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5 Steps for Selecting the Right Marketing Agency

The Bones:

  • Define Your Objectives & Prioritize Your Needs
  • Understand Your Options
  • Research & Down Select
  • Interview
  • Make Your Choice

The Meat:

When I was in college, one of my classes was dedicated almost entirely to visiting different marketing and advertising agencies around the state of Utah. The class would jump in a big van and visit most of the notable agencies around Northern Utah. THAT was my class. Yup, it was incredible. One of my favorite classes of all time. 

Some might think this would be boring or a waste of time, and to be honest, for some people maybe it was. Not for me, however. I found it very educational and extremely interesting. I made the most of my time, learning about the strengths and weaknesses of each agency and what made some stand out from the rest.

This experience, in addition to years of working for and with agencies, has given me a unique perspective on how to shop for and select the right marketing agency for your needs. These 5 steps will help make the experience faster, smoother and more enjoyable. 

1. Define Your Objectives & Prioritize Your Needs

Before you start your search, I recommend that you first define your objectives and prioritize your needs. If your main objective is to improve your SEO rankings, then an agency that specializes in video production but also offers SEO services on the side probably won’t be the best option. Keep in mind that most agencies have a “we can do that too” mentality. You could ask if they could print billboards or build school playgrounds, and they would find a way to do it for you. With a 20-30% mark-up, of course. 😉 Do your best to find an agency that specializes in your area of greatest need.

When you begin the Research and Down Selection process, make sure to keep your objectives top of mind. They should always be your Northern Star.

2. Understand Your Options

If you know me or have read any of my other articles, you know that I like to ask a lot of questions to help me understand what options are available. Here are a few I like to ask when shopping for a marketing agency:

  • Why do you want to hire an agency in the first place?
  • Are you sure an agency is the right direction? (see my article about outsourcing)
  • Do you need a local marketing agency so you can interact in person?
  • Are time zones an issue? Or are oversea agencies an option?
  • What is your budget? What can you afford?
  • What job are you hiring an agency to do?
  • Do you need multiple specialized agencies? Or is a single more generalized agency preferred?
  • How long do you need an agency?
  • Are you biased towards one agency or another? If so, why?

Notice that all of these questions are specific to your situation and not any particular agency. Answering these questions, and others like them will help you understand your options. For example, if you don’t have much budget to work with, your options will narrow by default. 

3. Research & Down Select

Now that you have your objectives defined and understand your options, the research phase should go a lot faster and smoother. To kick off your research, consider these recommendations.

  • Search Google Maps for local options if you want to be able to interact in person
  • Ask your network for recommendations
  • Ask others in your field or industry for recommendations (Facebook or LinkedIn Groups can be very helpful)
  • Run a few very keyword specific Google searches (Ex. Utah Marketing Agency or Utah Design Shop)
  • Pay close attention to Google reviews
  • Look for case studies and/or testimonials on their website
  • Try to find reputable companies they have serviced in the past (Most agencies will showcase logos or work they have done on their sites)

This is the phase where you want to begin asking more agency-specific rather than situational questions. For example:

  • How expensive is the agency compared to others?
  • How does the agency bill?
  • How long has the agency been in business? 
  • What is the reputation of the marketing agency? What do others say about them?
  • What are the agency’s strengths and weaknesses? What do they specialize in?
  • How tenured are the people that would work on your account?
  • Where are they based out of? Do they have a local presence? 
  • Are contracts required? If so, how long are the contracts for?

During this phase, you should take note of all the agencies you like and rank them based on how well you believe they will help you reach your objectives. After you have compiled a list of 15-20 agencies, begin downselecting until you have your 5-10 top candidates.

4. Interview

Now that you have your top candidates, now is the time to start interviewing. This is very similar to an in-house interview process. The goal is to find the marketing agency that is the best fit for your needs and culture. As such, the questions that you ask during these interviews should align with this goal. I recommend that you try to limit your interviews to your top 5 candidates. If needed, have a second round of interviews with your two favorite candidates.

5. Make Your Choice

Once the interview process is complete it is time to make the final decision and notify the agency of choice. If necessary, make sure to include others on your team while making this decision.

While I thoroughly enjoyed my college course and highly recommend visiting as many agencies as time allows, I realize it’s not a realistic research method in most cases. Hopefully, these steps will help you find a solid marketing agency that will perform well for you. After you begin working with your agency of choice, do your best to communicate clearly, and manage expectations. I will cover how to get the most out of your agency experience in an upcoming article, so stay tuned. Join our newsletter to be notified when new articles drop.

Looking for a marketing agency? Riot might be a good fit. 

As a full-service marketing agency, Riot has the experience and expertise to support our clients at every phase and stage of their marketing journeys. We also have the staffing and deep technical expertise to fulfill on the most complex, time-sensitive, and high-stake projects. Besides the fact that what we deliver is always of the highest quality, we also cater to our client’s needs on how we deliver. For example:

  • No long term contracts. If for some crazy insane reason you are not beyond satisfied with our work, you can cancel anytime without hassle.
  • 24/7, 365 availability. Seriously though. We are easier to connect with than pre-teens with new smartphones.
  • When you work with Riot you have full access to our entire team of tenured experts, regardless of what you initially hired us to do.
  • We know we are not the cheapest option. We can’t be if we are going to provide the best talent and the best results. Nevertheless, we are competitively priced for the Utah market and stupid cheap compared to larger market agencies that don’t even deliver at our standard.
  • Dedicated account managers are able to get deep into your brand, processes, and procedures to ensure we never miss the mark.
  • We strive to build strong and lasting relationships, but we are also ready and happy to support short-term projects.
  • We are 100% dedicated to client success and exceeding expectations. As such, we believe in flexibility. Every client and project is different. That is why our services are custom-tailored, rather than “one size fits all.”
  • We are a Utah based marketing agency but travel around the world servicing our clients. We are also highly proficient in our remote communications and delivery.
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