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  • Writer's pictureTangelo Media

How SMBs Can Choose the Right Agency Partner

Part One

When you're an SMB with limited resources, hiring a marketing or advertising agency partner can be time-consuming and nerve-wracking. What if you hire the wrong firm? What if you don't get results? Or what if they don't fit in with your company culture? These are all relevant concerns, and while you can't prepare for every possible scenario, there are steps you can follow to ensure that you perform your due diligence adequately. In part one of our three-part blog series, Tangelo Media will break down the fundamental questions that you should ask to identify an agency's capabilities, areas of expertise, and relevant experience. In Part, Two, we will explore how to understand best the agency's working style and what you can expect in your daily interactions. Finally, in part three, we will delve into finding the partner that will best fit your company culture. So, let's get started!

1. What is their experience and expertise in your industry? If this is their first time working with clients in your sector, how would they get up to speed? Why should you hire their firm instead of one specializing in your vertical?

  • These questions help determine if the agency has relevant knowledge and understanding of your specific market, target audience, and industry dynamics and how they would do their homework if necessary.

2. What is their main area of expertise? Do they specialize in brand strategy, web development, ad campaigns, creative, custom content, SEO, social media, etc?

  • Most small to medium size agencies do not have the bandwidth to be all things to all people, so it's essential to understand where their specific expertise lies and whether that matches your goals. For example, suppose you are trying to improve your search engine optimization. In that case, consider an agency that focuses explicitly on that or has a partner specializing in SEO. Digital marketing requires so many unique skill sets that, in some cases, you may need to work with multiple partners to get the full support you need.

3. Can they provide examples of successful campaigns they've worked on and provide tangible data points that show results? For instance, if that agency specializes in brand strategy, how did they increase brand engagement after their plan was executed?

  • Requesting case studies or examples of past campaigns gives you insights into their creativity, strategic thinking, and ability to deliver results.

4. What is their approach to developing a marketing strategy? What is the timing? How do they go about getting the background information that they need? How much involvement will be required from your team?

  • Understanding their methodology for crafting a marketing strategy will help you assess if it aligns with your brand vision and goals.

5. How do they measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns?

  • Inquire about the agency's metrics and analytics practices to ensure a robust system is in place for tracking and evaluating campaign performance.

6. What is their process for developing creative concepts?

  • Knowing how they generate ideas, involve clients in the creative process, and handle revisions can help gauge their collaborative approach and flexibility.

7. How do they determine media placement and optimize ad spending? This question is only relevant if they conduct an ad campaign on your behalf. But you can modify this question accordingly. For example, how would you determine the best social media channels for us?

  • Assess their media planning capabilities and ability to optimize ad placements across different channels to maximize reach and impact while staying within budget.

8. How do they stay updated on the latest advertising trends and technologies?

  • Advertising is a dynamic field, so the agency must keep up with the fast pace of the changing landscape to ensure it can leverage new opportunities.

9. What is their team structure, and who will be your primary contact points?

  • Establishing the day-to-day working dynamic is vital because your company will often interact with the most senior people during the interview process but have much lower-level contact for daily interactions. Understanding the agency's team composition and knowing who will be responsible for your account will help you establish effective communication channels.

10. What is their pricing structure?

  • Ask about their fee structure and any additional costs associated with their services to ensure it aligns with your budget and financial expectations.

11. Can they provide client references?

  • Requesting references allows you to speak directly with their existing clients to get insights into their working relationship, satisfaction, and overall experience.

So, now that you have an idea of the areas you should explore before hiring an agency, remember that it's also crucial for you to prepare before the interview. A good agency will ask you questions as well. Before meeting with potential partners, you should establish a clear set of goals, ideas for methods you want to explore to achieve your goals, a designated budget, the competitive landscape, etc. Preparation ensures that both parties are using their time as effectively as possible. And only ask the agency to create a full-blown marketing campaign if you are ready to pay for it if you don't hire them. While it's normal for large agencies to fulfill that request, it puts a resource constraint on smaller firms and means they are giving away their intellectual property for free.

Check back next week for Part Two of our Three Part Series!

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