When we last visited this topic in our 2018 blog post When Should I Hire an Agency? we outlined examples of when you should consider working with an agency to help achieve your business goals. Whether those goals fall under sales quotas, marketing strategy, social media presence, creative execution—or all of the above—hiring an ad agency and building a working partnership with the right team can be a game-changer.
Fast-forward to 2021. You’ve most definitely realized you need the help of marketing and advertising experts. But where to begin? Here are some of the more common questions we hear from potential clients, and how the answers can help you get started in your search.
Q: How long have you been in business?
The number of years an agency has been in business is likely a strong indicator of its record of success. However, an even better gauge is proof. Successful agencies will have case studies and references available. Just ask.
A question within this topic is often “How large is your agency?” Not a bad question to pose, but a better angle is to ask if you’ll have a dedicated account manager available and a team of experienced professionals working on your account. Don’t be shy about asking about their background and the skills they’ll bring to the table.
Q: What are your strengths?
A: As the advertising and marketing industries continue to explode with new platforms and technologies, it’s common to see new agencies crop up that specialize in specifics: digital, social media, public relations, etc.
On the other end of the spectrum are more traditional end-to-end agencies with experience serving a client from the beginnings of a brand discovery through a full campaign that utilizes multiple mediums.
While your business goals can be an indicator of what type of agency you choose, keep in mind that the most effective marketing campaigns will utilize a combination of tactics. This means content development, digital ads, videos, social media channels, traditional media, even supporting sales and service pieces should all support a consistent message—something only a full service agency will be able to provide.
Q: What is your experience working in my industry?
This may be the most important question you ask because both a “no” answer and a “yes” answer will have implications to consider.
Hiring an ad agency that doesn’t have experience in your industry can provide you with a fresh perspective from a different angle. However, you may need to plan on investing a little extra time getting them up to speed on understanding your business, customers, lingo, etc.
An agency with experience working in your industry is more likely to have the background information to hit the ground running, but are there potential conflicts of interest that may arise? Is the agency currently also working with your biggest competitor? Or should you be concerned that the work might end up looking similar to all of the other marketers in your category?
Industry experience or fresh perspective? You’ll need to determine which advantages and implications are most and least important to you.
Q. How will you measure the success of my campaign?
This is when your answers matter too. As you begin your search for an agency, you’ll need to know what success looks like to you going into the relationship. Having some clear objectives to share up front with a potential agency is essential. As much as they would like your business, they’re also measuring their strengths against what you want to accomplish.
A good agency will define KPIs and other metrics they’ll plan to use in measuring the tactics of your campaign. A successful agency knows they must be able to demonstrate a clear ROI for you. This also again underscores the importance of asking for examples, case studies and references as proof of past work they’ve done where results were measured against client goals. Keep in mind, however, that even the best marketing can be unpredictable. While there should be accountability for results, be wary of anyone who “guarantees” results. They might be over-reaching.
Q. What are your company’s values?
An advertising agency with your best interests in mind will see themselves as part of your team. That means being proactive to reaching your goals and having a shared vision, not just doing the bare minimum and putting out fires.
A company hires an employee based on whether they fit within the company culture, and it’s no different when you’re hiring an agency. Don’t choose an agency based on name recognition or size. Rather, view the agency as a partner and choose one that best aligns with your own values. You’ll find that being on the same track on fundamentals will be the foundation for a successful partnership.
If you’re ready for help in achieving your goals, we’re here to help—and are more than happy to answer any of your questions. We’re an advertising agency in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but our client list includes local, state, regional, national and international clients. Check out our portfolio of work, put together your own list of questions for us, and contact us today!