If you've been in a marketing rut, unsure of how to begin marketing your business, or in need of a team of experts to help you navigate the ins and outs of the marketing world, hiring a marketing agency can save a lot of stress and gain a lot of expertise.
In this guide to Marketing Agencies you'll find a load of resources:
- What Does a Marketing Agency Do?
- The Benefits of Working With a Marketing Agency
- Types of Marketing Agencies
- What Matters When Hiring a Marketing Agency
- Marketing Agency Culture Matters In Hiring
- How to Choose a Marketing Agency
- When to Hire A Marketing Agency
- Importance of the Client/Agency Relationship
- Don't Do Your Marketing Alone
- Are You Ready to Hire a Marketing Agency?
What Does a Marketing Agency Do?
It can be difficult to navigate the ins and outs of how to successfully reach your target audience because business marketing does not come in a one-size-fits-all package. Experienced marketing agencies take care of much of this confusion.
So, what exactly does a marketing agency do to capture your target audience? Understanding how to reach and engage with your target audience is the bread and butter of marketing agencies. After finding out your business needs, marketing agencies can hone in on which platforms would be most beneficial to implement to make your marketing efforts successful.
As a business owner, you likely have a broad understanding of marketing services, but a marketing agency can provide a team of specialists that are ready to take on the technical side of marketing. Researching trends, analyzing past marketing initiatives, and developing strategies to help you achieve your goals will allow a marketing agency to make the most of your budget.
A marketing agency can guide you from start to finish whether or not you have any experience with marketing. Beginning with strategy development, marketing agencies will implement the plan to ensure that your business goals can be achieved through the proper channels and help you find great success. Through strategy, messaging, advertising, social media, your website, or a combination of all these services, marketing agencies can handle every aspect of brand recognition and growth.
Taking into account your budget and goals, the right marketing agency will be able to elevate your brand to the next level so you can keep doing what you do best and run a successful business.
So, is there a cost benefit to hiring a marketing agency?
Benefits of Working with a Marketing Agency
As a business owner, when it comes to marketing, you’ve likely found yourself contemplating this common dilemma: do I hire a professional marketing agency or attempt to handle it all internally? When pondering this question, consider the following benefits a marketing agency can provide your business.
First, when you work with an agency, you’re working with a whole team of specialists. We’re sure you have a talented employee (or even two) that know their way around social media or are happy to sharpen their design skills on Canva. However, you’re bound to come across a marketing task that your team has little to no experience in and will need an expert. That’s what you get with a marketing agency, a whole team of experts, trained in providing marketing and communication services. With an agency, you receive a wholistic approach, combined brained power, and the skills to execute your marketing needs and achieve your business goals. Working with a marketing agency means all your needs (current and future) are possible.
Secondly, a marketing agency provides strategy to accompany the skills. Strategy is an important piece of the LUM approach and should be for any marketing agency you choose to hire. Thoughtfully tying a task or service to your specific business goals will ensure your marketing isn’t happening in a vacuum but is instead tied to measurable goals that (hopefully) guide each marketing activity. An agency will ensure that strategy piece is in place and can measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
Speaking of measurement, a third benefit of working with an agency is the accountability that comes with a team of professionals. Agencies are not just trained in specific marketing and communications tasks but also have the experience to justify the appropriateness and effectiveness of one service over another. An agency’s vast experience provides a wealth of insight on ROI and other important considerations your business needs to keep in mind when selecting the right marketing strategy for their business.
Finally, a marketing agency handles all the little details that are often taken for granted. For example, the scheduling, print coordination, material sourcing, media outreach, etc. Many of these important details are fine-tuned within an agency, which means your business doesn’t have to do the leg work. This is a massive time (and money) saver, allowing you to focus on your business rather than who to contact for media assistance or which printer will provide the best price. Leave that up to the agency!
Now that you have given some thought to what agencies can accomplish, you may wonder which type of agency would be the best fit for you.
Types of Marketing Agencies
Choosing a marketing agency can be tough. However, knowing what the different types of agencies are and what they offer, can help take your idea from living in the dark to fully illuminated for all to see.
There is a type of agency for just about every need your business may have. Some even combine several services under one roof. In order to pick what agency is right for you, it’s best to work backwards. Why backwards you ask? Well, it’s important to know what your end goal is before diving in headfirst and selecting an agency. If your end goal is to create a simple website to get online and start sharing your message with the world, then a specialty or boutique agency is probably your best bet. Maybe you are more of a “hands off” person and just want someone to handle all the ins and outs of marketing your business. Then a full-service type of agency may be the best option for your needs.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the amounts and types of agencies that are out there. Start by understanding your needs, what your end goals are and work backwards from there. That will help you focus in on what will serve you and your business the best. Then, know what questions to ask to choose the best option for your needs.
What Matters When Hiring A Marketing Agency
When choosing a marketing agency to represent your company, it can be difficult to cut through the clutter of research, proposals, and meetings to determine what agency will work best for you. To ensure a positive and successful experience with a marketing agency, remember to make sure you have what matters most at top of mind.
Goals. What do you hope to accomplish by hiring a marketing agency? Do you want to get more client leads, sell more product, refresh your brand, or reach a wider audience? Having a clear purpose and communication of your goals will help the marketing agency you select reach those objectives through their marketing initiatives.
Scope. Not all marketing agencies are alike, and it is important that the marketing agency you choose offers the scope of services you are looking for. Some agencies specialize in certain areas such web design or public relations, while others offer a variety of services in-house. Do your research to ensure the marketing agency you choose offers all the services you need. It’s also good to note, some agencies might offer additional services you hadn’t thought of and would be beneficial for your brand to expand on.
Experience. Does your marketing agency have experience in your industry? Have they worked with companies with the same goals in mind? Reviewing the experience of the marketing agency gives you the opportunity to see how they have expanded upon brands, utilized marketing tactics, and most importantly, grown through results. Don’t be afraid to ask about their prior projects, references, or view examples of their work.
Processes. Getting down to the fine details of how an agency runs might not seem like an important part of hiring an agency, but it can easily be one of the most important aspects to consider. Find an agency who clearly defines expectations, such as who will be the main point of contact, how will projects will be edited, approved, and executed, and more. By taking the time to learn about an agency’s processes, you will be better equipped to select one that works most effectively for you.
Budget. Sometimes it all comes down to the numbers. Your budget is one of the most important aspects in determining which marketing agency will work best for you. If the numbers don’t match up, you may have to reconsider the agency or reevaluate the money you’re willing to put behind your marketing efforts. It’s important to remember, you are investing in in the growth of your company through the skills, expertise, and advice of a marketing agency.
Once you’ve ironed out the basic research and have some potential agencies you’d like to consider, we recommend spending a little extra time on one more specific criteria – their company culture.
Marketing Agency Culture Does Matter In Hiring
Whether you’re hiring a marketing agency for a one-time project or seeking a group to become an extension of your team, the agency’s culture will have a big impact on how things go. The relationship between your two organizations will dictate how successful your efforts are as well as how enjoyable the experience is. You want to ensure you select a marketing agency whose culture you believe in and feel good about.
Team Matters. Before hiring an agency, get to know the people that are a part of it. You’re going to be working and communicating with this group often. Do their personalities gel with your team? Do you get a good feeling from them? Are you happy with the communication during the selection process? The way they communicate while they’re being considered is a good indicator of their best practices. The team you choose certainly needs to be incredibly talented, but the type of people they are matters too.
Values Matter. It’s important that the marketing agency values the same things you do. From the start, they should be asking you about your purpose, goals, and priorities. Like many businesses, agencies often have a set of values that drive their decisions, operations, and client service. Make sure these values have been communicated to you and spend some time considering if you agree with them. (Check out ours as an example.) These values will impact many interactions and decisions and having an understanding will ultimately help you make your selection.
Processes Matter. The processes the marketing agency implements matter. The way they communicate. The way they charge for their services. The way they prove deliverables and results. The client responsibilities that end up being placed on you. Their transparency, their schedules, their dependability, their scope change policy…it all matters. If these things aren’t disclosed, ask. If you ask and they’re not clear, run. You are entering into a partnership that will be much more effective if there is an understanding of processes in the beginning. Surprises and missed expectations will let you down and hurt both parties in the relationship.
Your marketing agency doesn’t have to have the same culture as you. But it does have matter to you to be a strong, positive relationship. Make sure you understand their culture, and make sure it feels like a fit with your business.
How to Choose a Marketing Agency
Similar to what we mentioned above, before hiring a marketing agency, you must first ask yourself a series of questions about what exactly you need. Having some knowledge about your basic needs will help you start your search.
First, what, and why do you wish to hire a marketing agency? Is this for a specific project you need assistance with, like a new logo, a new website, or a design piece such as a pamphlet or new business card? Or are you needing assistance with something more extensive like branding, or ongoing overall marketing services such as overall strategy, website and social media management, content development or ongoing public or media relations?
Secondly, what are your overall goals with this project or with the services you’re seeking? This will help in not only narrowing your search for the right fit, but it will also help the agency in their approach – or at least it should.
Third, how much time and energy do you wish to provide in accomplishing the marketing communications goals you’re trying to reach – do you need an agency to take on all the responsibilities or do you wish to take on certain parts of the project or service? Lastly, what is your budget range that you are willing to spend on your specific needs?
After considering these questions and your responses, you’re ready to start your search. Depending on where you are located, your specific needs and how you prefer to communicate, you can extend your search for an agency as far as you’d like. Many marketing agencies work across the country and are not limited by geographical locations. Whether you wish to work with someone in your specific city, state of region, or if location doesn’t matter, you should determine which is best for you.
Either way, begin with some basic research. Check out the agency’s website. This will provide you more insight about who they are, their culture, their team, service focus areas, and experience. We’ll dig into more of these later, but these are things that should be considered. Their website should also provide great insight into their previous or existing client base and if they have experience in your industry or business/organization type. Check out their portfolios and client testimonials which showcase their work and ideally what they have helped their clients accomplish.
Take time to also check out their digital presence. We’re in an era of digital marketing and it should be somewhat concerning if the agency you’re looking at lacks in that area, especially if your needs require digital components, and likely they should. If they promote themselves as being digital savvy yet have no presence or a very outdated digital presence, some red flags should go up. You don’t want someone managing your social media presence if they themselves don’t have one.
Make sure you review and connect with their referrals. What are their clients saying about them? Consider the good, the bad, and the ugly before committing your time and money to an agency. A proven track record may be incredibly important to you, and referrals and testimonials from those who have worked with these agencies will help you determine if they are a good fit for you or not.
Lastly, simply connect with the agency. Talk to them, get to know them a bit and just get a sense for their overall communication style and personality. If you connect with them and they’ve checked all the other boxes, they may be a great fit for you.
Now that you’ve outlined your goals, needs and done some research… when is it time to pull the trigger and hire an agency?
When to Hire a Marketing Agency
Developing goals is a large part of owning a business. But once you have your goals in mind, what do you do with them from there? If you have a strategy and the resources, you may already know which steps to take next. Others may find that they have neither the time nor the knowledge to move forward with implementing their goals. So, when is it time to hire a marketing agency?
You don’t know where to start. This is often the most difficult decision in determining how to market your own brand. Deciding which channel to utilize or which would be the most valuable can be overwhelming.
You don’t have the time or manpower to do the marketing tasks. There are many aspects of marketing that require special attention, and if you don’t have the resources to attend to these areas, you may be wasting your time and money by not having a dedicated marketing team behind you.
You know marketing is important, but don’t have the expertise to reach your audience. Many business owners find themselves in this situation. There is a general understanding of marketing but knowing the tactics to use and strategies to implement don’t always come as easily. Marketing agencies can serve as an extension of your team so you can focus on your business and the vast knowledge you have about your industry.
If you have been on the fence about hiring a marketing agency, chances are you have been pondering many of these points already. Instead of trying to take on this aspect of owning a business yourself, it may be time to pass the marketing torch to an experienced marketing agency.
Importance of the Client/Agency Relationship
A word of advice in how to experience success in working with an agency: foster relationships.
The client-agency relationship can mean the difference between success and failure and one that must be carefully considered. Afterall, you’re trusting another business to market your business and take its success as seriously as you do. In a way, picking a marketing agency is like picking a mate. The relationship between you and your agency is of the utmost importance, so consider these factors when weighing your options.
Know your roles. As with any important relationship, there are certain roles the client is responsible for and certain roles the marketing agency should take on. Clearly articulate what you will be responsible for and ensure your agency is specific and clear on what they will be providing (and not providing) so there’s little room for misinterpretation. While each agency operates differently, addressing your roles up front will make sure everyone starts off on the same page. Unsure what your role should be? More on the client role here.
Set clear parameters. No one likes uncertainty. Both parties (the client and agency) need to be crystal clear on their expectations, services each will perform, preferred communication process, schedule/organizational framework, ability to meet deadlines etc. Beyond just defining your roles, setting clear parameters will save time and of course money. Lay it all out on the table and address any issues early so they don’t interfere with your business goals.
Consider various personalities and communications styles. Again, each agency will operate a bit differently and it goes without saying that no two businesses are exactly alike, which means you will need to be flexible. Like most relationships, there will be ups and downs. Learning to trust each other and approach each situation with honesty and sincerity will help ensure the relationship you’ve built with your agency will last.
As stated throughout, the client-agency relationship is an important one for your business. Carefully considering your selection and then putting the above considerations into practice will help ensure the relationship you’ve built is a successful one.
Don't Do Your Marketing Alone
When it comes to your business, no one knows it better than you do. Afterall, you created it, you run it night and day, you live it, breath it… you could operate it with your eyes closed.
However, sometimes being so close to your business doesn’t allow you to take a step back and see the larger picture. You may not know that there is a larger audience out there that is just dying to connect with you. Or that there is something wholly unique about one of your services that a new audience would instantly relate with.
This is where the help of an outside opinion would be of great service. Someone to take a look at the whole landscape; social media, digital, print, video and find new creative spaces for your business to play in and to grow with. In order to effectively market your business, you not only need to take a look in the mirror, but you need an outsider’s opinion. This opinion may help your business flourish in completely new ways. Having trouble connecting with your clients? There are hundreds of new ways to get your message to where your customers are digitally.
Having an experienced marketing agency in your back pocket is like having untapped potential on speed dial. Sometimes all it takes is a new approach and for someone to be a little farther away from the day-to-day operations in order to see it.
For more information and resources related to these topics, be sure to check out the following links:
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