STRATEGY

What to Ask Before Hiring A Performance Marketing Agency

Have you started the process of hiring a performance marketing agency?

For your company, you may have already decided it’s time to find your next marketing agency.

Bringing on a new marketing agency can be a large investment, but finding hiring the right marketing agency can provide significant ROI.

Whether you are looking to boost your sales, dramatically increase your customer base, or stand out from your competitors, a fresh marketing strategy can be a vital part of new business growth.

With the need for a new strategy, or the building of a current one, seeking out your next marketing agency to partner with is a top priority.

The question now becomes, how can you ensure you are hiring a performance marketing agency to meet the needs and goals of your company and take your business in the right direction?

To guide your decision, here are 10 critical questions to ask in your hiring process to help you find the right marketing agency partner.

The 10 Questions to Ask When Hiring A Performance Marketing Agency

1. What are the steps in your strategic process?

While your goals and outcomes of your marketing strategy are essential aspects of your marketing plan, knowing the strategy and processes to help you to define, work toward and achieve those goals is just as important. A solid performance marketing agency will have no problem laying out their process with you and giving you the details of what will occur at each step. All agencies should include at least two primary steps in their process including a research phase to inform a creative process.

They should not be vague about describing their process if they are organized and professional company. They should provide details about how they perform their research and their process for gathering information. Do they use any unique approaches? Is their research thorough? Learn how they will use the information in the creative process.

Once they move into the creative process, determine how their decision process works. How involved will you be? Will you be provided with options? What will their evaluation process entail? Knowing the answers to these questions when hiring a performance marketing agency will prevent surprises down the road and give you confidence knowing the steps implemented to help you achieve the desired end goal.

It is vital to realize a good marketing strategy is a process, so if a marketing agency is promising you overnight results, such as next day logos, it should be a red flag. It suggests the required steps and processes are not in place to make your plan successful by tailoring it to your goals, needs, strengths and desired audience.

2. Can you show me proven performance results in my industry?

One of the points to address right away when interviewing for a new marketing firm is whether or not they have had successful campaigns in your industry. Every industry differs as well as the target audience. Choosing a company who has worked with businesses similar to yours and has shown successful results with those companies is a great predictor of obtaining the results you want. A marketing agency with experience in your industry will also have a head start on the research they will need,  will understand the market you are trying to reach, what has worked (and not worked) for businesses like yours, and what your target market is looking for in a business like yours.

Ask them about the strategies they used for these companies and what type of results they received. If the marketing agency has not worked with other companies in your industry, consider asking them what their approach would be to learn about your industry. Ask how they would plan to get the results you are seeking in an industry they have not previously experienced.

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3. What marketing services do you specialize in?

Once you have determined the marketing agencies experience, or lack thereof, in your specific industry, you will want to inquire about what forms of marketing services they specialize. While you may be relying on your new marketing agency to guide you with a marketing plan to determine the best services to achieve your goals, you likely have an idea of marketing services you’d like for your newly created marketing strategy.

Are you looking to create a new brand or image? Do you want to market your business through trade shows? Are you interested in stepping up your content marketing game? Knowing the answers to which marketing services you are planning to employ to meet your goals will help when hiring a performance marketing agency determine if it will be the best fit. Don’t let them provide you with a long list or try an all-encompassing answer such as everything. Nail them down to giving you their marketing services strengths and ask them what’s driving their opinion.

4. Are your creative services outsourced or do you have an in-house creative team?

Both in-house and outsourced work has advantages and disadvantages. Outsourcing work may provide you with a fresher perspective on your creative options.It may give you the opportunity to have your creative needs met by a specialist in the industry and who has experience in accomplishing goals you are trying to meet. However, if all their work is outsourced it may be a signal the marketing agency is acting more as a facilitator instead of a full-service firm. Even if a company outsources some of their work to freelancers for timeline or capacity reasons, they should still have an in-house creative team who handles the strategy and the bulk of the creative processes.

On the flip side, a company who does all of their creative work in-house may find themselves at a disadvantage on deadlines and flexibility, especially if the firm only has a few creatives and a large client list. This will also limit you to the creative work and voice of a few people. The most important thing is to find a balance so the creative process is strategically guided and there is a proper team in place to provide you with the creative options you need to address and meet your goals.

Whether they plan to do your creative work in-house or outsource some or all of it should be communicated to you during the process. You should ask if you will be notified if work on your project has been outsourced to someone else. How will communication be handled between yourself, the marketing agency, and the freelancer? How can you make sure you get a team of individuals with the experience your desire?

5. What new trends in marketing should I be aware of?

Putting your marketing strategy into the hands of another company is not an easy decision. You are trusting this company to guide you to reach your marketing goals and provide you with the most up-to-date and cutting-edge services out there. A performance marketing agency should be on top of the latest marketing trends, able to share these with you, as well as discuss how they would utilize them for your marketing strategy. Remember, there are a lot of new marketing trends at any one time so if they are unable to answer or try to defer the question it could be a red flag. It suggests they are not up-to-date in their industry and may not be the best company to provide you with service.

6. How do you handle data?

While this may seem like an unusual question during an initial interview with a marketing agency, it is a vital one. Neil Patel discusses how data and analytics are an essential part of research to the development of a marketing plan designed to get a company results within their target market.  Hire a performance marketing agency that realizes how important data is to the development and implementation of their processes. They should be able to tell you their process for gathering, handling and analyzing data combined with factors such as human intuition to develop a truly successful marketing strategy. Also, address with them how you will receive reports of the data they gathered so you can stay in the loop with decisions made during the process.

7. Who will make up my team?

As with any large project having the right members on your team is paramount for ensuring its success or failure. This is the time to make sure you will have the proper mix of members to meet your goals and to provide you with the communication and involvement you require, and it is also a great time to see if the team they are choosing will gel with your company culture, understand the nuances of your brand, and can clearly articulate what your company stands for in the marketing process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and meet with the members who will make up your team. This will give you the peace of mind to entrust them with such a significant initiative for your company.

8. Do you work with any of my competitors?

A comprehensive marketing strategy can be an effective tool for helping you to stand out among a sea of competition and establishing yourself as the authority with a particular industry, product or service. The marketing agency you choose should become a trusted partner in achieving your sales and marketing goals which will ultimately mean outperforming the competition. You may see a marketing agency working with your competitor as a conflict of interest so addressing this issue up front is vital.

It is important to note many firms specialize in agency “verticals,” handling competing customers such as law firms and accounting companies. To dispel any assumptions or misunderstandings, discuss with the marketing agency how they handle working with competing clients and what safeguards, if any, are in place to ensure each company’s data, information, creative, etc., is protected.

9. What is the usual contract length? And how long do clients stay?

When hiring a performance marketing agency, be sure to ask what length of contract they are expecting you to sign and how long they think each stage of the process will need to be adequately performed. Open-ended contracts can lead to major conflicts later so setting these expectations up early can reduce problems down the road when they are more difficult to change. Get a feel for the length of their process and how they handle contracts by asking how long other clients have stayed and about average client retention. Do clients return for services? Do they retain services for a certain length of time? If they do return how are new contracts handled? By asking these questions, you will get a feel for the commitment you are making and you will have a better understanding of the length of the process and how many satisfied customers have returned.

10. What measures will you use to prove ROI on the campaign?

One of the last things you will want to discuss while talking with your marketing agency prospects, and one of the most crucial elements, is how they will measure and determine the return on investment gained from the marketing campaign. To determine ROI, there will need to be a way to connect marketing and sales; it is this measure informing you if your marketing strategy or project could be counted as a success or failure.

To arrive at these figures, you will need to receive regular marketing reports and updates demonstrating impacts to your marketing goals as well as your overall sales. Each performance marketing agency may create and deliver these reports in a different way, and it is important to know they have a set procedure in place to provide you with these periodic updates as well as provide you with the information on ROI you will need to validate whether or not the project was successful.

Make the Most of Your Next Performance Marketing Agency Decision

Hiring a performance marketing agency can seem like a daunting or lengthy process, taking the time to ensure the right fit, in the beginning, can make the difference between the success and failure of your marketing campaign.

Partner with an agency you can trust and has the capability to meet your goals, guide you through the process, and provide you with the ROI your business needs. Contact the marketing experts at Valve+Meter to schedule a free consultation.

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AUTHOR

Curt Merlau
Curt Merlau
Vice President of Sales

Curt Merlau is a Vice President of Sales within Valve+Meter Performance Marketing. He brings to the team a passion for transformative growth from his experience with strategic development acquired as a leader in the non-profit sector and his formal training in educational leadership. He and his family reside in Bloomington.