February 1, 2023

12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Hiring a Marketing Agency

So, you think it’s time to hire a marketing agency. 

Whether it’s your first time hiring an agency or you’re looking to switch to a new team, there are several things to consider to find the right fit for your needs. While you may not have all the answers to the questions below, the more you know, the easier it will be on you and whichever agency you choose, ending in better results. (These questions will also help you dial in your business at any time.) 

1. Do you have a clear purpose in mind?

This seems like an obvious question, but it’s important. Why are you thinking of hiring a marketing agency now? This will be different at different times in your business—maybe you’re developing a new product and need help to launch it to market. Maybe the focus of your business has shifted, and it’s time for a visual and messaging rebrand. Maybe you want to expand to a new customer base with an awareness campaign. 

2. Do you have clear goals in mind?

What’s the end goal? What’s your desired result? Do you know what you would consider a success? 

3. Do you know who your target audience or customer is?

Again, sounds obvious, but often brands don't have a clear snapshot of their customer or audience profiles. A marketing agency can often help define this but the more concrete customer information you can bring to the start of the agency relationship, the better. 

4. Do you know who you don’t want to target? 

Knowing who isn’t your target audience or who you don’t want to target with your marketing messaging and tactics is just as important as knowing who you’re going after. No product or service appeals to everyone. If you try to attract too broad of an audience, it will backfire. Knowing who you don’t want to target is also helpful when it comes to search marketing, as you can include or exclude certain keywords and audiences to truly hone in on your core target. Specificity is crucial; otherwise you’re wasting ad spend. 

5. Do you have a budget? 

Having an accurate idea of your budget from the beginning will help you narrow down your search for the right agency. Knowing your number from the beginning will mean you don’t waste your time learning more about an agency that ends up being out of your budget. It also helps the agency know what parameters they have to work within and how to provide a package that offers the most value for your budget.    

6. Do you understand what the agency’s capabilities are and do they align with your needs or expectations?

At Belief Agency, for example, we should be your first call when it comes to solidifying your true, authentic voice and key selling points. We’re also excellent at producing branding suites, photo and video content, website designs, copy that converts, SEO optimization, and paid digital marketing strategies…we won’t manage your social media channels (at least with organic posting). We also don’t handle influencer marketing relationships. Alternatively, we know of digital marketing firms that, while they can create your digital designs, won’t design any printed materials. Be aware of the skills you need and how your potential marketing agency fits those needs (or doesn’t).   

7. Do you know how you’re going to measure ROI?

What will you consider a success, and how will you know if or when you’ve reached your goal? How will you track and measure the ROI of your ongoing marketing efforts or a specific campaign? This may be something the agency helps you with—like if they’re creating a campaign that has obvious tracking methods that will affect how the campaign shifts over time, such as search ads or social media posting. If you’re running print ads or a billboard campaign, however, you’ll need to track traction internally, such as listing a dedicated phone number or UTM link in the ads then monitoring engagement.

8. Do you know who your competitors are?

Don’t say the big names. If you’re a local coffee chain, your competitor isn't Starbucks. If you’re an online clothing store, your competitor isn’t Amazon. What other companies, either in your local area, industry price point, or target customer base, are doing something similar to you? And how are you different from them? 

9. Do you own your digital properties/accounts? 

If you’re looking for digital marketing help, including search, display, and social advertising placements, or SEO optimization, it’s crucial to know who has full access to your digital channels. This includes social media accounts, Google Analytics, Google Ads, the backend of your website, your e-commerce or email platform, and more. Whoever has access to these channels will need to then share the correct permissions with your agency. If it’s unclear who’s authorized to share access, it will slow down your agency’s onboarding process. 

10. Do you have a set timeline?

There are two parts to this question—do you have a clear timeline of when you want to start with an agency or a specific campaign? And do you have an end date in mind? Depending on the tasks at hand, some relationships are ongoing while others, particularly for set campaigns, have a finite period of time in which it will be clear if the campaign was successful. If you’re not working on a set campaign, it’s still important to discuss your expected timeline for results with potential agencies to be clear from the beginning about what your expectations are and what their projected deliverables are.  

11. Do you want to collaborate?

Working with a marketing agency is, ideally, a collaborative experience. While you’re hiring an agency to provide expert insight, guidance, and execution, a spirit of collaboration and being on the same team working towards a common goal will strengthen your marketing efforts. Understand that the agency will propose what they believe is best for your business based on their awareness, and then you can help strengthen it with thoughtful feedback.

12. Do you have someone available to manage the agency relationship?

Yes, you’re hiring an agency to help alleviate your workload while also providing a highly specialized service and support from an entire team. But, you’ll still need a dedicated person (or two) from your company to be a point of contact for the agency and manage the relationship. This includes providing company information, access, and approvals, as well as regularly connecting with your agency team to make sure everything is on track.   

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