17 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Marketing Agency
by Michelle Calhoun, on Feb 3, 2021 12:00:00 AM
Trying to decide on which agency to work with is a lot like the dating process. This is, after all, a relationship that you hope will be fruitful, align with your values, and be one in which you both benefit from in the longterm.
You may not know which questions to ask on your “dating” journey, so I've compiled a list to help guide you through this process. Many of the agency's answers will hint if there are any red flags. Some of these questions you will ask yourself or your team in preparation for partnership, others you will ask the agency directly. Let's get started!
1. What am I looking for an agency to do?
You may already have a marketing team in place and just need strategy. You may already have a strategic plan but need a team to implement it. Take time to map out your goals and resources available so that you have a better understanding of what you need from partnering with an agency.
2. What is your expertise?
If they say “everything,” run! We know that you can’t truly be all things to all people and serve everyone well. You want to work with an agency that knows who they are, what they are good at, and who they can help. Whether that is social media ads, content creation, branding, or print, you want to find an agency that is a great fit for the type of work you need in order to grow.
3. What are your core values?
Core values are more important than just a company motto. Core values drive and motivate the team to maintain focus on what is important to the company and the clients. If their core values do not seem to align with your mission you may want to look elsewhere.
4. Are they a good culture fit?
This is clearly not a question you will ask them to their face, but keep this in mind as you learn about the company. You can learn a lot about a company’s culture from their core values, style of communication, and reputation.
5. Are they familiar with your industry?
This isn’t always a must, but it can be beneficial if the agency has tried and true tactics that can be implemented for your particular industry. If they haven’t worked in your particular industry you might ask what ideas they would bring to the table to ensure success to your campaign. Even if they haven’t worked in your industry, there may be practices that they have that have been proven to succeed across platforms.
6. Do you have case studies or references?
Seeing samples of work or a detailed overview of a successful campaign is a must. At the very least, ask for references from a current or recent client. This is a great way to also get a feel for their company culture.
7. Is all the work done in-house?
This may not be a deal breaker, but it is very important information. Teams that were closely together and communicate daily often have an easier time coordinating on a project.
8. What will be expected of me as a client?
Some agencies are more hands on than others. Just like some clients prefer constant communication and updates, others do not have the time for much back and forth. You will want to make sure that the level of involvement they are expecting is something that you can provide and vice versa.
9. What is the onboarding process like?
You may have had a great experience with a company’s sales process, but things may change once you have been handed over to the production team. Ask the agency for an overview of what the first 6 weeks look like for your particular engagement.
10. How and when will I receive communication about my project?
Many agencies use project management tools that can also be used for communication purposes. Find out who your point of contact will be and how often you will receive updates. Digital marketing is not a fix-it-and-forget-it approach, which means any proficient agency will be tracking and analyzing the performance of your project and will likely have monthly or quarterly updates to present.
11. Who do I call if I have a problem?
It is likely that the agency will assign a particular person as your point of contact. Is there anyone else you may need to reach out to if an issue arises? When will they be available? Do they have a direct number? What is their process for weekend emergencies?
12. How long until completion of my project?
If you are doing ongoing work there may not be a “completion” phase per say. But knowing the timeline for the various phases will be very helpful in your decision making process.
13. Upon completion of my project, what do I actually own?
You would be surprised how many times we have heard, “I ended my engagement with a previous agency and they took our website down.” Don’t let this happen to you. Find out before signing an agreement what you can expect should the engagement come to an end.
14. When will I see results?
Though there is no hard and fast rule that can be applied across the board, your agency should have a good idea for what you can expect in regards to results. If they are implementing campaigns that they are familiar with, they will likely knew from experience.
Be weary of anyone whose promises seem too good to be true. The well-known adage applies here as much as anywhere else: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Realistic results are better than pie-in-the-sky wishes.
15. Are there products that I will need to budget for outside of your services?
It is not uncommon for agencies that work with specific softwares and tools to require the purchase of some of these tools in order to carry out the work requested. The price range varies for startup tools to enterprise level solutions. Even though this may be something you are already familiar with, take note of the level of transparency the agency has about these additional investments.
16. What is considered a “rush” project and will there be fees involved?
Depending on the scope of work you are looking at and the types of needs you have as a client, you may find yourself in a position where additional requests arise, some of them being requests that have a tight turnaround.
While most agencies are equipped to handle these requests, there will likely be a minimum amount of working hours that they will need in order to fulfill it. Since this often requires shifting their priorities with little notice, you may expect to be charged a rush fee. As this is pretty standard with agencies, you will want to know what that rush charge will be before requesting this type of work.
17. Tell me about a recent project that was not successful.
Even though most people will squirm in their seats at this question, if you can find an agency that gives an honest answer, you will know that this is a transparent company to work with. The value lies in if they learned from that situation and what changes they will implement next time.
Choosing a digital marketing agency to work with can be daunting. However, with a good set of questions to guide you and if you have already detailed what your goals are for your company you should be able to find an agency that is a good fit over all that leads to a successful partnership!