How to Hire an Advertising Agency (the Right Way)

Every marketing agency is different, and it’s important to find one that fits your business well and can address your unique challenges. However, with over 13,000 marketing agencies offering services in the U.S. alone, choosing the right one can be a tough decision to make. And, ending up with the wrong agency can cost you greatly in both money and time.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to hire a marketing agency that’s the right fit for your business and its needs. This guide will show you how to prepare for the sales process, assess different agencies, and ultimately make an informed decision that will benefit your business in the long run.

What to Consider Before Contacting an Agency

Before you start reaching out to agencies, there are certain factors every business should consider. Taking some time to do so beforehand helps you get clear on what you’re looking for and assess potential agencies in a more efficient way. 

Here’s what to keep top-of-mind:

Your Current Needs

Why do you need an agency? This might seem like an obvious question, but it’s an important one to answer. It can be tempting for businesses to dive right into the agency search, but it’s key to take time up front to thoughtfully outline the reasons for needing an agency in the first place.

Start by clearly articulating the reasons you need a marketing agency and writing them down. Think about things like:

  • The current state of your business
  • Your short- and long-term goals
  • The obstacles holding you back from achieving these goals
  • How an agency could help overcome those obstacles

Talk to other members of your team and company to get a wider perspective on your business needs. Once you have a fairly long list, rank the needs by their potential level of impact on the business. 

You’ll end up with a list that you can use when building a shortlist of agencies to talk to. This approach will help maximize the value of your investment when working with an agency partner and ensure you don’t end up working with an agency that can’t address your needs.

Your Past Agency Experiences

One sure-fire way to figure out which agencies are right for you is to draw on your past experiences. Think about your experiences with other agencies and answer the following questions to assess a new partner:

  • What kind of attributes would you like to see in an agency, based on your past experiences?
  • Does the new agency have experience working with clients in your industry? What do those clients have to say about them?
  • How much upfront education and guidance on your industry are you prepared to give a new agency?
  • What are some agency qualities that would be nice to have, as opposed to necessary?

When putting together your list of attributes, you should include a mix of tangible attributes (like access to tools, deep industry knowledge, or project management process) and intangible or soft skills (like a transparent communication style, a partnership mindset, or respectful team members).

This exercise will help you not only learn more about agencies but also gain more insight into your own company and team culture. Having a better understanding of your own business makes it easier to identify agencies that fit well.

Budgets

It’s important to have a clear idea of the maximum amount you’re willing to invest in working with an agency, as well as how much you’d ideally like to invest in media and other marketing. This exercise helps you tailor your outreach more accurately, avoid disappointment, and factor agencies into your overall marketing budget more easily.

Outline both a target budget and reach budget, and set realistic expectations for how much a quality agency will cost. Conduct forecasting exercises to understand what results the agency would need to help you achieve.  

Be realistic in these calculations — you can’t ask the world of an agency and expect to invest very little.  A quality agency relationship with transparency and well-defined, realistic goals can pay off in spades if realistic expectations are set from the beginning.

Scope of Partnership

It’s important to outline what you expect from your agency, but it’s equally important to clarify what they should expect from you and your team. This sets clear expectations for the partnership from the very beginning and avoids any misunderstandings.

For example, what kind of communication and engagement can be expected from both sides? How often will you communicate, and what information will you commit to sharing with your agency team?

By showcasing that you’ve put thought into not just how the agency can help you succeed, but also how you will help the agency succeed in this endeavor, you’ll instill trust in potential agencies during discovery and set up a solid foundation for any relationship.

15 Questions to Ask an Agency 

Asking the right questions is one of the most effective ways to zero in on the right agency for you and identify less-than-ideal fits. The right set of questions will give you a much better sense of an agency’s approach, culture, and capabilities.

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. How is your agency different from competitors?
  2. What is your approach to strategy?
  3. How would you achieve the goals I’ve outlined?
  4. Are the goals I’ve shared realistic? Why or why not?
  5. What do you view as my business’s largest obstacle?
  6. What makes an agency-client partnership successful?
  7. How are your teams organized?  What kind of contact will I have with the advertising experts?
  8. What do you know about my industry/business?
  9. What elements of our advertising strategy have been good?  What elements represent the greatest opportunity for improvement?
  10. What would be your 30-60-90 day plan for our account, and what results should we expect to see in that timeframe?
  11. What would you need from our team to maximize your success?
  12. What tools do you have access to, and will my business own all of our media accounts?
  13. How do your teams stay current on the latest tools, best practices, and strategies?
  14. (When applicable) How do you integrate with our other partners? (e.g., PR agency, creative team)
  15. What are a few examples of advertisers in our industry doing something exceptionally well?

Hire the Right Agency for You

When it comes to finding the perfect agency for your business, preparation is key. By taking time to clearly lay out what you’re looking for and how an agency can help, you’ll maximize your chances of connecting with exactly the right agency for you and avoid the painful scenario of a partnership that doesn’t fit.

Put the effort into pre-defining what a successful relationship looks like, and you’ll show you’re willing to not only receive an agency’s help but also to give help where needed.  This will set any relationship off on the right foot and accelerate the success an agency can help you achieve.

To find out more about how Booyah can help you with all aspects of your digital marketing — and to see if we’re a good fit for you — contact us today.

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