You have decided to employ marketing experts to draw out amazing ideas and help propel your brand forward.

This is exciting and has the potential to bring your company great financial returns. Employing a marketing agency is a little like buying a home. It’s an investment that you want to be sure you’ve made the right decision on.

There are a few relationship pitfalls that stem from not getting to know your agency upfront. Companies looking to hire an agency for the first time should ask a few critical questions before entering into any contract. Looking at a company portfolio is important, however, it is equally important to figure out how the agency will work for your exact needs.

Test the fit with the following questions:

What size of agency should your company work with?

Working with the best agency in the industry sounds like it would result in top-notch solutions. However, if the agency is structured around Fortune 500 companies, their attention to smaller corporations may result in higher fees and less attention to you.

Pairing with a company that is built to service a company your size generally means more efficient use of the budget. Smaller agencies are built to service small and medium-sized businesses. Generally, staff are knowledgeable about where similarly-sized companies have seen benefits in the past, and where to put your dollars to make it count.

What resources and information will your company have to provide?

Hiring a full-service agency is not always in the budget. Therefore, many companies produce copy, creative, photos and other materials in-house for an agency to use. You know your schedule best. Before taking on the role, it is critical to know how much time it takes to produce these materials.  Agencies do an incredible amount of behind-the-scenes research to make sure they are making the right choices for your company. If you know scheduling and resources are scarce, it may be best to spend the money and let the agency take care of it all. Their expertise is what you are paying for. However, if you commit to providing materials, the amount of information and effort you can or can’t provide the agency with will dictate results.

Does our team participate in the creative process – or not?

Some agencies thrive on collaboration, while others conjure their creative genius from within its offices. Make sure you understand how the agency functions best. Will your company have input on specific words in the tagline, or is your company’s role simply to approve what is shown? Agencies are hired for creative expertise but small and medium-sized companies (that are used to doing things internally) have a tendency to micro-manage decisions. It is important to be an advocate for your brand, but also to trust your agency. What may seem simple on the surface is generally layered with complexity and relevance for your brand. Knowing how much you want to be involved helps set the expectations and the timelines upfront.  

What is the baseline financial commitment?

Asking for a number is critical to determining what you can and can’t afford. Take the time to set clear goals and expectations so that you know exactly what will be delivered for what cost. Spend the money where you need it most to get the most from your creative agency!

We’ve tried to make this easier for you by offering a quote tool that allows you to start planning your monthly budget based on what you’re looking for.