Start with what you want What do you want to achieve with your marketing? What are your marketing goals and targets? While in many cases it will be to increase sales it may be that you want a more professional image, a new website or just to outsource a particular channel that's taking up too much of your time.
What services do you require? Think about what services you need. Is it just one specific service - a new website for example, or an agency to look after your search engine marketing or maybe you just need some graphic design? Or do you need a full service - an organization that can execute all of your marketing, maybe one that will drive the marketing strategy giving you just one point of contact?
Work out a budget Identify a marketing budget up front, at least a ballpark one and this will save you and any agencies you talk to time. Good marketing may require a decent marketing budget however if you get results and an ROI why wouldn't you pay as much as you can afford? Don't just go for the cheapest; make a decision based on a number of factors (factors that are explored in this article).
A productive relationship will ensure you can partner with an agency and get the best marketing results for your business. marke8now
Look at their experience Any agency you engage should be able to show you case studies and a portfolio of their work. Have a look at this, see if you like what they've produced, their thinking and creativity. Whilst experience in your industry is of benefit, don't discount marketing agencies that don't have this specific experience. The important thing is you would be proud if the agency could do for you what it's done for its other clients.
Who's driving the strategy? Do you want to drive the marketing strategy or are you looking for guidance from your agency? If you're happy to drive it the agency can execute it for you. Many businesses, however, want an agency to manage the strategy. If this is the case with you it's worth asking to see examples of strategy documents the agency has written. You should also want a proactive agency, one that will stay abreast of the latest marketing trends and recommend new tactics and campaign ideas.
Think long-term Traditionally marketing is not a discipline that gets instant results. Doing marketing right can take time and can involve testing different strategies. When it's working though you'll ask why you didn't start marketing sooner. Engage with an agency on a medium-term basis (ideally 6 months) and think long term, rather than expecting results in the first month, not getting them and moving onto the next agency. Of course, if you're not happy with things (for example the quality of work, communication or lack of ideas) consider a change but if you agree with what the agency is doing stick with them.
You need a good match You need to be able to have a good working relationship with your agency; there needs to be good chemistry between you and them. You need to feel comfortable with them and be able to discuss your marketing ideas. A productive relationship will ensure you can partner with an agency and get the best marketing results for your business.