Many of us have been there. You’re in a great relationship (real parent material, this one), and you’ve decided to take the next step to grow that relationship. You’ve decided to have a baby! Except by baby, we mean that you’ve decided to hire a marketing agency!
Which is kind of like having a baby…
Alright–this analogy is falling apart quickly. Let’s get into what you can expect when working with a marketing agency.
What is a Marketing Agency?
A marketing agency is “a company that helps businesses create and implement marketing campaigns.” This can range from content marketing, search engine marketing, running Google ads and if you're wanting to be a little more niche, offer a buffet of digital marketing services that helps you drive qualified leads. They can also help businesses develop new marketing strategies or fine-tune existing ones. In general, marketing agencies work with brands and companies of all sizes.
While the term “marketing agency” might conjure up images of big advertising firms with glossy offices and high-powered executives (big babies?), there are actually many different types of marketing agencies, from one-person operations to large multinational firms. So whether you’re looking for help with your next ad campaign or just need some advice on reaching your target market better, there’s a marketing agency out there that can help you achieve your goals.
Different Types of Marketing Agencies
There's a bunch of marketing agencies out there, each with its own specialties and areas of focus. Some agencies focus primarily on advertising, creating TV commercials, print ads, and online display ads. Others focus on public relations, working on getting their clients featured in the news or interviewed by popular bloggers. There are also agencies that specialize in event planning, organizing product launches, and trade show appearances. And then, some social media or digital marketing agencies help companies to build a following on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram through the likes of social media advertising.
How a Marketing Agency Can Help Your Business
If you've ever run a business, you know that marketing is essential. It’s how you get your product out to the masses and make sure that you’re not just screaming into a massive black hole about how great your products and services are. But it can be hard to keep up with the latest trends and find effective ways to reach your target audience. That's where a marketing agency comes in.
A good agency will have a team of experienced professionals who can help you create a comprehensive marketing plan and execute it flawlessly. They'll also be up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies, so you can be confident that your campaigns are using the most effective channels. And, perhaps most importantly, they'll take the time to understand your business and your goals so that they can tailor their approach to your unique needs.
In other words, working with a marketing agency is a great way to ensure that your marketing efforts are as successful as possible. This allows you to focus on other aspects of your business and its overall growth.
What Types of Services a Marketing Agency Offers
A marketing agency can provide a wide range of services to businesses of all sizes. From helping to develop a brand identity to creating and executing promotional campaigns, a marketing agency can be an invaluable partner in driving growth. One of the most critical services a marketing agency offers is audience research, helping you discover potential customers.
To create effective campaigns, it is crucial to understand who the target audience is and what they want. A good marketing agency will have extensive experience in conducting market research and can use this data to develop strategies that are likely to resonate with your ideal audiences.
Another important service offered by marketing agencies is advertising. Whether placing ads in traditional media such as newspapers and magazines or developing online ads, a good marketing agency will understand best practices and have the arsenal to help your achieve your marketing objectives. In addition, many marketing agencies also offer public relations services. From writing press releases to organizing media events, a PR campaign can generate a lot of buzz around a product or service. A great agency will take a unified approach in tying in several services to achieve your business objectives.
By partnering with a reputable marketing agency, businesses can reap the benefits of having an experienced and dedicated team working on their behalf.
How to Choose the Right Marketing Agency
Marketing can be tricky. Trends change quickly. Platforms come from seemingly nowhere to become the hottest new thing. And, at some point, people just stopped using MySpace. There are so many different avenues to explore, and it can be hard to know where to start. And once you've started down the path of marketing, it can be difficult to change course. That's why it's important to choose the right marketing agency from the beginning.
Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a marketing agency:
Consider Your Budget
First, consider your budget. Marketing can be costly, so you'll need to make sure you're working with an agency that fits within your company’s plans. Sometimes size determines how expensive a marketing agency is, but most often it depends on the services they provide and the types of other clients they have. Agencies with large clients or well-known brands may charge more for their time than agencies with smaller clients do. Understanding how much an agency costs to do business with may require asking questions or speaking to a sales rep. It’s okay; we hate it when they don’t put the prices on the menu, too.
Consider Their Portfolio
To determine which agency is right for you, you may also want to check their portfolio. This includes the work they’ve done–which most agencies will display on their website–and their client list–more prominent ones are typically listed on their site, but public lists may be incomplete. Based on their track record, you may find that the work they do fits your brand's vision or that it wouldn’t be a good match. When an agency works within a specific industry (like healthcare or agriculture), they become experts in that field. Their contacts are within that industry, and they may not have such connections outside of their main category. More prominent digital marketing agencies offer a holistic approach to various forms of marketing rather than channelling in one just one sector.
As with any marketing, word-of-mouth is often the strongest way to discover the best products and services. If a company works with a strong marketing agency, they will likely be happy to share that information with you. Ask your network about their favourite agencies to work with to help you consider your own.
Questions to Ask When Interviewing Potential Marketing Agencies
When you're looking for a marketing agency to help take your business to the next level, it's important to ask the right questions.
Here are four key questions to keep in mind during the interview process:
- What do you know about our company or our industry? The agency should already have a general understanding of your business and the industry you serve. If they haven’t bothered to learn anything, then it could be a sign that they aren’t the right agency for you.
- What are your thoughts on our current marketing efforts? Get the agency's honest feedback on what's working and what isn't. This will help you determine if they're a good fit for your needs, showing that they’ve done their research. It can also be helpful to ask for examples of work they’ve done with other clients to help achieve similar marketing solutions.
- What are your ideas for taking our marketing to the next level? When a business seeks out a new agency, sometimes a meeting called an RFP (Request for Proposal) or an RFI (Request for Information) is T'd up. This meeting is designed to have agencies compete for your business. This is where the agency gets to show off its creative side. Sometimes the agencies will present creative work specifically designed for your products or services, and other times this could be more of an exploration of current versus future marketing efforts.
- How do you measure success? Make sure you're on the same page when defining success. As a brand or business, your goal is to grow and make more money. They should be able to explain how their marketing efforts can help you achieve those goals. Once you know what metrics the agency uses to measure success, you'll be able to assess whether they will work best with you.
How to Get the Most Out of Working With a Marketing Agency
When it comes to marketing, working with a professional agency can be a great way to get the most bang for your buck. Not all relationships in business work out, but it’s essential to enter any partnership with good intentions and by putting your best foot forward.
Before Starting With an Agency
Before you start working with an agency, take some time to think about the marketing goals you hope to accomplish. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Drive an increase in quality traffic to your website? Boost sales? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can better communicate your goals to the agency and work together to create a plan that will help you reach them.
Be Honest About Where You Are
A relationship built on half-truths or with misconceptions can crumble quickly. Be honest about your budget and how much you're willing to spend. This will help the agency create a plan that fits within your budget and help you avoid surprise invoices down the road.
Provide Detailed Information
Be clear about your products, services, and target audiences. The more specific you can be, the better. This information will help the agency create targeted content that is more likely to resonate and achieve your desired results. Early on, you should have discovery meetings together where the agency can ask questions and get to know your subject matter experts (SMEs).
A good agency will keep you involved throughout the entire process, from strategy development to execution. This way, you can provide input and feedback that will help ensure the success of your marketing campaign. If you're not directly available to the agency, be sure to assign the relationship to someone close to you so you can stay informed without it taking up too much of your time.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither are successful marketing campaigns. It takes time to see results, so it's essential to be patient and give the campaign time to work. Trust in your agency and the process.
If you keep these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to getting the most out of your partnership with a marketing agency.
3 Common Mistakes Businesses Make When Working With Marketing Agencies
Marketing agencies can be a great asset for businesses looking to promote their products or services. However, there are a few common mistakes that businesses would do well to avoid.
Mistake #1 - Not Setting Clear Goals
Without a clear goal, it can be difficult for the agency to create an effective strategy. When working with an agency, goals should be set early and adjusted as the business changes or more information becomes available.
Mistake #2 - Micromanaging
No one likes a micromanager. Requiring unnecessary details or constantly questioning your agency’s work is a quick way to ruin your relationship. While communication needs to be open and information shared freely, there is a fine line between not caring and being overbearing.
Mistake #3 - Not Trusting the Agency’s Expertise
It's important to trust the expertise of the agency and allow them to do their job. They are experts in marketing, and you are an expert in your business. Together, you can create fantastic things together. If you are at odds, then the work will suffer, and you will soon be looking for a new agency to work with.
Red Flags When Working With Marketing Agencies
Not all agencies are a fit for all businesses. And, just like businesses in other industries, some agencies involve bad actors or have poor business practices. These things may not be evident from the start, but once they are in the open, you need to understand how to pivot or end the relationship if you wish.
The Agency Promises Quick Results
No matter the agency's strength, if they promise your company fast or amazingly large results, then this could be a sign that they are simply focused on getting you to sign a contract.
Pricing is Too High or Too Low
Most agencies won’t reveal their pricing models publicly. This is where you need to do your homework and ask around. Find other similar-sized agencies that people in your network partner with and ask about the fees associated with that agency. If the price they give is too high or too low, then this could be a red flag. Also, if an agency is too vague about its pricing, this could lead to expensive surprises down the road. Pricing should be clear, fair for the market, and as detailed as necessary.
The Agency Doesn’t Seem to Care About Your Business
Just because you’re two businesses working with each other doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have mutual respect and appreciation for one another. If you find an agency just focused on the bottom line or getting you to sign papers rather than trying to understand how they can serve you better, then you may want to look elsewhere.
They Don’t Keep Their Promises
Underachieving is one thing. Not even trying is something completely different. If you find the agency is constantly missing deadlines, underperforming, or lacking in their execution for you, then it’s time to move on. Also, if they can’t bother to text you that they were running late, you end up sitting at the bar for five hours downing six Long-Island Iced Teas and three desserts, while the waiters all whispered about you in the corner…it’s time to move on.
Working with a marketing agency can be a great way to achieve your business goals. But it’s essential that you and the agency completely understand the relationship you're getting yourselves into. If the work goes well, this could be a partnership that lasts for years. If it doesn’t, it could end quickly, poorly, and you could be spending time and money finding a new one.