“Needing help” isn’t the reason to look for, or hire, a marketing or advertising agency. If you are not looking for an agency that will help you with long-term goals, you shouldn’t be hiring one. Hiring an agency that suits and performs for your business goals can be difficult. So we’ve compiled a list of our top tips to ensure you select the right agency. 

Questions to answer internally before reaching out to an agency:

What are our goals or the next 1-2+ years?

How long is the agency going to help us get to these goals?

The agency you choose to hire should have your goals in mind and be working towards them. Having a timeline for meeting your goals is important for your business’ success, and to keep your agency accountable. 

What matters to our brand leadership?

If your business is only looking to get more reviews on Google, you wouldn’t want to invest in a company that specializes in PPC advertising. Knowing what your goals are and what qualities or specialties matter to your leadership team is important. This will help you select the right agency for your specific needs. 

Are we looking to get a deal? If you are just looking for the most affordable option, you may not understand the importance of making an investment in your marketing efforts. The marketing agency you select should offer you a return on your investment. You should make a profit from the money you spend with the agency, but you should also be willing to spend money and make an investment with them.

Questions to ask your potential agency:

Where does a brand of our size fit within your roster of clients?

It is important to ask this question because you want to be a priority for the agency. If you are a small account or business and the agency primarily deal with businesses that have 10,000+ employees, you could get pushed to the background and not get the attention & success you deserve and are paying for. 

How many clients does your company manage?

Similarly to the previous question, the answer to this question will give you a for how much attention the agency will give to your goals. 

Are they “Yes Men”?

This is not a question you will ask the agency directly, but one you should get an answer to. You want to make sure you are getting an agency that wants to provide you with great work, and also has your long term goals in mind.

What do you think of our goals?

You should get a feel for what the agency thinks about your goals. A good agency will bring you to reality or push back if your goals are unrealistic, or could be improved upon. You want an agency that will be excited and happy to help you reach your goals, but should communicate with you if they are unrealistic.

As a client, you should not agree to:

Residual revenues for creative work.

Multi-year agreements. Don’t commit to anything for too long. The right agency will win you over with their performance, not force you to stick around with a lengthy contract. 

Signing a contract that has no specific tasks assigned to our goals. Your contract should always reflect your specific goals. If an agency presents you with a cookie-cutter contract without personalization, you may want to reconsider signing. 

Signing a contract that is unspecific. E.g., Signing a contract that says something like, “SEO services.” Signing a contract that is unspecific won’t hold your agency accountable for completing tasks and assuring an ROI.

Agreeing to any tactics that don’t align with your long-term goals and leadership. If the contract or work agreement presented to you doesn’t sound like it will help you reach your goals, take a step back and reconsider. 

Where companies fail:

They hire to ask, not to goal. The agency you hire should be a long-term strategic partner set out to help you meet your goals. You should not be hiring an agency because you want to have PPC ads made for your business. You should be hiring an agency because you want to see more online traffic to your site.

They don’t treat agencies like partners. You should demand more from your agency than just SEO help, web design, or content creation. They should be an integrated part of your business plan.

They don’t have any expertise in-house to hold the agency accountable. You should have at least one person in-house who knows what they’re doing in terms of marketing, advertising, or whatever you’re hiring the agency for. This doesn’t mean they need to be a marketing or advertising professional, but they should have some background knowledge on the subject. Having this person in-house will help keep your agency accountable. Plus, they will be able to help you read the reports presented to you by the agency.

They hide their channel representatives from agency partners. Your channel representatives should be in contact with the agency representatives. Hiding or avoiding the introduction of these parties is commonly overlooked by companies and can lead to miscommunication down the road.

They don’t hold their agency partners accountable. You should never sit idle and let your agency fall into a pattern of meeting the status-quo. You should hold them accountable to their contract and the goals you set together. 

Agency red flags:

They drop off the face of the earth. This doesn’t happen too much anymore. Agencies are being held more accountable by clients and their reviews serve as letters of recommendation. If you are curious about the longevity of an agency, we recommend doing a search for the business entity through your state’s website. 

Frequent Account Manager switch ups. Frequent employee turnover rates at an agency are never a good sign for you as a client. If your Account Manager is changed often, they may not be able to gain a good understanding of your business and put in the work they’ve committed to.

Lack of Transparency. If your agency is not open to talking about performance, goals, successes, and failures, they aren’t the agency you want to work with. You want a strategic partner who is open to discuss their struggles as much as yours. 

No reporting (or) automated reporting with no context on the data. If the reporting and results provided to you lack substance, that was most-likely done intentionally by the agency. If your agency is not communicating reports and results with you in full-detail, you may be with the wrong agency.

Not asking enough questions. You should want your agency to understand you, your business, and your business goals. If you don’t feel like your agency has asked enough questions and collected enough information, they probably haven’t. 

Not proposing new strategies or ideas to try. Your agency should be a strategic partner. They should have creative, innovative, and effective strategies to suggest and try with you.

They are unrealistic about what they can do. Going back to avoiding the, “Yes Man” – you want an agency that will be honest about what you can expect from them. 

Their results look good, but overall revenue is flat. Your business can’t survive on social media “reach” or “impressions” or customers’ Facebook reactions. You need actual website and in-store traffic. If the agency is pushing success based on lack-luster stats and you don’t see the traffic you’re wanting, you may be with the wrong agency.

They don’t have a specialty (there are some exceptions). Whether they specialize in a specific market, channel, or strategy, your agency should have a specialty. Agencies that are all-in-one and promise to deliver in every arena may lack in certain areas where outsourcing to multiple agencies may be more effective.