How do you hire a marketing agency you can trust?
You can throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks – or you can find people you trust that have worked with an agency and ask them.
But what if you’re not connected? Use this list for really quick tips on choosing a marketing agency in a smart way.
It all started with a tweet from the awesome marketer John Doherty.
I'm curious – if you've hired an agency before, what are the things you looked for that made you say "I'm hiring this one"?
— John Doherty #maskupCO (@dohertyjf) November 10, 2020
Table of Contents
Meet the people from the team you’ll be working with
“Definitely meeting the team that you will actually be working with, relevant client work, price of course and I want to hear advanced levels of thinking. So many teams come in with this is what we are going to get you, but not telling me how. I want to hear the how.” – DumkeBallz on Twitter
Focus on one specific channel first
“If you’re a consumer business just starting, you should focus on one distribution channel at a time and crush it. Someone asked me how we launched and supported AMZN, TGT and DTC at the same time. Answer – We didn’t. We focused on AMZN. Then DTC. Then TGT. Be disciplined.” –
Make sure they understand your goals
“I interviewed 5 companies after looking at dozens. I chose the agency based on how well they understood my goals and the type of proposal they laid out.” – Axiom The Wise on Twitter
Communication & Expertise
“Nothing beats 1. Communication. 2. Expertise (ability to deliver). Everything else is fluff. I vet them on how responsive & detail oriented they are. I then look at their previous work to establish if they can deliver. I also do a bit of research to see if they have positive reviews/ratings. I find stuff like similar company culture, fancy reports etc useless.” – Ahmad Raza
Look for companies that are low on overhead / project management
“Work with the people who do the work. Account managers need to go. They add cost and slow the process. I can manage the people. I need worker bees with expertise!” – Brett Rudy
Make sure they really listen to you
“Here we go…. 1. They answer my tech questions correctly 2. Not always, but they are rec’d by a trusted colleague or I know them 3. They provide a sample of their work so I can confirm it is not an SEMrush audit 4. There is effort in their presentation 5. They listen. That last one is very hard for agencies. Some agencies work by project and some on an annual blueprint. I clearly communicate I just want a project and some keep trying to shove the annual blueprint my way. SMH. Some cannot adapt.” – Garth O’Brien
Look for innovative companies – see through BS
“I’ve hired several. I mainly look for innovative approaches in their case studies, anything we haven’t already thought of. Also, transparency when they share results from their case studies, do they get into the details. My BS meter is always on high during agency pitches.” – Shawn Cohen
Items 3 other people mentioned:
- Meeting the team, not just the sales team
- Similar culture
- Long term, relevant clients
- Being able to demonstrate practice, not just theory
- Clearly understand our priorities + way of working
- Acceptable level of risk
- Proven ability to the work.
- Deep understanding of my business.
- Intimate understanding of my vision.
- Ideas that are better than my own.
- Execution above and beyond what my team can deliver.
- Straight talk no BS promises.
- Team chemistry.
- Strong recommendations from people I trust.
- Speak to Referrals
My perspective on how to choose a great marketing agency:
You want someone you can trust.
How you get to trust is up to you.
I’d choose someone that lines up with your worldview:
- Do you believe in quantity of effort, or do you believe in a lot of deliberation?
- Is quality of absolute importance? Or is it just plain wrong to go the cheap route?
Whatever your strong take on business – make sure they line up with it.
- Look at reviews.
- Look at case studies.
- Ensure they listen
- Understand the strategy
- Establish metrics to judge effectiveness.
- Hold them accountable.
I hope this is useful to you – and that it’s easier for you in the future to choose a marketing agency!