Some things are a match made in heaven, like chips and mushy peas, karaoke and alcohol, an all-you-can-eat buffet and regret.
Similarly, high-growth businesses and marketing agencies should fit together perfectly.
Business leaders know what they want to achieve but aren’t sure how to get there. While a marketing agency is there to illuminate opportunities and pave the way for success.
But this result can only occur when you’re working with experts who can truly deliver. Read this article and learn how to find a marketing agency you can depend on to help you grow your business.
1. They understand your goals
You’ll only get the best results when the agency understands your company inside out: why it exists, your long-term vision and the current challenges you’re facing. That way, they can create an effective strategy built to meet your specific needs.
So, before you drive straight in and sign the contract, you need to make sure the agency in question understands your goals and can clearly communicate them back to you.
They should present a proposal/plan that expands on your ideas, identifies opportunities and has an action plan for success. It’s a red flag if they’re pushing you to pay before any of this has been achieved.
They need to show you that they can help you achieve your goals, and how they plan to do it.
2. They can prove they've delivered successful marketing campaigns before
A considerable part of your decision to buy should be gaining evidence that the marketing agency can deliver on its promises. Can the team offer detailed, relevant and authentic case studies or statistics? Can they give you examples of their achievements on the spot?
It might also be worth asking their previous clients for feedback. If a specific company has been mentioned in a case study, feel free to pop them a message on LinkedIn to learn more about their experience working with the agency.
3. Their current customer base speaks highly about them
You know you can trust an agency when it has a loyal following and vocal brand advocates. As Kate Zabriskie, author and president of Business Training Works, Inc., puts it: “The customer’s perception is your reality.” You can’t get a purer version of the truth than a client’s reality.
If it has a large, strong community with customers who sing its praises, chances are you’ve found a commendable agency that can give you tonnes of value.
You could look at their employees and see how many recommendations and endorsements they have.
4. They aren't obsessed with cash and focus on value
What language does the agency speak in, cash or value? If they love to throw around big numbers rather than get into the details of how they’re going to help you achieve your goals, they might be all talk and no trousers.
For example, if the agency said: “We can help you double your revenue in two months,” rather than: “Through a personalised LinkedIn campaign, we will boost lead acquisition by 15%”, chances are they’re being unrealistic and could be leading you astray.
5. They aren't afraid to talk about company culture
It’s easy to spot a strong company culture that’s people-centred. The leadership team will talk highly about the people who work for them. And their office environment will be buzzing with content employees. Socials and office events will also be a regular occurrence as will celebrations for client wins and successful projects.
An agency’s blog can also be a good indication of its company culture: look out for employee success stories and away-day snippets.
6. They can prove they're growing their own business as well as other people's
It’s a bit like choosing a new hairdresser or barber: you know you’ve made a good choice when the person chopping your locks has a killer hair-do.
With a marketing agency, you want to make sure the team is experiencing growth thanks to their own campaigns and marketing strategies. Otherwise, how can they help you progress when they can’t be successful themselves?
7. They deliver outside the brief
A good marketing strategy is dynamic: it can adapt according to new data discoveries as you learn what works and what doesn’t for each campaign. Your marketing agency should be prepared for this and be willing to adapt should your requirements change.
They should also be able to swing you a favour here and there if it makes the difference between success and failure. An agency that is reluctant to go above and beyond its duty probably doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
8. They don't just upsell all the time
If an agency is trying to bleed you dry by consistently upselling its services, that’s a sure sign all they’re interested in is making a quick buck. It's a confusing, exhausting and worrying experience that can put you off working with marketing agencies for good.
Luckily, not all agencies practise vampirism. What you want is an agency that’s patient and drip feeds information about extras when appropriate. That way you’re not being pushed to go over budget for the sake of the agency’s pocket.
An agency that cares about your business will only push the services that are relevant to you.
9. They take a holistic look at your business
A marketing agency shouldn’t just look at your company from a marketing perspective. It needs to take into account the bigger picture.
For example, at Red-Fern we like to mine as much information about the business as we can, asking questions like what are the business’ overarching goals? What are its values and ethics? Are there any existing concerns from people involved in the company? Have you made any poor business decisions in the last 12 months?
By approaching a marketing strategy from a business perspective, you ensure nothing is missed and each decision is backed by strong business sense.
10. They tell you what you don't want to hear
Think about the relationship you have with your closest friend. If you’ve bought a hat that makes you look like gnome or have the worst shoe and sock combination ever, you can trust your comrade to tell you.
Similarly, an agency that’s honest is one worth hanging on to. That might mean correcting you when you’re wrong — maybe you think you need a new website when you don’t.
Or perhaps you’re about to invest big bucks into outdated tech. Wouldn’t you rather have an agency with an opinion than one that sits on the sidelines while you waste money?
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Find a match as divine as cheese and wine
Use this article as a checklist when searching for your ideal marketing agency. You’ll find one you can trust to get you awesome results in no time.
Understand your goals
Deliver successful marketing campaigns
Maintain a positive customer reputation
Are focused on value, not cash
Aren’t afraid to talk about company culture
Prove their business is growing
Deliver outside of the brief
Don’t upsell all the time
Take a holistic look at your business
Tell you what you don’t want to hear