Are you finding all your time is getting consumed with marketing? Developing and running your own marketing can be a very time consuming affair. However in the early stages of a business, it can be essential to handle marketing internally – but when you get to the point that you can’t handle it anymore; this might be the time to look for a marketing agency. Hiring experts can take the burden off time pressures and can be #reallyeffective when trying to cope with marketing tasks that you perhaps, just haven’t got the right skills for.

Once you’ve made the decision to outsource, finding the right agency can be a task in itself, so we’ve developed some pointers to consider, that will hopefully save you some precious time, whilst you get your agency search going.

What type of agency do I need?

When determining your agency choice, it’s important to start with your own goals and needs before you can engage the right agency. There are agencies that specialise in certain areas of marketing such as design or PR. There are agencies that take a more full-service approach; i.e. an agency that can handle all of your needs. Defining goals up front will determine what services you require and help you shortlist only suitable agencies.

What’s their track record?

Sounds obvious but you wouldn’t hire an employee without the relevant experience so of course you’ll want to be sure that your potential agency has the right expertise in the particular sector you are in. Ask for examples of relevant experience, customer testimonials and references. You’ll also want to ensure that the marketing strategy proposed is a complete tailored approach, unique to your business and not a-campaign-in-a-box type approach. Do seek out advice from peers, referrals and recommendations inspire confidence.

Will this be an effective partnership?

We believe it’s important to think of your agency as an extension to your in-house team – and therefore view it as a partnership. Early meetings should be used to determine your potential fit and ‘chemistry’, with the agency or agencies in question. It’s a bit like a dating game first impressions and ‘gut feel’ do count and if you feel like you’re not on the same page, then chances are they are not the perfect match for your business. There has to be mutual trust, respect and understanding from the outset, this is a relationship after all!

Communication, the key to any good relationship, is vital to achieving your goals, you need to ensure that you are happy with the strategy the agency is proposing and don’t feel afraid to say if you’re not. Equally, if the communication is open and honest, you will be confident that your marketing is in capable hands and trust the advice and approach your agency takes for you.

How committed are they?

With any relationship there has to be a level of commitment. You might just want a short-term project e.g. a rebrand to your current website. There are of course many agencies that work on a short-term basis, and this may maximise limited budgets and give your company the boost it needs. For a really effective marketing campaign, results do not tend to appear overnight so you’ll want an agency that’s committed; it takes time and ongoing effort to achieve the real bottom-line results you are ultimately after. Of course this will cause a bigger dent to your marketing budget but will also bring bigger returns. A good agency should respond to your immediate brief, even if it is only short-term but should also give you options for a more committed future.

What does success look like?

An agency should offer certain metrics to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. Work together to define these before you commence work – think about what success looks like and agree these measures together, this will be critical to measuring the all important ROI. In addition to this agree upfront how you will work day-to-day with your agency. Will you have a dedicated account manager, weekly or monthly meetings where you can evaluate metrics? What reports will you receive, frequency of communication etc

What else can they do?

Most agencies have their own USPs or points of difference that stand them apart from rest. Often you might find an agency has that something ‘extra’ – a value-added service, product or partner. Perhaps they partner with an organisation that could give you the sponsorship opportunities you are also looking for. Or a simple incentive that could save you money – here at REM, we ‘share’ costs at the start of a campaign, with a 50/50 split, we like to invest in our clients as much as they invest in us. Look out for value-adds whilst comparing agencies; it just might be the difference that counts.

Conclusion – spend time to save time

We hope you have found these pointers useful. Spending time to define goals, research agencies and evaluate them will ultimately lead to a great client-agency relationship and will leave you with the time you needed to devote to other areas of the business, whilst confident that your marketing is really effective. The REM team are always on hand if you want an informal chat or ‘chemistry’ meeting.