Unlocking Success: What to Look for in a Marketing Agency
By Eva Fellner
As the foundation of your company’s image, marketing and advertising can be difficult for businesses to manage on their own. While several businesses can (and do!) research, design and place advertisements with an in-house team, it might be time to explore new options if increased responsibilities and goals start compromising your marketing efforts.
If, for example, strategy is taking up too much time or you’re simply unsure how to take your advertising to the next level, an agency might be the logical nextstep.
Is It Time to Hire an Agency?
Do those scenarios above seem all too familiar? Most definitely? Then it’s time to hire an agency. Hiring an agency that aligns with your brand’s vision can alleviate stress and create consistent positive outcomes.
Agencies bring expertise and resources. They have teams of marketing professionals ready to work on all aspects of your advertising, giving your business the attention to detail it deserves. They’re also dedicated to the industry and can draw experience from past clientele and campaigns. If you pick the right agency, they’ll deliver effective messaging that increases awareness and drives results. Additionally, agencies also offer:
- Industry connections
- A unified team effort
- Budget management
- Fresh perspectives
It’s no secret that owning and operating a business is hard work. So don’t let your advertising and marketing slip through the cracks!
The Types of Agencies
There are several types of agencies out there, but we’re going to focus on the four main ones: creative, digital, public relations (PR) and full-service.
- Creative agencies focus primarily on strategy and design to convey your brand story to the world. Typically specializing in graphic design, web development, copywriting and technological integration, creative agencies seek new channels to get your messaging out there. A good creative agency understands your brand inside and out, designing messaging that reflects the brand as a whole. Clients that mainly need creative direction or development might want a creative agency.
- Digital agencies target their efforts in website design and development, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, online lead generation, ROI assessments and more. If you’re looking to boost rankings and the overall performance of your ads, then a digital agency might be your best option. With a digital agency, you’ll find the most cost-effective efforts aimed specifically at your target audience.
- Public relations agencies are most concerned with public image. They offer primary services in media relations, public affairs and crisis management, helping businesses manage their reputations and create comprehensive plans to handle any potential crises. Because this type of agency builds and maintains public image, those looking to mitigate risks and foster a more positive relationship with the public are served best by a PR agency.
- Full-service marketing agencies like Ideas Collide combine creative, digital and PR into one agency that can do it all. At Ideas Collide we take any marketing challenge, invent custom solutions and integrate each solution through content and media channels to drive impact. Not only do full-service agencies maintain continuity and brand standards in numerous campaigns, but they also help streamline all aspects of your strategy into one unified marketing plan. A full-service agency can help you achieve creative alignment, data-driven results and PR management. For businesses wanting a comprehensive marketing plan, this type of agency is the ideal choice.
Choosing the Right Agency
So, you’ve decided to hire an agency to maximize your advertising potential. But where to start? First, ask yourself a few key questions:
- Why am I looking to hire an agency?
- What specific goals do I hope to achieve with an agency?
- Which type of agency fits my needs best, or could I benefit from all of them?
Once you know what you need, you can begin the search!
With so many agencies out there, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of portfolios, case studies and mission statements. To narrow down potential agencies and find the one that fits your company best, begin by exploring their website, portfolio and general reputation (poking through social media can give you a good feel for this). Is their website well designed and attuned to the user experience? Does their portfolio reflect high-quality work with past clients attesting to their capabilities? Do they have a favorable industry reputation?
These three questions can help you narrow down potential agencies quickly. After all, you wouldn’t want to work with an agency that can’t hone their design skills on their own website or social media, let alone your own.
Beginning the Search
While on the hunt for an agency, it’s important to identify one that complements your values and overall vision. This can help you avoid potential conflict and any misaligned marketing.
Steer clear of agencies that resist change, and be open to new ideas and directions that can help your business grow! Agencies should help you achieve your goals, working to make informed, data-driven decisions and mobilizing their creative efforts to help your business stand out. However, agencies are more than just a workhorse. A successful agency-client relationship is based on trust. As an extension of your company, agencies function best when there is clear communication, mutual confidence in one another and overall belief in the product itself.
Long-Term Benefits of Agency Work
Hiring an agency gives your brand long-term consistency. With the right help, your agency will feel like an extension of your business that understands your story, products, services and core values.
Commitment is key. The more committed you are to your partnership, the more they’ll see your vision and invest in your long-term success. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship: Client success drives more opportunities for the agency, which in turn helps them further invest in their clients.
What’s more, long-lasting relationships with agencies creates greater historical knowledge of an organization’s products and services, goals, successes and failures. And this gives the agency a leg up on providing the best solutions and potential new directions for your business. While seeking out this kind of partnership, remember that as businesses scale, so can full-service agencies. Working with a specialized agency might fit your needs at one time, but your business may require new services as it grows, forcing you to manage two (or more) agencies at once. This also means ensuring the agencies are on the same page with your company’s history, branding, values and more.
While each agency offers unique services, full-service marketing agencies are typically the best route for businesses that want to revamp their marketing efforts and further their messaging.