Looking to hire a marketing agency but don’t know where to start?

Before you decide to commit to a marketing agency, it’s crucial to first understand what a marketing agency does, what services they provide, and especially how they can help your business.

In this article, we will answer the question “what is a marketing agency?”, “how do marketing agencies work?”, and other things you should know so you can choose the best marketing agency for your business.

How Do Marketing Agencies Work?

First, what actually is a “marketing agency”?

A marketing agency, also typically called a marketing firm, is a business/organization that develops, implements, and manages sustainable marketing strategies for other businesses.

Businesses of any size can outsource their marketing efforts to a marketing agency to improve their marketing efforts in achieving their marketing objectives.

While the actual scope of the marketing project might vary depending on various factors, typically a marketing agency’s services will cover three key areas: 

  • Developing marketing strategies: assessing the client’s current needs and potential opportunities that can be leveraged to develop the best possible marketing strategies for the client.
  • Implementing marketing campaigns: based on the strategies developed above, the marketing agency will help the client in implementing the marketing solutions
  • Monitoring and evaluation: the marketing agency monitor the marketing campaigns and efforts and improve the strategies when needed

In practice, different marketing agencies may offer different marketing services, and this is where it’s important to pick a marketing agency that is experienced in your industry and/or has the skills to execute specific marketing services you need.

Different Types of Marketing Agencies

We can generally divide marketing agencies into two basic types: full-service and specialist.

1. Full-Service Marketing Agency

A full-service marketing agency will cover all (or at least, most) of the client’s marketing needs from strategy development to execution to monitoring, and will also cover services in a range of marketing campaigns, including but not limited to:

  • Content marketing
  • SEO strategies
  • Social media marketing (including influencer marketing and social media advertising)
  • PPC ads
  • Website development and maintenance
  • Email marketing
  • Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
  • Reputation management

2. Specialist Marketing Agency

A specialist marketing agency, (or specialized marketing agency or boutique marketing agency) will provide one or more of the marketing services listed above.

For example, an inbound marketing agency may provide content marketing and SEO services, while another agency might specialize in social media marketing and influencer marketing.

As you might have guessed, typically a specialist marketing agency will be more affordable (but not always) than a full-service agency. If your business only needs help in one or more marketing campaigns, then hiring a boutique agency can be a more cost-effective choice.

How To Choose a Marketing Agency

Choosing the right marketing agency for you can be a very intimidating task, and you might need to consider many different factors including the industry you’re in, your target audience, goals, and obviously, budget.

Below, we’ll discuss some key considerations you should have when weighing between different agencies:

1. Industry experience

In general, you’d want to work with an agency that has an adequate amount of experience in your industry. Choose an agency that already understands your industry and the marketing strategies/campaigns that work in your specific industry to attract more customers.

Besides industry/niche, you should also evaluate their previous clients whether they’ve worked with businesses of your size in the past. Agencies that often work with small businesses might not be effective in developing a marketing strategy for larger companies, and vice versa.

2. Transparency

Ask the marketing agency what type of information they’ll need before they can begin your project, and on the other hand, ask them how they’ll do their work.

A good marketing agency will clearly discuss their working processes and the methods they’ll use to execute your project. If an agency won’t tell your their method due to “trade secrets”, then it’s actually a major red flag.

They should be able to tell you who exactly will be handling your account, why they choose a particular campaign, and when the deadline will be.

3. Technology

Today’s digital marketing agencies must rely on the right technology solutions, or else they won’t be effective in helping your business. Ask whether they have a sufficient infrastructure to facilitate real-time communication. Function Point’s agency software, for example, will help marketing agencies to more efficiently manage their workflows in executing the client’s projects while also optimizing internal collaborations.

You should look for agencies that are capable of using monitoring and analytics tools to help analyze your performance and identify opportunities, and also generate intuitive reports to help you track their progress.

4. Specialization

As discussed above, some agencies might specialize in certain marketing services, so it’s crucial to choose one that specializes in marketing campaigns and tactics you’ll need.

Also, some agencies might specialize in reaching a specific target market. This is also a key consideration to ask when interviewing different agencies. Check whether they are familiar with your target audience and their behaviors so you can be sure they’ll use the right marketing strategies that will be effective in reaching and convincing your ideal customers.

5. KPIs

Ask them what marketing KPIs do they focus on. In the end, when working with a marketing agency, you are essentially making an investment, so you’d want to check the ROI of your investment and whether the money and time you’ve spent working with this outside firm will be worth it.

Check how this agency will measure and analyze results, and ask them what kinds of results you can expect realistically.

Closing Thoughts

If you are currently struggling in achieving your marketing objectives or in reaching your customers, then you should consider hiring a marketing agency. However, it’s also crucial to choose the right marketing agency according to your needs, objectives, and budget so you can maximize the ROI while successfully acquiring new customers with your new marketing agency partner.

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