Choosing the right agency comes down to a few key points – understanding what your business goals are, what types of agency services you need to meet those goals, the agency’s track record in your niche, and their fit with your own vision and culture.
If I’ve heard “we’re an integrated digital agency” once, I’ve heard it a hundred times.
All marketing agencies don’t fit in the same box, and they shouldn’t. While some specialize in a single marketing tactic, others may focus on branding, and then, there are direct marketers.
If you’re not careful, you may choose the wrong agency and not know it until you’ve spent thousands of dollars or wasted months with the wrong strategy.
Choose the Right Marketing Approach
Single tactic agencies. These are specialists in one, niche marketing strategy. Whether it is pay-per-click, Amazon feeds, or SEO — they are not a jack of all trades. You can use a single tactic agency very well if you already have a robust marketing team and strategy.
Branding agencies. With a focus on positioning and crafting your creative assets to embody your brand, branding agencies can help you define your aesthetic and understand your customer, but they are definitely not the best fit if you need to immediately grow your sales. Though partnering with a brand agency could help you better understand how to market your company, they are not likely to provide specific strategies to do so.
Direct response agencies. Every product company needs direct response marketing. The difference between a DR agency and a branding agency is that branding strives to make impressions while DR is about making sales. Unlike single tactic and branding agencies, direct marketers are experts in knowing how to persuade your customers to buy, and they have the tools and systems to track and test all of their marketing efforts.
Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
Before you start looking for marketing help, you must get clear on what your business really needs.
You must fully understand what each type of agency can do, but also how their approaches may impact your business goals.
Ask: “Do They Have a Track Record in My Industry?”
Marketing is the single business area you do not want to cut corners with. It takes time and extensive customer and market research to thoroughly understand all of the dynamics at play. You want a marketing agency that has a proven track record in your industry, otherwise, you risk sinking thousands of dollars into being a glorified guinea pig.
Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all practice. Don’t settle for generic marketing approaches because they’re cheap. Remember, cheap does add up over time when you have to continually go back to the marketing drawing board because your low-cost strategies don’t work.
In business, you have to spend money to make money. Choose carefully, but be willing to spend for proven expertise.
Do they clearly tie advertising back to sales?
Don’t fall into the advertising trap. Unless your goal is to grow brand awareness, advertising spend won’t help your bottom line.
In today’s digital age, engagement does not always translate into brand loyalty or an increase in sales.
The key is to find a perfect balance between advertising and marketing. Do this and you can expand your brand reach and keep your customers primed to buy from you.
To do this, partnering with a marketing agency that has digital expertise and is highly skilled in customer segmentation could be the ideal match.
“But I just need more SEO”
Then perhaps a single tactic agency is what’s needed. Make sure they have a holistic strategy for their channel whether it’s SEO, PPC, or Amazon feeds. And again, ask them to present a case study or demonstrate the ability to clearly diagnose your deficits and opportunities.
This is where direct response agencies shine. As the consumer marketplace becomes more competitive, direct response marketers will generally be miles ahead because of their ability to track marketing efforts in real-time.
So, the question then becomes: what should you do?
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. There’s always give and take in marketing. Before partnering with a marketing agency, of any kind, make sure you have a results-oriented and time-sensitive agreement. Are they promising 500 new leads every month or a 15% increase in your monthly sales revenue? Whatever their guarantee is, make sure you know it and have it written in black and white.
Consider the fit with your brand and mission. You want an agency that is as excited about your product or service as you are. If they’re not, it will be hard for them to understand what makes your brand appealing to your customers.
Marketing isn’t easy, but nothing worth doing is. In my two-decades-long direct response career, I’ve seen it firsthand. Only those companies that invest in growing their brand reach the right way can carve out a sizeable market share.
Finally, consider this… Agencies are a professional service. In our experience, the “service” portion is what gets forgotten. The longest agency tenures all have the same thing in common – they provided exceptional, on-demand service without nickel and diming the client.