You know you need someone else to handle your marketing, you are tired of the Yellow Pages and traditional advertising, and/or you want to increase your leads and sales, but you aren’t sure where to turn. There are tons of inbound marketing agencies out there, and as the consumer, you have plenty of choices. The beauty of inbound marketing is that it is almost exclusively digital, and therefore, you aren’t just restricted to agencies in your area. Here at Rhino, we have clients in several states and across the country!
With all these options, how do know who to choose or what to look for? You are probably looking to partner with an agency because marketing isn’t your strong suit, so how are you supposed to know what makes an agency “good”? I will be discussing 9 different things to look for when hiring an inbound marketing agency.1. They offer all the services you need
This should be the first thing you search for when researching different agencies. You want to be sure that they offer the services you want or need. If you need a new website and want to focus on SEO, it should be abundantly clear whether or not a potential agency does this or not. A good agency should list exactly what services they provide. Always send an email to confirm this just to be sure, and see how much detail the agency goes into on the topic. Do they seem very knowledgeable on the subject, or does it seem like they are making stuff up?
- Possible Red Flag: The agency website doesn’t disclose their services beyond very vague and broad terms.
A large part of inbound marketing is website optimization and SEO, so if an agency’s website is messy and clunky, you should probably look elsewhere. A first impression really is hard to change. It should be very easy to navigate to every page, find contact information, learn more about the agency, and find any other relevant info. Within seconds of landing on the homepage, can you figure out what the agency does? Does it pass the “blink test”?
- Possible Red Flag: The website is littered with ads and pop ups, and it is simply not pleasant or enjoyable to click through.
You should be able to find the contact information for the agency quickly and simply, either through the website or other sources like social media. There should be an email or contact form and a phone number. If you have to click on five different buttons and search through page after page, you have to wonder whether the agency is purposely trying to sabotage themselves.
- Possible Red Flag: If you can’t find a single way to contact the agency, don’t bother! If you have to pay money or anything along those lines to reveal contact info, run as fast as you can.
Once you decide to contact an agency, pay attention to how they handle your contact. If you choose to email, take note of how long it takes the agency to respond. More than a week is worrying unless this is an incredibly busy agency with a small staff or something. If you call, notice how you are treated and spoken to. Do they sound friendly and excited to hear from you, or do they sound distracted and upset like you are inconvenience? An agency is going to be your partner, you need to feel comfortable and friendly with them.
- Possible Red Flag: The agency never responds to your email or doesn’t respond in a nice way. If you call, you constantly get a voicemail and no return call.
A great way to gauge whether an agency would be an appropriate fit is to check out their previous work for other clients. Hopefully, the agency has some case studies on their website showing off some of their best examples. They also might have a list of previous clients, which you can research. You want some reassurance that you aren’t this agency’s first client (although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it isn’t always a positive either).
- Possible Red Flag: The agency doesn’t disclose any previous work or previous clients.
Some agencies might have a pricing page, and others might request that you email for an assessment or consultation. Whatever it takes, you need to know what the agency is going to be charging you. Know what you want to spend beforehand and stick to that when trying to decide between different agencies. Also, know whether the agency charges monthly, annually, or by project. Always ask for more details.
- Possible Red Flag: You can’t get a straight answer from the agency regarding pricing. They will dance around the topic or give vague estimates.
You want an agency that is experienced, knowledgeable, and creative. You don’t want to be sold a cookie-cutter marketing plan that they use with every single client. The agency should figure out exactly what your goals are and create a plan specifically geared to achieve those goals. You are turning towards an agency because you want professional help with marketing, so you shouldn’t settle for an agency that pitches you a plan you could have come up with yourself.
- Possible Red Flag: The agency constantly pushes one specific plan on you that is not relevant to your business at all. They are not willing to work with you to create something new and innovative.
You should know what you are getting into before you write the first check. What is the agency expecting from you? Are they going to call you every week to check in and give you updates? Are they expecting your constant input and approval? It should be clear from the get go what the relationship will be like and what each of you wants. Also know what to expect in terms of billing.
- Possible Red Flag: The agency expects a ton of work from you and constant communication. You shouldn’t feel responsible for everything since that is why you chose a partnership in the first place.
Is the “agency” just one dude working from his apartment? Do you even know? It’s not necessary to know the name of every person working there, but you should have some idea of who works at this agency and maybe a sense of their background. How long has this agency been in business, and how long have the employees worked in this industry? Many agencies will list this on their website for transparency sake and to show potential customers who they are hiring.
- Possible Red Flag: If the workforce is a total of one person, you have to wonder how much work this agency is capable of doing and doing well.