Picking Out The Perfect Digital Marketing Partner
by Ryan Staller
A lot of business owners have a natural inclination towards taking responsibility. On the plus side, it can lead to excellent decision-making and a drive for excellence. On the downside, though, it means that they can struggle with entrusting other people with important work. I’ve certainly run into this problem in my own businesses.
You have to face facts: Sooner or later your company grows too big for you – or even your internal team – to handle all of the work that needs to be done. Online marketing is often a task that can (and should!) be dedicated to outside professionals. This is a more effective use of your resources than trying to handle your marketing in-house.
Hiring dedicated marketing staff permanently can be a very expensive proposition. So is retraining your existing team members to handle marketing work. Hiring an outside agency represents a more efficient solution, as you’ll get access to highly skilled and experienced pros at a fraction of the cost of hiring or training them yourself. (There’s also a significant time savings involved in hiring an agency.)
All you need to do is find a marketing agency you can trust. Easy, right? Maybe not.
Things get tricky once you realize that the marketers’ core skill is in selling things. That very much includes their own services, so you need to approach the task of selecting your agency with a giant grain of salt.
As the founder of NetOne360, I’ve been exposed to the unique marketing needs of many different businesses. I and my team have helped a lot of companies that had no idea about their online marketing goals. In a lot of cases, our first job was teaching our clients what sort of marketing they needed.
Digital marketing has grown into a vital necessity for most modern businesses. Unless you’re highly experienced in this arena yourself – or have someone on your team who is – your best bet is to entrust your organization to a professional agency. Keep reading and I’ll teach you how to recognize a marketing agency that will be a reliable and useful partner to your business.
Start Off With Research
If this is your very first exposure to digital marketing, your first task is to hit the books. This article is an excellent place to get started.
You have to be careful when you enter these waters because there are a lot of agencies out there that can’t really be trusted. I’ve seen an awful lot of people in this business who promise everything and deliver very little. One particularly popular line in the shadier end of the industry is that you have to keep paying your marketing team for a long time before you start to see results.
Understand that deceptive agencies are very much the exception, not the rule! That doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Your marketing agency is going to be responsible for your online reputation and very possibly the success of your businesses. Here are some key pointers:
- Exercise extra caution before hiring an overseas agency.
- Cheaper isn’t always better. The low end of the price range is filled with firms that deliver low-quality work.
- Digital marketing agencies are still businesses. You can perform all of the same vetting steps that you would with any other vendor or partner. Good agencies will have a clean bill of health with the Better Business Bureau, for example.
What Prices Can Tell You
Obviously, the cost of service is going to be a huge factor in your selection of a digital marketing agency.
I understand the importance of stretching your budget, especially if your business is fairly new. No matter how important it is to economize, though, you should bear in mind that the most effective services are going to come with a hefty price tag.
I absolutely would not advise going with the lowest-price option you can find. As noted above, this is a recipe for getting sub-par service. In the quest to keep your marketing budget under control, you don’t want to wind up wasting what you spend by turning it over to an agency that can’t really help you.
I’ve met enough people in the marketing industry to know that nobody good offers their skills for bargain-basement prices. Real experts have invested a lot of their own time in learning and sharpening their skills, and they charge accordingly.
If you want to economize, one of the best ways is to first verify that you’re looking at a reputable firm and then negotiating carefully for your fees.
What Does A Credible Agency Look Like?
In the same way that you can immediately write off agencies with suspiciously low price tags, you can also knock out a few bad choices by simply looking at their websites. An agency that can’t even set up a compelling website for itself isn’t going to be able to market your business any better.
Look at the agency’s track record as demonstrated by the testimonials and partnerships they provide on their site. Do the testimonials sound honest, or do they feel fake? Are there any reviews of the agency on third-party sites? Has the agency worked with organizations that are roughly the same size as yours? Do they have any experience in your industry?
I’ve seen excellent agencies that deliver great service that fail to meet one or two of these requirements, but the more issues you notice the less likely you are of making a good match.
Look At The Long Term
Effective marketers can and should be working with you for years. In order to facilitate a harmonious relationship, you need a firm that is easy to communicate with. It shouldn’t be hard to share your goals and ideas with your agency. At the same time, you don’t want your marketers to be pushovers. They need to have the confidence in their own abilities to guide you to the most effective solutions.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the things you need to consider when hiring a marketing agency, these points are particularly important. Take this general advice and combine it with a clear understanding of your business’s unique needs.