5 questions to ask when choosing a marketing agency
Taking the plunge and investing in a marketing agency can be transformative for your business. Fresh perspectives, competent experience and a team of individuals ready to work on your brand are just some of the benefits that come with an agency relationship. However, we understand that diving headfirst into outsourcing your work can feel like a big investment, so it’s important to pick the right agency for you.
The redPepper Marketing team are bursting with a wealth of experience helping clients in a wide range of marketing disciplines and industries. From retail to healthcare and web design to copywriting, we’ve been there and got the t-shirt!
While we think we’re great, we know we’re not the perfect fit for everyone and we encourage businesses to find the marketing agency best suited to them. If you’re ready to invest in a marketing solution to achieve your business goals, here are 5 important questions to keep in mind.
1. Do they have a specialist sector or service?
A great place to start to find the marketing company for you is deciding whether you’d like an all-round agency or one that specialises in your industry. For example, some agencies deal primarily with just one sector such as finance or retail. A benefit with using an agency like this is that they know the industry well and they’ll have previously worked with businesses like yours. Essentially, they speak your language!
While this is a bonus, all-round agencies may have a wider knowledge base and there’s less chance they’ll be affiliated with any of your competitors. So it’s worth weighing up all your options.
Another type of specialist agency is one that concentrates on a particular area of marketing. For example, an SEO agency or a creative, design-based agency. If you’re certain about what area of marketing you require, this could be a good choice for you.
Let’s say your in-house team handle your organic social media posting, web design and SEO but you need a PPC specialist to run some Facebook and Google ads. In this instance, a PPC agency could complete your marketing line-up and give you the solution you were seeking.
With a service-specialist marketing agency, remember that you might not receive an all-round strategy on your brand’s marketing. As a full-service agency, at redPepper, we pride ourselves on being able to offer a complete overhaul of your marketing strategy if required. We’ll work with you to establish which areas you need the most support and create a strategic plan to provide this. To find out more about the services that we offer, visit our Marketing Services page.
2. Do they have experience with a business like mine?
Imagine you’re hiring a new member of your team, you’ll likely want to see some relevant experience on their CV. Hiring a marketing agency is no different! Researching whether the agency you’re interested in has experience with a business like yours is a crucial step.
Let’s say you’re a medium-sized company based in Essex, selling children’s clothing. Finding an agency that has worked with a company that ticks all of those boxes will be near on impossible. However, a great start would be an agency that has worked with clients in retail, or medium-sized businesses or even simply clients in the Essex area. Often, previous client examples, case studies or testimonials will be included on a marketing agency’s website, so be sure to find this page and do your research.
3. Are they a good cultural fit for my business?
Although a marketing agency isn’t part of your internal team, it’s just as important that they are a great cultural fit. Good communication with your marketing agency is key to achieving results you’re both happy with. You must understand their vision and they must understand yours. At redPepper, we like to position ourselves as an extension of our clients’ internal team. Although we’ll be doing the marketing, we all share the same goal and will work with you in unison to achieve it.
Communication is likely to improve the more you work with your agency, but it’s key that you have a good feeling about this from the outset. Ask to set up a meeting with them before agreeing on any work, meet the team face to face or at least over video call to achieve a better feel for whether they’re a good fit for you. If you’re a fast-paced, energetic team, then it’s likely you’ll want an agency to match this energy.
Another point to consider is size. If you’re a small to medium-sized business, but you choose to work with a bigger agency, you could find yourself at the bottom of their priority list. Lots of these factors will come with a gut feeling and if you’re concerned that the agency might not be the best cultural fit, then it’s probably worth broadening your horizons and seeing what else is out there.
4. How do they charge for the work they do?
Different agencies will charge for their marketing services in different ways. There’s no right or wrong in this, however, as a business, you may feel more comfortable paying one way over another. Let’s run through four examples of how an agency might charge you for their work:
- Monthly retainer
Having a monthly retainer with your marketing agency means that you pay a pre-agreed fixed fee each month. It’s then up to the agency to undertake the work required to reach the monthly amount. If you’re on a strict budget, or quite certain about the work that you need doing, this might be a solution for you as you know what to expect. However, customer behaviour is often far from static, so if you need to take a different approach, be prepared to adapt the monthly retainer.
- Per hour
Alternatively, your agency might charge by the hour for the work that they complete. This means that you’ll pay a fixed rate per hour for the number of hours needed. At redPepper Marketing, this is the approach that we generally take. However, we’ll always quote for the work before and give you a rough estimation of how long we predict we’ll need to spend. If we spend fewer hours, you’ll only pay for those!
- Per project
Another way an agency might charge you is per project. This is usually the method used if you’d like a one-off piece of work or something outside of your monthly retainer. For example, let’s say you’re looking for a new website design. Your marketing agency will submit a proposal for this project with a fixed fee to complete the work. In this instance, it’s always worth getting a few quotes as a point of comparison to better understand whether you’re being over or undercharged.
- Performance-based marketing
If an agency runs on a performance or results-based payment system it means that you’ll only pay for the results that you achieve. This type of model gives you peace of mind that no wasted hours will be spent on your marketing or, that you’ll overpay for what you receive. However, remember that paying only for results doesn’t guarantee that you’ll achieve the results you want! It’s crucial to ensure that you believe the agency will be able to deliver regardless of what you pay.
The amount you spend on your marketing will differ business to business and you should only accept a figure you feel comfortable with. If you think you might have been quoted too high, get a second opinion at another agency. If the figure is still coming out higher than you’d have liked, think about amending your budget slightly. Investing more in your marketing often requires a leap of faith but carries with it the potential for far greater outcomes.
5. How will they achieve the results you need and how will they report on this?
Perhaps we’ve saved the most crucial until last, but to get to know your agency you need to carefully consider their proposal and how they plan to demonstrate their successes. At redPepper Marketing, before working with a new client, we’ll put together a thorough strategic plan, detailing the services we’d recommend them to help achieve their business goals. We’ll also put together a financial plan so that the client can review where and how the proposed budget will be spent each month.
In whichever way a marketing agency presents their plans, check that you feel confident that it is the right strategy. You know your business better than anybody, so question any points that might not seem like the best decision. They may be able to explain why they’d recommend that particular service, or, they might agree that it isn’t entirely necessary.
It’s also worth asking the agency about their reporting strategy. Do they report monthly, weekly or at the end of a project? Achieving a good ROI is crucial, so having a regular breakdown of your stats helps you stay on top of this.
We hope that these 5 questions will help you find a marketing agency that is a great fit for your business. If you’d like to find out more about the services we offer, our previous clients or simply how we can help transform your business, please get in touch today. You can call us on 01787 223850, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form here.