Chances are, every time you’ve turned on the news in the past few weeks, you’ve heard something or other about the Obamacare website “fiasco”. If the situation highlights anything, it’s that organizations often aren’t adequately prepared when making deals for the services of other companies. Specifically, we want to talk about how to ensure your business hires the right marketing agency.
Work Speaks for Itself
The first rule of hiring a marketing agency is that their work speaks for itself. When you’re selecting a marketing agency to do business with, or when you are approached by one, the first thing you should make sure of is that the work they do for other clients (it’s always displayed on some section of their website) conveys professionalism and has a style that will work with your brand. If this basic requirement isn’t met, you should likely look elsewhere for your marketing needs.
Only after you’ve seen their work do the marketing company’s success statistics come in. Often, you might hear impressive percentages like a “3000% increase in web traffic!”. These results actually are possible, and we’d like to put enough faith in our peers to think that most of the quoted percentages are real. However, keep in mind that nothing trumps the actual sales and revenue numbers of their clients. If a client has been with the agency and seen a tenfold increase in Facebook fans but no increase in revenue, a breakdown is occurring somewhere in the marketing process. Don’t be afraid to ask for these numbers as you begin talks with the agency.
Don’t Take it Lightly
A Request for Proposal is not something to take lightly. Once you’ve requested a proposal from the agency, you might think that your part is done. You couldn’t be farther from the truth. Think about it this way: even though the marketing agency will be the one in the spotlight and striving for your business, you should be just as prepared as they are if you want results.
If not, it might be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of their presentation and not express your concerns adequately. Remember, marketing agencies do RFPs for a living. Their survival is based on knowing how to assume what your business needs. These assumptions are often general, since the agency doesn’t have your industry expertise. Don’t let them tell you what your company needs. Instead, tell them what you need, and ask what ideas they have to get you there.
Your Work is Never Done
Your work is never done. Even if you are lucky enough to encounter and hire an incredibly talented marketing agency, you will never be able to offload all the marketing work onto them. The very nature of content generation, which is crucial for online marketing, requires that you continually provide the company with your industry expertise, and probably with some of the day-to-day aspects of your business, in order to bolster their efforts.
Additionally, it will be up to you to participate in agreed upon goals set by you and your agency. Your agency should provide you with a timeline of milestones. Ask questions anytime marketing milestones aren’t being met. Staying on top of reporting and voicing your concerns in a timely manner is the only way to keep your relationship with your marketing agency mutually beneficial and productive.