Starting Our Search
Living in the Google era, we started our search for marketing agencies online, selecting 20 agencies with the best Google Ads. We knew we’d ultimately have to narrow our search to 5 agencies, but selecting 20 to start with gave us a nice pool of options. We began with Google Ads for a very pragmatic reason: agencies that allocate funds to quality Google Ads are more invested in pursuing every lead.
We reached out to each and every one of these 20 agencies, either by direct mail or via their web forms. We provided them with a short introduction to our company and shared our brand strategy and development plan. We had a very rough notion of our marketing timeframe, goals, and budget, but we were far from a concrete marketing strategy.
30% of the agencies we reached out to never replied, either because they didn’t consider us a valuable lead, or they simply hadn’t invested in , we’ll never know. But that helped us narrow down our search and come one step closer to our perfect partnership. We also disqualified one agency due to the fact that their web form was disabled, and their contact details were difficult to find.
Evaluating Marketing Agencies
The remaining 70% of agencies that did answer our inquiry actually responded pretty quickly. Within a week, client directors and CEOs were reaching out to us, which really fluffed our feathers, so to speak. They all wanted to set up phone calls or face-to-face meetings. No generic proposals attached to a price list were thrown our way—we were genuinely impressed by their desire to get personal and find out all the details of our business goals before coming up with a plan. They all demonstrated the detailed attention to leads that we were searching for.
In our own business, the follow up is as important as the first contact. Unfortunately, we never heard back from four of our “impressive” agencies. We can’t be sure if they forgot about us, lost track of their leads, or simply deemed us unworthy of future efforts, but as the saying goes, every kick in the butt is a step forward.
The next step involved a lot of phone calls, talking to each and every agency that was still in the race and even meeting with some of their representatives. We wanted our vision to be perfectly reflected in the brand strategy and development, and after all our questions were asked and answered, we were able to move forward with 6 agencies. This number represents 30% of our initial “Google Ads” list.
Each of these agencies presented us with an exceptionally creative and well-executed marketing proposal, Three out of these 6 actually pursued our decision within a week. This is the level of dedication and attention that we were looking for. Two agencies followed up more than twice to learn our decision, and soon after, we found our perfect match with one of these agencies.
4 Tips for Finding the Right Marketing Agency for Your Business
1. What’s their track record?
Past results say a lot about a business, so the more you can find out about what the marketing agency accomplished for others, the more you can envision what they can do for you. A marketing agency that’s proud of its work and results should make case studies, analytics, or other metrics available to potential clients.
2. Communicate your budget from the start
Marketing is a creative industry, and developing a marketing plan without a clear budget in sight can be the downfall of any partnership. Don’t be ashamed of your budget, not matter how small it is. You never know where lighting might strike! You could always be referred to another agency that turns out to be your diamond in the rough.
3. Get ready to talk
…and talk and talk and talk! Keeping the lines of communication open is critical to enabling a marketing agency to design a proposal customized to your needs and goals. Look for an agency that’s just as curious about you as you are about them.
4. What’s their commitment?
A marketing partnership is not a short-term relationship. Therefore, you don’t just want to partner with an agency that you like and does great work, but also an agency you can rely on to take your calls, answer your questions, and address your concerns. You can evaluate their level of commitment by paying close attention to the effort the agency puts in during the sales process. Are they quick to respond to inquiries? Do they follow up with you?
Jen Anders is a marketing manager at , a web-based CRM tool for small businesses.