What You Need to Know Before You Hire a Digital Marketing Agency

By Raubi Perilli |

  | Jan 31, 2018  /  Solutions |

You hire a digital marketing agency because you want help, input, and expertise. You want to give marketing control to a competent partner who can successfully and effectively execute the strategies for you. But, you can’t do that before doing a little work of your own.  

For a business to hire a digital marketing agency that will give them the results they want, a brand must start by collecting foundational information that will give the agency what they need to be successful.  

This foundational information gives the digital marketing agency the ability to make the best decisions for your brand, and it also gives you the knowledge and foresight to pick the best potential partner. The rest of this post will tell you what you need to know before you hire a potential digital marketing agency.

#1) Your Current Marketing Situation

Before you start talking to potential agency partners, you need have a strong understanding of what marketing initiatives you have already completed or have in progress. The last thing you want to do is hire a company to do work for you that you already have completed.  

So spend some time reviewing all of your current marketing assets and plans.  

  1. Do a content audit. Collect all consumer-facing media assets. This includes print content such as business cards, one-sheets, flyers, etc. It also includes any digital content such as blog posts, landing pages, case studies, etc. You probably have more content than you think, and that content will come in handy as it will both educate your potential digital marketing partner and give them a head-start on creating new content for you.
  2. Do a digital profile audit. A lot of new or small businesses have a habit of setting up social media profiles then forgetting about them or failing to use them. You want to be aware of all the profiles you have created before you hire a digital marketing agency as you don’t want to create new profiles if you already have existing accounts. So, create a list of all of your live social and digital profiles.
  3. List your marketing initiatives. A digital marketing agency will likely start at the very beginning and build a marketing strategy that starts with foundational basics unless you give them a reason to do otherwise. If you don’t want them to start at the very beginning, create a list of marketing campaigns and initiatives you have already launched or executed.
  4. Include every department. As you collect the information listed in this section, remember to send requests to every department in your business. While you may think all of these assets will be related to your marketing department, you may be surprised what other departments (especially sales and admin) have created on their own. So don’t assume your marketing audit is over until your entire organization has had an opportunity to provide information.

This list of information helps both you and your potential agency partner. You get a better picture of your current marketing situation which helps you identify assets, holes, and needs in your strategy. And, your potential partner gets foundational information that will enable them to set up a better plan for your business (which is a win for you too).

#2) Your Marketing Goals

There is one question that almost all businesses owners get wrong when asked about their company. The question is, “What are your marketing goals?”  

Many business owners get this answer wrong because they respond by saying, “make more money” or “get more customers.” While, yes, those are admirable goals and every business wants to see those results, they are not meaningful goals. They are impractical goals because they are vague and generic.  

A strong goal is concrete and narrow. It is SMART: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Sensitive

You can’t reach a goal if you don’t know when you get there. And, if you don’t know exactly where you want to go, it’s a lot harder to get there. So you must have clear-cut goals that both you and your marketing partner can aim for and accurately measure.

A few marketing goals you may want to consider before you hire a digital marketing agency include the following:  

  • Build brand awareness
  • Increase sales
  • Expand into a new market
  • Increase profit
  • Target new customers
  • Develop brand affinity and loyalty
  • Launch new products or services
  • Grow market share of current product or services

Going into a conversation with a potential marketing partner with a list of SMART goals will make your meeting and relationship more productive. Early on, you can set clear plans that will outline your strategy and help you measure your success.

#3) Your Target Audience

Another question many business owners get wrong about their brand is, “Who is your target audience?”  

Because business owners don’t want to exclude potential customers, many answer this questions with a broad, all-encompassing answer. For example, an eye doctor may answer the question saying, “Anyone who has eyes.”  

But, like your goals, your target audience should be extremely specific and concrete. It should not be vague and sweeping.  

So before you talk to a potential digital marketing agency, create a specific description of your ideal customer. Create a buyer persona that you can hand over to your agency so they can accelerate their understanding of your customers.    

To craft a buyer persona, create a description that includes the following details about one your ideal customer.  

  • Demographic Details: age, gender, location, family situation, annual income, education
  • Professional Details: industry, job title, company size
  • Values & Goals: beliefs, characteristics of personality, professional & personal goals
  • Challenges: pain points, fears
  • Buying Habits: where they buy, how they buy, how they research before they buy

A good digital marketing agency may work with you to refine your buyer persona. But, it helps to have at least a general idea about who you want to target before bringing on a partner.  

A partner may be able to use business data and analytics to help you develop and better define your customer persona, but you will always be able to offer the best insight into who you designed your business, products, or services for. So bring this information to the table as you interview potential partners.

#4) Your Industry Competitors

Another insight you can bring to the table as you hire a digital marketing agency is information related to your competitors.  

Knowing your competitors offers valuable insight to a marketing partner. It can help them better understand your business and your customers. It offers them insight into what other businesses in your space are doing (so they can learn from their successes and mistakes). And, it helps them know how much work they need to do to compete with other businesses like you.  

As with buyer personas, some agencies may be able to help you dive deeper into a competitor analysis. They may have tools and systems that offer more insight into your industry. But, don’t fully rely on a digital marketing agency for initial information. Come to the first meeting with a least a small list of your competitors to help get the research headed in the right direction from the start.  

#5) Your Budget

The last piece of information you should have before you hire a digital marketing agency is your budget. Your budget will be one of the first things a potential partner asks for. It’s typically even in the contact form you fill out before you talk to an agency. 

So you should have an idea about what you want to spend before you begin reaching out to potential partners.  

You don’t need to know how much you want to spend on individual marketing strategies. You should leave that up to your agency. But, you should know how much you want to spend for the year, a few months, or duration of your digital marketing contract.  

To help you figure out that number consider:  

  • Your current marketing situation: If you're starting from scratch, you’ll likely need a higher budget than if you already have launched some successful initiatives.
  • Your goals: If you have ambitious goals, you’ll likely need a higher budget.
  • Your competition: If you are in a competitive industry, you may need to spend more than if you are in a space with less competition.
  • Your gross revenue: Many businesses choose to determine their marketing budget by setting it as 2-12% of their gross revenue.
  • Your product and service margins: How much you make from a sale of your products or services can also help you determine how much to spend on marketing your offerings. If margins are extremely high, you may be able to spend more.

There is no simple formula for determining your marketing budget. But this information should help you shape an estimated budget that an agency can work with. You can review it with the information you collected in this audit to come together to create a finalized budget that will help your business reach your goals.  

As you put together a budget remember -- marketing is an investment, not just a cost for your business.

And, as long as you use the right foundational information to set up a smart marketing strategy, the investment will pay off. So if you are getting ready to hire a digital marketing agency, bring all of the information outlined in this article to initial meetings to make sure you get the best return on your marketing investment.   

Is It Time to Hire a Digital Marketing Agency?

Now that you have what you need to successfully hire a digital marketing agency, is it time for your brand to find a partner?  

If so, we’d love to see if we could be that partner. MyArea Network offers a variety of digital marketing services and packages for small, locally owned businesses to large, franchises and big brands.  

We specialize in connecting business with the large base of customers near them, and we look forward to building bridges between your brand and customers in your area. Schedule a free consultation to see how we can help.