There are plenty of resources on why you need marketing, and why it’s cheaper and more effective to hire a marketing firm instead of a marketing employee. However, there are fewer resources on how to select a marketing company. Here are the tips we give to friends and clients.
1. Learn What You Are Looking For
Marketing is a blanket term for many services and, likely, you’ll need help in a few specific areas. Where to start? Before they hire a marketing company, we recommend you first list three concrete changes you’d like to make. Then, then develop a plan of action based on your budget. Common areas of improvement include:
- Higher sales
- More attractive website
- More donations (for nonprofits)
- More engagement with customers (social media, email)
- Consistent branding across mediums
- Better SEO
- Getting contact information from potential clients
The more specific you can be, the better.
For example, don’t just say you want a better website. Say you want a website that loads more quickly, and that is picture friendly. Another example: Don’t just say you want an email campaign. Say what the campaign needs to accomplish—for example, you want to boost sales of a new product by 20% in six months.
If you’re a local business, like we are, your task may require niche knowledge. Maine digital marketing firms, for example, probably have more familiarity with the state’s fishing culture that marketing firms in, say, Nevada. If you are a nonprofit representing fishermen, that’s something to consider.
Ask you start developing these goals, you can ask questions of marketing firms that are equally specific: “Can you show me an example of how you’ve represented fishermen?” or “Can you show me an example of an email campaign that helped a client improve sales?” It’s an exercise in knowing what you need.
2. Know Your Budget, And How Much It Costs To Hire A Marketing Firm
Very few digital marketing firms will work for less than $1,000 a month, and they will likely want to work on projects that are ongoing rather than one-off.
There are exceptions. We, for example, often accept lesser projects to begin a relationship. However, we prefer long-term work because its easier to provide a good product when we know a client. Also, we’re a business, too. Larger retainers are more attractive than smaller ones.
So, take a sober look at your bank account. How much are you willing to spend? Better yet, how much can you budget for each month? If that makes you nervous, spills the beans. Tell the marketing firm your budget. If it’s very low, they may do the work over a longer period or cut you a deal. If they tell you to look elsewhere, it wasn’t a good fit, anyway. There are plenty of marketing firms out there.
3. Know Your Timeline
It can take a few months to find the right marketing firm. In some cases, it’s years. That doesn’t account for you changing marketing firms (which can present its own challenges). Based on that alone, you want to start poking around at least a few months ahead of your deadlines, longer if it’s for something major, like a new website.
We give related advice for ongoing work, as well as the frequency of communication between clients and marketing companies.
For example, we find some clients want frequent updates on large projects. Others are too busy for that. Some don’t know until the work begins. In all these scenarios, remember you’re basically in a relationship. It’s all about communication. And that, generally, is how things should be with your marketing firm: communicative, equal feeling, challenging yet rewarding.