Whether you're looking to work with a marketing agency for the first time, or you're shopping around after having already worked with one, it can be a very daunting partnership to walk into.
Many business owners spend more than twenty hours a week trying to do their own marketing, so its no surprise that it's become common practice to outsource this task to an expert. The question is, why work with an agency instead of working in-house?
AGENCIES ARE COST-EFFECTIVE
If you want an experiences in-house marketer, you're going to need to be prepared to pay them a salary to match their skills. Minimum wage just isn't going to cut it. Paying an agency a monthly retainer is far more cost-effective, particularly because the combined experience of the marketers in that agency will far exceed any individual's. Our digital marketing starts at £250pcm - it would be tough to employ any individual with the relevant experience for that!
AGENCIES WORK ON MULTIPLE PROJECTS
We think this is by far the biggest bonus of working with an agency. We're regularly testing out new technology and strategies for our clients, and will often find that something that works for one client could also produce great results for another. Unlike an individual working in-house, we are always working with new people and new projects, so we're always feeling inspired!
So, now that you've decided to work with a marketing agency, how do you make sure that they're the right agency for you? It's important to ensure that you're working with people whose values closely match your own; we'd never work with Cuadrilla or McDonald's regardless of how much they were willing to pay us. Our values just don't match.
HOW DO THEY TREAT THEIR EMPLOYEES?
Your first job is to ensure that the people working on your brand are properly cared for. It isn't unusual to see a high turnover in marketing agencies because staff often feel undervalued. We recommend looking up the agency on Glassdoor. It's easy to tell the difference between a disgruntled former employee and a systemic problem; just take notice of the prevailing issues, whether positive or negative.
WHAT IS THEIR OUTSOURCING POLICY?
Outsourcing isn't always a bad thing, but the customer should always be kept in the loop. If you've met the team at the agency and you trust them with your brand, you'd be upset to learn later on down the line that they're not actually touching your content. We've even heard of agencies charging their clients huge fees and then having someone on Fiverr do the work for £50. If you're happy to have your work outsourced, go for it - just make sure that the agency you're working with is transparent about it.
ARE THEY CLEAR ON WHAT THEIR VALUES ARE?
Just hop on their website and see what you can find! Our values - creativity, collaboration, sustainability, empowerment and integrity - make up our entire "About Us" page. We're not members of any associations or networking groups that go against any of these values, and we only work with other companies whose values mirror our own.
WHAT DOES THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA LOOK LIKE?
It's no secret that marketing agencies aren't great at marketing themselves. There are, however, some tell-tale signs that something isn't quite right, and many of them can be found just by browsing Facebook. Do they claim to be great designers, but only post things that scream "Canva"? Are their LinkedIn posts clearly copied from Instagram; five dots and all? Even worse, is their LinkedIn profile a personal one with their business' name? Do they offer a blogging service despite not having posted one for themselves in three years? Marketing agencies should practice what they preach, and a little research prior to signing a contract goes a long way.
WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT THEM?
By all means check their Google and Facebook reviews, but it's also worth asking around in your local business groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. Often, people will be more than willing to send you their grizzly tales via direct message than via Facebook reviews.
We believe in collaboration over competition, which is why we work closely with other agencies and we're always happy to recommend them. We've also met a few cowboys in our time, so we'll always step in if we see a business owner in a tough spot.
If you're looking to dip your toes into the world of working with a marketing agency, why not join us for our drop-in marketing clinic in Lancaster with Fizzy Compass this month?