Now that you have decided on the perfect marketing agency, it’s time to go over some of the dirtier details. No we aren’t talking about those details, we are talking about the meetings and paperwork details.
Discuss Some Of Their Techniques
No agency will reveal their techniques in full, otherwise they’d be out of a job soon. But an agency that knows what it’s about will be open about how they would approach your project in its particularities and what course of action they think suitable for your goals. This can tell you whether the agency really considered your particular project and is offering custom services, or they’re just coming to you with a standard strategy proposal.
You might ask for an audit when you want SEO services (more on this later), content creation services, a website redesign, when you’ve already had a strategy in place, etc. In most, if not all cases, a surface audit report should be offered free to each potential client, for a number of reasons. On the one hand, it allows the agency to see what kind of work they would be dealing with and loosely figure out the strategies they would need to implement – much like giving a diagnosis and proposing treatment. On the other hand, they should now be able to give you a more precise quote for the services they would render, which is especially important if you ask for a custom plan.
The audit would also permit them to come up with at least a few on-point observations about what would boost your current campaign, or indicate some courses of action for the future.
Again, this will also depend on your budget and needs. Perhaps you’re fine with a few standard strategies but even so, you should like to hear them talk a bit about handling your project and how they would go about bringing progress to your situation. This point of discussion can provide you with great insights on how well they understand your niche, and if there is a good alignment between what you want and what they can do.
Understanding The Paperwork
Make sure the agencies you speak to have the proper paperwork in place to cover ownership, changes in scope of work, clarity around the creative process, and more. This is not simply a formality, but a means of protecting your business. No matter the size, your agency has to clearly define the scope and dynamics of their involvement and set proper expectations for the whole duration of the relationship.
Contracts from different agencies vary, and it’s essential for you to be aware of what deliverables are expected and when to expect them.
Is your contract for a digital marketing campaign every two months that includes one offer, four blog posts, social media promotion, and an automated email workflow?
Know what to expect so that your project stays in scope, and there are no surprises down the road. With inbound marketing, you are not likely to see a return until after 3 to 6 months. Can this really be true? There must be a quicker way to see an ROI, right? Wrong.
Marketing is synonymous with trust, which takes time to cultivate and grow. An agency should be able to understand your business and jumpstart your marketing campaigns, but it can take time to see substantial results – don’t ditch them after the first month if you’re not seeing a return.
If you need results on day one, consider dedicating some budget to running paid advertisements. You can also ask your agency if they have a ‘quick-win strategy,’ which won’t necessarily be sustainable, but it will drive some leads to your door.
In order to provide you with a solution that focuses on company ROI, an agency needs to get a full view of the market, and you both need to be committed to your company’s long-term goals.
Businesses are seasonal.
Therefore, a 3 month contract is not going to give you a very good idea of what results to expect if you’re starting in an off-season.
If you’re a large construction company, your website is not going to be pulling in as many leads when the snow is falling compared to when the bees are buzzin’.
A successful marketing strategy cannot be devised overnight. And it certainly cannot be launched and executed in a month. Here’s the thing:
The marketing strategies that knock it out of the park burn slow, but once they start burning, they burn forever. That’s what makes the ramp-up phase especially crucial, and time-consuming, for the long-term success of the project.
Oftentimes, clients put unrealistic time-lines into place, pressuring agencies to rush the ramp-up and proclaim promises that are impossible to keep, frustrating everyone involved to no end. The underlying lesson here?
Prod your prospective agency for their ramp-up process and keep a keen eye out for overzealous timelines and profusive promising. If you walk into the engagement with the understanding that good marketing strategies take time, patience, and perseverance, you’ll be better equipped to spot lip-service and unrealistic project parameters.
The tools and software used will play a big role in how they manage your account and report on progress. That being said, some clients like to meet once a week, others like a formal meeting just once a month.
Be honest with yourself – will you need someone to be on call if you have questions each day? Or do you feel comfortable handing over the implementation of the strategy to the agency’s team, and just want to check in with a bi-weekly call?
Communicate your expectations from the start so that the agency can assemble a team and schedule that meets your needs. If you are close enough to have in-person meetings occasionally, this is definitely a plus. Otherwise, can you hold meetings over the phone or video conference?
Not everyone wants to make the commute every week or every other week for a meeting with their agency. Proximity is always a factor. Most people ask if their agency will be available to answer their calls and emails, but what about the time you realistically have to approve designs and content? Will they give you access to an analytics dashboard so you can follow along with their progress? Will they provide you with a spreadsheet demonstrating positive results (or lack thereof)?
However they prefer to report back from the battlefield, make sure there are clear expectations set from the beginning. Hiring an agency requires a bit of account management on your part as well.