Working with an Agency

Companies choose to go with a digital marketing agency over, or in addition to, an in-house team for a variety of reasons. An agency can be more effective and less expensive than an in-house team. An agency may have more experience with companies in your vertical than an in-house team. You could have trouble sourcing digital talent for your company. You may not want the commitment that comes with hiring a full-time employee. Whatever the reasons are for your desire to choose a digital marketing agency to help you reach your goals, finding the right agency for your company can prove very difficult.

The digital marketing agency world is overwhelmed with a wide variety of companies, large and small, from giant agencies to one person shops. In any industry, there are bad apples to be found, but digital marketing agency space has a storied history of malpractice. Some agencies do a great job for some clients, but are not a fit for other clients. You know the right digital marketing agency will help you foster significant growth, while the wrong agency will be a waste of valuable marketing dollars, but how do you choose?

What is the Agency’s “Sweet Spot,” and Are You in it?

It is extremely important that you find an agency that considers you one of their best, most important clients. A large, big-name agency will certainly take on a client with a low budget, but they will not give you the same quality of service they give their largest clients. Conversely, you may not want to take a $50,000-a-month marketing budget to a one-man agency- that person may be great at digital marketing services, but simply won’t have the infrastructure or time to give you the highest level of service you need. You also want an agency that has experience in your space. For example, an agency whose clients are all large retailers may not be the best fit for an up and coming B2B technology company; however, you also need to be careful you aren’t choosing an agency that tries to be all things to all people. There is no one size fits all agency.

Before you reach out to an agency, whether you found them yourselves or were referred, do some preliminary research:

• Clients: What clients are listed on the agency website? They should have past and present clients listed on their website. Assess the size of their clients and the industries they are in.
• Case Studies: Look for case studies on the agency website. Is the agency tackling problems you are looking to solve? This can also be another place where you can see the types of clients the agency works with.

This research can be very illuminating. You should be able to get a good sense of the agency’s sweet spot based on their listed clients and case studies. Once you’ve done preliminary research, when you speak to an agency in an introductory call, make sure you ask the following questions:

• What types of industries do you specialize in?
• What the average cost for clients on retainer?
• How much does your largest client spend with you?
• What is your “ideal” client in both vertical and size?

The answers to these questions can tell you whether you fit into an agencies sweet spot. You should strive to be one of the top clients for that agency, because if you are one of their best clients, you will have priority and are more likely to get their best people on your team.
Your marketing dollars are precious. Do your homework and make sure you are in an agency’s sweet spot.

Agency Size and Staff Composition

One important qualities of an agency you will want to research is the size and composition of the staff. You can go to a well-known, 1000+ person agency for your small business, and they will gladly take your money, but you aren’t going to get their A-team. While there is no perfect equation, a large company may want to look for established, larger agencies, and smaller companies may want to look for smaller, specialized agencies. The size of the company does matter, but perhaps even more pertinent is the composition of the company. There are some digital marketing agencies that are very skilled at selling their services, but don’t produce when it matters most- the work you are hiring them to do. Does the company have more sales people than service providers? If so, you will likely want to steer clear. A good rule of thumb is there should be at least as many service providers and technical employees as there are sales people, and preferably the sales people are outnumbered.

Before you reach out to an agency, whether you found them yourselves or were referred, do some preliminary research:

• LinkedIn is an incredibly useful tool for determining the size and composition of any company. No matter what type of service provider you are looking for, always use LinkedIn to research the company.
• Using LinkedIn, you can determine the approximate number of employees the company has. Remember, not everyone in the company will have a profile, so you can usually add 15%-20% to whatever number LinkedIn gives you.
• Also using LinkedIn, you can look at the composition of the agency. Use the list below as an example of alternate sales titles, as titles can sometimes be tricky and a sales title doesn’t always have the word “sales” in it.

  • Alternate Sales Titles:
    Account Executive
    Account Manager
    Account Representative
    Account Specialist
    Account Consultant
    Business Development
    Client Advisor
    Client Growth Specialist
    Client Success Manager
    Customer Engagement Representative
    Relationship Manager
    Marketing Consultant

Once you’ve done preliminary research, when you speak to an agency in an introductory call, make sure you ask the following questions:

• How many people are in the company?
• How many technical people do you have on staff?
• How many people specialize in specifically what we are looking for? (Could be SEO, PPC, Website Design, or whatever service you are looking for)

Your marketing dollars are precious. Do your homework and make sure you don’t get stuck with a sales-first organization.

Thought Leadership

When choosing a digital marketing agency, one major concern you should have is whether or not an agency has marketing thought leaders on their leadership team. With the ever-changing and evolving digital marketing landscape, you need an agency that has the agility and awareness to keep up with the latest strategies and best-practices. You want your digital marketing agency to be innovative and on the cutting edge, and having thought leaders within the leadership team is a great indication that an agency is at the forefront of the industry. Being “Google Certified” is a bare minimum for an agency, not a sign of leadership. Awards are nice, but often times awards are bought and don’t indicate any value. Make sure you do your research ahead of time, and don’t get stuck with a company using best practices from 5 years ago.

Before you reach out to an agency, do some preliminary research:
• Use the company website and LinkedIn to determine the leaders within the agency
• Use a search engine and LinkedIn to do research on these leaders, and particularly find out if anyone from the agency does speaking events, writes books or papers, and has been quoted or written about in news articles.
• Use LinkedIn to see how many people these leaders are connected to. It should be a lot.

Once you’ve done preliminary research, when you speak to an agency in an introductory call, make sure you ask the following questions:

• Who founded the company and why?
• What events does the company participate in? Does anyone speak?
• How do you learn about and implement new digital marketing trends that come along?

Your marketing dollars are precious. Do your homework and make sure you are getting real digital marketing thought leadership.

Referrals and Former Customers

When choosing a digital marketing agency, something many companies forget to prioritize is references. If you are hiring a member of your team, wouldn’t you check references for that person? The right digital marketing agency should be considered a crucial part of your team, and therefore, you will want to make sure other people think they are as awesome as they say they are. Current clients of the agency can be a great resource, but also make sure that you get a reference for a former client; you can often find out more about an agency by what a former partner says about them.

You can do some preliminary research on this, before even reaching out to the agency:
• LinkedIn can be a great resource for you here. See if you have any second connections with those who are in the agency’s leadership team. Ask those people about them.
• If you found a client list on the agency’s website, you can use LinkedIn to look up any connections you have with anyone from the client list. Ask those people about the company and get a reference before even speaking to the agency.

Once you’ve done preliminary research, when you speak to an agency in an introductory call, make sure you ask the following questions:
• Why do you think that clients stay with your agency over long periods of time?
• Can we please get a reference, preferably at least one from a former client?
• Who can I speak with that can confirm your expertise in digital marketing services?

Your marketing dollars are precious. Do your homework and make sure the company has a great reputation with current and former clients alike.

LETS TALK ABOUT HOW WE CAN PARTNER WITH YOU

Start a conversation with one of our marketing consultants today.

Contact Us