If you read our first blog post in this series on reasons you should align with a marketing firm, you may be ready to take the next step of finding the perfect partner for your business. Easy, right? Not exactly. No two marketing firms are created equal, and before signing an agreement, you should know going into the relationship exactly what you’re looking to achieve. At 1558 Brand Agency, our leaders have worked with various sized businesses for nearly 20 years, and we want to help highlight a few key points to consider when embarking on that journey to find your perfect match.
Here are a few questions you should consider when assessing potential partners for your marketing needs:
What are your needs as an organization?
The first, and probably most relevant question you should ask yourself is what are you trying to achieve? Do you need a marketing firm to help you with a specific project/campaign? Or, are you looking for more of a long-term partner to help you with the overall strategy and the execution of marketing initiatives? If the answer is you’re looking for someone to help with a specific project, chances are you’ll want a project agreement. This could be for a brochure, a new website, or a number of other deliverables. This sort of agreement is straight-forward – you’ll likely pay a deposit upfront, the scope of work is defined, the final project is delivered, and you pay the remainder of your invoice. You then go your separate ways until you need to use the firm again.
The other type of arrangement is a retainer agreement. This is more of a long-term marketing partnership, and it’s the type of work that 1558 Brand Agency prefers. The agreement is usually for 12 months or longer. This is advantageous if you don’t have a staff in place to implement the strategy you’d like. Or, you might not have any strategy at all and need an outside agency to help devise a high-level marketing plan. The agency serves as an extension of your businesses and will have a vested interest in making sure your marketing dollars are well spent. If you’ve ever done any sort of marketing, digital or otherwise, you know it takes time to reach your target audience and convert prospects into clients. A retainer agreement allows the marketing firm to help you set goals, and to set specific milestones to help you reach those goals.
What exact services are you looking for?
Narrowing down your exact needs will help when trying to find the right marketing firm since you’ll want to be sure they have a specialist in your area. For instance, are you looking to rebrand your organization? If so, you’ll want to find someone with proven graphic design experience (along with a portfolio of related work). Or, maybe you need digital marketing support. This could include managing your social media accounts, Google Ads, other social media marketing, paid online advertising, bolstering your SEO presence, blogging, and so on. Perhaps you’d like to supplement your existing social media efforts with custom videos to post to your YouTube channel, or on your website. If this is the case, you’ll want to be sure the firm has in-house videography and photography capabilities.
Another common reason firms seek outside help in their marketing efforts is if they need a copywriter. Maybe you do have a great marketing plan and team, but you need somebody to come in and craft copy that is dynamic and compelling. This could also overlap with media relations support. As a business, you should be looking for stories you can tell that would be of interest to the media. Press releases are a simple and great way to get those newsworthy items out to the masses.
There are also impromptu needs like crisis communications. Maybe you’ve never needed help before with marketing, but suddenly something happens and you need to engage in damage control. A marketing firm experienced in crisis communications will be the key to circumventing any resulting negativity.
Of course, nothing is more of a direct representation of your business than your website. What is yours saying to your potential clients? If you are struggling to manage your website, are unhappy with the overall look and feel, or have a blog that’s been sitting there for months on end with no updates, be sure you find a firm that focuses on web development.
At the end of the day, finding the right partner for you should always tie back to your business’s specific needs. Look at the services you need and let that shape your search for the perfect marketing agency.
How do I find the right agency?
One way to go about finding the right agency is to look at businesses that are doing well with their marketing. If you know of a local business or have a contact that you see really using marketing to their advantage, ask them who they use. If you’re not sure or don’t know of any businesses you’d like to emulate, you can shop around with different agencies. Here are some questions that can help your search:
What is your vision/mindset/personality of your agency?
What services do you offer? What, specifically, is your expertise?
Are you a large firm or a boutique firm?
Is your firm local?
Ideally, these questions and more should be answered on the agency’s website. And while we’re on that note – take inventory of what their website looks like, and how well they are communicating with you. After all – how can any firm properly help you with your marketing efforts if they can’t even market themselves? The location factor is also an important one. You want an agency with quick turnaround times, accessibility, and distinct knowledge of your local market.
Do you want to do a formal RFP process or would you rather go the informal route and contact a few different agencies directly?
A Request for Proposal (or RFP as it’s commonly called) is a way to gather and compare quotes from several different agencies. However, since writing an RFP, managing the process, and reviewing proposals take time and manpower, this process is generally reserved for enterprise companies. At 1558, we’ve been on both sides of the RFP process – we’ve written many RFPs, and we’ve responded to them as well. The formality and structure of the process requires knowledge and expertise – so be sure you have an experienced partner on your side if you decide to go this route!
A common practice for small businesses is to simply call and chat with several agencies, tell them your needs, and request a quote. Don’t get wrapped up though in trying to find the “cheapest” price. The adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies here as well. Try instead to find where you will get the most value, both in terms of what they provide AND the kind of traction these initiatives will deliver.
If you’d like to see how 1558 Brand Agency can align with you and your marketing objectives, give us a call today at +1 (469) 612-5398 or send us an email at email@example.com.
Please check out our other blogs in this series!
You Don’t Have to Do It All Yourself: Reaching your Goals with the Right Marketing Partner How to choose the right marketing agency partner and where should you look for one.