August 21, 2020 Doug Cofer

How to Pick Your Marketing Agency: Part Five

Close up of businessman greeting his colleague while meeting in a cafe in the city.

Reporting and Making Your Choice

So, you’ve done your research. You’ve asked questions until you were blue in the face and spent what seems like an eternity weighing your options of what marketing agency best complements your business. It feels as if you’ve done all you can and somehow there still doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut solution to your problems. Odds are, there are still a few final things to consider before moving forward with a specific agency. 

The biggest challenge is proving ROI — it’s a MUST!

When it comes to effective marketing, it’s important for an agency to prove it or lose it. Gleaning a return on your investment is hard, let alone a multiple of your investment. But if marketing is done practically and tailored to your business’ needs and customer base, it’s attainable. If you don’t recognize distinct progress in an agency’s clients or have heard negative feedback, you probably shouldn’t anticipate a return on your investment. Growth is a major, if not the primary goal in implementing marketing strategies for your business, so if your agency is struggling to bring those goals to fruition for their clients, it may not be the one for you.

All this to say, know that it takes time. Immediacy in ROI is not necessarily a tell-all reflection of an agency’s performance. Take note: are they actually making the right moves with your business’ goals in mind or having a field day with your money? There is nothing wrong with necessitating tangible growth from your agency and asking for regular updates to prove it. Trust the process while also consistently checking in to gauge your progress—but we’ll talk more about that later.

Strategy must be geared towards metrics

Though sometimes distracting, comparison is an important aspect of decision-making. As you conduct your research, be sure to also heed what sort of things other agencies are paying attention to. Marketing trends are shifting and revolutionizing more often than you think. It’s easy for an agency to grow complacent in the trends they choose to conform to. 

Let’s evaluate: if your agency is going against the grain, is it working for them? Are they a step ahead or a step behind? Even as they juggle a full plate of clients, it’s important to recognize if an agency is also making the right moves for themselves. Consider how well they are managing their own brand. 

Ask for an example of monthly reports

Going back to gauging progress, your chosen agency should feel comfortable and willing to provide you with consistent progress reports. While the people within your agency are the professionals when it comes to marketing, you still own your business’ future. It’s okay to ask questions, be in contact with your partners and to ensure initiatives that move you towards your goals are carried out. It’s important to establish beforehand what your communication expectations are and confirm that their style of reporting works for you and your business. 

Look objectively at the pros and cons of your options

This one’s pretty simple. Weigh the positive and negative qualities of each agency—make an old-fashioned two-column list if you have to. It can help to have an objective third party to ensure you’re doing what’s best for your business and not ignoring an underlying risk or issue. Reflect on what you consider to be non-negotiables and eliminate potential options that are unable to fulfill those must-haves. When it comes to deciding on a marketing partner, be objective, but…

…Make sure you like working with the people at the agency

Now, you may find this hard to believe: if you don’t enjoy the people you’re working with on the front end, odds are your overall experience with that agency will be equally unenjoyable. Not everyone can be a perfect judge of character, but there are a few key features to look for in the people who constitute your agency. 

For starters, good communication is vital in every relationship—regardless of the context. It’s critical to be on the same page and have a clear point of contact for your questions or concerns. Pay attention not only to how they receive your communication but how they reciprocate a response. In addition to communication, know what your agency values. Which do they bear prouder: energy and charisma or integrity and cohesion? And above all, do they value one another? If there is tension in their workplace, odds are that will translate to the work they are performing for you. 

Make your choice and move all-in

Commitment is critical in order for an agency to confidently begin working for you. They won’t want to waste time and effort if you aren’t all-in on what you’ve discussed and agreed upon. Any hesitation on your part will put a damper on full execution of the plan of action. When you align your commitment to this plan, you’ll find your marketing agency in gear to offer their support through thick and thin.

You may leave no stone unturned when it comes to deciding on your future marketing partner. Though there may not be a ‘perfect match’, the right agency for you is out there. When you do your research, spare no important conversation and make logical decisions based on your findings, you’ve set yourself, your company and your agency up for success. 

This brings us to the end of our Pick Your Agency blog series. If you want to learn more about what we believe are the necessary steps in choosing the marketing partner that is right for you and your business, click to read parts one, two, three and four. We hope this series will bring you five steps closer to deciding on who to entrust your business’ marketing strategy with.

The Creative Marketing Agency That Gets You Results

Four Columns Marketing Provides Goal-Based Marketing Strategies to Optimize Profits