreed on and what they will cost. Make sure you fully understand what services will be provided, how much they will cost, when the money will be due, and if there’s a contract to sign. Some agencies have contracts and some don’t. Both options are fine. Ask what’s required to terminate the relationship. If you are happy with they proposal, you can accept.
If you are currently looking to hire a marketing agency, we hope that these questions help you find the right agency for your business. Is there an important question that we missed? If so, let us know in the comments.