You’ve decided to tap into the flexibility and expertise of an agency to look after your marketing needs. Great decision – but the next step is to work out which agency is going to be best for you in terms of producing the tangible results for your business that this investment requires.
What to look for in a marketing agency
A full-service marketing agency is a great option as not only will it support your marketing needs now, it will have the expertise and agility to provide marketing work in other areas, should your requirements change. However, if you have identified a very specific marketing need, then choosing a niche agency can work very well too. For example, if you need to work on improving your Google rankings an SEO agency will fit the bill or if you want to raise your profile as an industry expert, a PR agency will be a great choice.
However, when identifying your marketing needs, it’s always useful to take a step back and get an agency’s take on what those needs actually are. As the owner of your business of course you are going to have an informed insight into what needs to be done in terms of marketing, but before you get too attached to a plan of action ask yourself this:
- Do you know how your planned method of marketing can deliver your desired business goals?
- Could there be an alternative or additional way of using marketing to improve your ROI – perhaps one you are currently unaware of?
Ideally, any marketing agency you approach will be willing to discuss your goals, challenges and current marketing activity to give expert advice tailored to your business on a free, no-obligation basis.
No matter what kind of agency you choose, it’s important to look for one that will recommend marketing that will benefit your business, rather than one with an agenda of pushing certain services to all clients.
Remember, when it comes to marketing, one size does not fit all.
What will it cost?
While the mantra of ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true for marketing as it does for every business, that doesn’t mean that costs won’t vary. Generally, you can expect to pay more for the services of London agencies. SME marketing agencies who mainly cater for SME businesses should have a pricing policy that reflects that.
Costing and terms will vary, but many agencies will offer the option to work with clients on a monthly retainer or for one-off projects. Occasionally one-off projects are the way to go, for example if you need a specific job doing such as building a website. However, a retainer is usually the best way to see the long-term and sustained results a targeted marketing strategy should bring.
Many agencies are happy to work on one-off projects on top of retainer time. If you are worried about being locked into a retainer, speak to the agency about terms as many will be willing to work on a fairly short notice period should you need to end the arrangement for any reason.
No matter what your agency’s pricing structure is, value for money is key. As well as sending regular progress reports on your marketing, your agency should also be providing you with data on how the time on your account has been spent.
Does an agency need to know what my business is all about?
If an agency has prior experience working with businesses in the same sector as you that’s great as it means they will have experience of the best channels to speak to your prospective customers through and the type of messaging that is likely to attract them.
That said, it’s important to remember that you are the expert in your business and the agency are the experts in marketing. When these two things come together it’s not essential that the agency you choose has specific experience in your sector. Rather than focusing on specific sector experience it’s far more important to see evidence of testimonials from other happy clients, even if those clients specialise in other areas.
Location, location, location?
One common concern is whether it’s important for an agency to be local to the clients it represents. In the post-pandemic era, many businesses are operating in ways that would have seemed unimaginable a short time ago. Also, more and more professionals are open to working with agencies who encourage remote working from any location and may even be premises-free.
Rather than focussing on a local bricks and mortar presence, try to establish whether the agency in question has a strong local network and knowledge of the business community. Also, while video conferencing is part of normal life now, it’s certainly beneficial to work with an account manager who will be available for face-to-face meetings as and when they are needed.
Getting the chemistry right
To get the results you need from your agency, you need to be able to work together harmoniously to produce the results needed. This is an obvious point, but it’s so important to make sure your ethos aligns with the agency you choose and that they will be inspired by the energy and expertise you have for your business.
The size of the agency isn’t a dealbreaker, but SME businesses tend to be a good fit for SME marketing agencies as the company culture is likely to be similar and they are likely to specialise in businesses like yours. Larger agencies may feel like they have more to offer in experience and scope, but it’s important to ensure that if you represent a smaller account to them, you won’t fall down the pecking order in terms of their priorities.
Find out more about the benefits marketing can bring to your business
Here at the Ideal Marketing Company, we offer a free no-obligation marketing consultation to give you recommendations based on your goals and challenges.
Louise is an experienced and versatile copywriter whose passion is bringing any subject to life through the written word. She thrives on using her imaginative approach to identify and implement exciting PR opportunities for clients. A career spent coming up with creative content for tight deadlines in consumer magazine journalism and PR means Louise doesn’t know the meaning of the term ‘writer’s block!’