Questions to ask before choosing a marketing agency

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Before working with external marketing agencies, SEO companies or website managers, there are some important questions to ask.

You need to make sure they are the right supplier for you.

So we have put together some questions for you to use as a checklist during your investigations into possible marketing partners.

The list of questions below are what we would recommend asking to make sure the quality, consistency and dedication is there.

Note these down…

Is a TEAM working on my projects or just an account manager? If just one person is working on all your projects alone, they can easily get snowed under – remember you will not be their only client. So how much can they fit in during a day? It’s obviously fine to have an account manager in charge of all your projects but they shouldn’t be doing EVERYTHING. There should be other specialists in the agency to support her/him. Designers should be doing the designing, producers should be doing the video etc. One person would struggle to provide a decent amount of work at a standard you will be happy with. No one is an expert at EVERYTHING.

What type of customer am I compared to your others? The problem with a lot of agencies is they often have one or two clients who pay a lot more than all their other clients. What happens here is that the majority of their time will be spent keeping these larger clients happy and if you are not one of them, you will be ‘squeezed in’ every now and again. You need to be a priority to your agency. Find an agency where all clients pay similar costs, so there are no ‘favourites’ that need to looked after more than yourself. Make sure all their clients are treated equally.

How many clients do you have at the moment and how many staff do you have? Again, this helps find out how much of a priority you are and how much work on your projects can they squeeze into a day. Its easy to judge. If they only have four people in the office but they have 100 clients, none of their clients are going to get a lot of quality time (except for those one or two who pay more than everyone else that we already mentioned). You will genuinely become a hindrance to them if you are getting in touch for changes / updates because you are taking their ‘precious time that should be spent on the bigger clients’. No one is being purposely mean or underhanded, its just they have to think about priorities. Make sure you go with an agency that you are a priority to! 

Can you include video in our marketing? Video has become a huge part of digital marketing as attention spans dwindle. Video is the best tool for increasing conversions. Make sure your marketing agency has an in-house camera crew you can utilise for your projects. Some still are not catching up by getting their own crew in-house and these  agencies are going to be left behind as their marketing is not up to scratch. Otherwise when you want video, they will find an external video agency which means extra costs for you (a lot more).

Do you mix online AND offline marketing in campaigns? Yes the world is a digital one now but without fail, any campaign that uses both online AND offline marketing ALWAYS reaps more rewards. Be weary of people who say one or the other doesn’t work – that just says they are doing one wrong or targeting the wrong audience.

Is all your work done in house? A lot of agencies use freelancers, which isn’t too much of a problem, it just depends what jobs the freelancers are doing. Agencies should really only use freelancers for occasional specialist work. Freelancers should never be doing the day-to-day work that is constantly ongoing.  If a freelancer is required to make a small change that you need done TODAY but no one in the office can make that change until the freelancer gets back to them, the relationship will break down and your marketing will take too much time to implement. You will become consistently frustrated as the agency is at the mercy of the freelancer (who will be busy with other clients). 

Will i get DAILY phone calls and updates? If they are not contacting you daily, you have no proof they are doing anything (even if they are). Yes, you may be to busy to talk to them everyday but in those cases are they still sending over email updates daily? Communication is usually the reason why relationships break down with agencies (even if they are getting you results) so make sure you choose a company that has communication and consistently keeping you in the loop as a priority.

Will reports each month just be generated numbers? Often traffic reports are generated from software at the touch of a button and sent to the client without context. However, these numbers are often meaningless without context. Do they also explain in reports what they have physically done that month / each day? Will they include plans for improving numbers next month? Will they fully explain what worked and what didn’t?

Why are we on a contract commitment of more than 6 months? Unless you have been given a significant discount in return for long term commitment, there is no reason to be on a contract for that long. Around 3 months is fair (as that often is how long it takes to get real results) and its fair for them to have 30 days cancellation notice (so they have time to replace you) but you want your marketing agency to be on their toes after set up to make sure they are working as hard month 7 as they were month 2.

Do you have Google reviews? There doesn’t need to be hundreds of reviews (agencies don’t tend to work with that many people) but a good agency would have a handful of  detailed five star reviews you can read to check out their relationships with clients. You can also find honest reviews on Facebook pages too. You are bound to find the occasional bad review, but does it sound like the person is being a vindictively mean troll or are they giving constructive feedback? Constructive feedback should be taken in but ignore the trolls (we have heard horror stories of agencies trying to get payment of people paying late and the late payer provided a bad review to get back at them) so if they have loads of fantastic reviews but one person being difficult I think they can be forgiven. However, having no reviews is a red flag.

Do you have an office or studio we can meet you at? Go and see them. Meet their team. You can quickly get the sense of a company in their own environment rather than just listening to a sales person who came to you. Marketing teams always tend to be reasonable young, often to the shock of grizzled business veterans but meet the team to judge their professionalism, dedication and friendliness and age wont matter. You will not get a sense of the team just meeting with a salesman coming to you just because it was easier for you.

There are a million other questions to ask but these should help you understand how hard they will work on your projects, the quality of your projects and turnaround speed of projects.

Obviously, a shameless plug here would be to say you should just join the Yellow Marketing Programme…but we wouldn’t do that. Not us. Never.



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