How to Choose a Marketing Agency

marketing strategy

Why is an effective marketing strategy important to the success of your business?

For most businesses, marketing their products or services is the lifeblood of their business so you would think that choosing the right marketing firm would be of utmost importance – and yet many business owners do not appreciate the importance of selecting the right agency or recognize the value effective marketing can have on the success of their business. Indeed, some regard it only as a necessary evil – a bottom line expense – whose value cannot be quantified. Thus they devote very little time or consideration to the selection of this key business partner, which often results in selecting a firm that is unsuitable for their business and its marketing needs. Then, when their marketing does not produce results, they whine that marketing doesn’t work. What follows are a series of important questions that should be answered before selecting a marketing firm that is the right fit for you!

Without customers, you don’t have a business. You have a hobby!

Step 1. What are your goals and objectives?

The first step in selecting a marketing agency is to determine your company’s short- and long-term business  objectives. Do you need marketing to generate sales, build awareness, promote a new brand image, increase market share, or a combination of these? Knowing where you want to go is the first step in getting there.

Step 2. What services do you require?

Understanding what marketing services you need will help you choose the right agency for your business. Do you need a strategic marketing plan to be developed? Are you launching a new product and need brand development? Do you require marketing research to ensure there is a viable market for your product or service and the sales message is on point with your target audience? Once the strategic and brand aspects have been addressed, you can turn our attention to the marketing tools and tactics that will be most effective in achieving your marketing objectives.

Below is a list of the major tools and tactics used in most marketing campaigns:

  • Advertising: Print, Radio, TV, Billboard And Outdoor
  • Content Management: Writing of blog, articles and other content for websites and marketing communications
  • Digital Marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google AdWords, Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
  • Direct Marketing: Database driven snail mail and email marketing campaigns
  • Marketing Communications: Brochures, catalogs, product sheets and other printed sales materials
  • Public Relations: Writing and distribution of press releases, obtain feature press coverage, articles and white papers; supervise press events and new conferences
  • Social Media: Posts to major social media platform (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and appropriate blogs and forums
  • Trade Show: Presentations, exhibit design, graphics, giveaways and talent
  • Web Development: Websites that are cutting-edge in design, content and functionality
  • Video/Photography – Produce video/photography material to incorporate in our digital, broadcast and social media marketing
  • POP/Brochure Display – Create Point-Of-Purchase displays, posters and literature to be used in retail location

Step 3. Industry expertise

How important is it that your agency understands and is familiar with your industry? If it is very important, then you’ve substantially narrowed the field or possible agencies.

Generally, an agency that is familiar with your industry, can hit the ground running, requiring less of a industry learning curve and can avoid sometimes costly novice mistakes. Certain industries require an agency with understanding and expertise in the strategies and tactics unique to selling to customers within those industries and differs from industry to industry. For example, marketing a travel destination to consumers, or travel agents, requires a different approach than marketing a flight school to pilots. Agencies who specialize in a particular industry, are more aware of the idiosyncrasies of these specialized markets, and are adept at selecting the right mix of media and messaging to ensure a successful marketing campaign.

The down side to agency specialization is that you may not find an agency locally with the expertise you require. This may require you consider agencies outside your local area, which depending upon the size of your budget and your account management needs, could have cost implications if frequent face-to-face meetings are required due to time considerations and travel expenses.

Step 4. Your target market or region

Where is your target market? Is it local, regional, national or international? Your agency should have the internal staffing, expertise, infrastructure and resources to handle your particular geographic marketing requirements.

Step 6. Agency size

In selecting a marketing agency, bigger is not always better. While it may be somewhat reassuring to have your company’s marketing handled by a large, well-known agency, the reality is that unless your marketing budget is in the six or seven figure range, you may find your account assigned to a series of junior account executives and creative teams more interested in advancing their careers than in promoting your business. Although large agencies have greater resources that you can tap into, carefully consider how important they are to you, as larger agencies, as a rule, charge significantly more for their services than smaller ones. In the end, whether large or small, your account will most likely be managed by a small team of people assigned to work on your account.

Sometimes it’s better to be the big fish in a small pond.

The flip side of the equation is also true. Hiring a consultant or a small firm, in which your company is their “gorilla” account and constitutes more than half their revenue, is also not an ideal situation as they may not have the internal capacity or resources to effectively manage your account. This may lead to poor quality work and missed deadlines. Consider the ramifications if a key agency employee becomes ill for an extended period, or leaves the agency – this could have an adverse effect on your marketing campaign as well as on your business. Therefore, look for agencies that have a number of accounts with budgets comparable to your own and the bandwidth to handle another account of your size.

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