Inbound Marketing

10 Questions You Must Ask Before Hiring a Marketing Firm

Photo of Jasmine LeBlanc Jasmine LeBlanc - August 9, 2019

Are you looking to partner with a marketing firm so that you can focus on your long list of other responsibilities? That’s great! Engaging a marketing firm is one of the best ways to ensure your business is maximizing the return on your marketing investments, but a productive partnership requires finding the right partner to begin with.

So how do you optimize your search and make it easy to determine whether a firm is a good fit for your needs? By asking the right questions. To help you out, we’ve rounded up the best questions you can ask a potential marketing partner.

Questions to Ask When Meeting with a Potential Marketing Firm

The best marketing partnerships revolve around consistent communication, accurate reporting and being all-around efficient. These ten questions provide a great road map for auditioning marketing partners:

1. What’s their industry wheelhouse?

There’s no such thing as a “master of the universe” when it comes to marketing firms. Just like the business world itself, marketing is a diverse field, and every firm has strengths and weaknesses when it comes to having success in various industries.

While you don’t always need to engage a highly specialized firm, you still need to ensure they’re comfortable in your industry—with a track record of stellar results to prove it. Any reputable firm should have a package of case studies and metrics ready to present to prospective clients, but don’t hesitate to ask for more in-depth references and statistics during your hunt.

If you’re finding it hard to get started, analyze your competitors to find out who they’re partnering with, especially when it comes to their most successful campaigns.

2. Do they operate strategically?

Marketing is a core plank in any business strategy, so a firm that relies on cookie-cutter solutions is always going to be a poor fit.

The best results come from finding partners who know how to integrate the tactical details of every marketing effort into your broader strategic landscape. Every dollar you spend should support your business goals, and top-performing marketing firms work hard to guarantee the same.

But don’t take their word for it. Verify that you’ll receive updates with all the metrics and other information required to give you an accurate picture of what kind of return your marketing dollars are yielding for your larger strategies.

3. How will you monitor results?

It’s important to be able to monitor the results of your marketing efforts with minimal pain points. Ideally, your chosen partner has multiple layers of transparency in play, ranging from real-time stats reporting to regular meetings and broader consultative updates.

With today’s technology, the best marketing partners are able to provide a variety of means for integrating your team into the firm’s tech workflow, so you can seamlessly and efficiently monitor results. A firm that tries to be secretive or proprietary about the data that relates to your account is probably a poor fit when it comes to transparency and oversight.

4. What’s their differentiator?

A marketer’s primary task is convincing your target audience that you stand out from the crowd. If they can’t make the same case for their own firm, it’s unlikely they can do it for yours.

Make sure to directly ask what sets them apart from their competitors, and pay close attention to how they frame and convey that answer. Whether their key selling point is pricing, reputation, or suite of services, make sure they can sell themselves effectively, and that their biggest strengths coincide with your biggest needs.

5. Where are the lines of responsibility?

One of the most common sources of friction in a marketing partnership is a lack of clear responsibility when it comes to managing accounts and coordinating all the moving parts in a campaign. The best firms go out of their way to ensure clients always have a definitive landscape for contact persons, account managers, and general coordinators.

Ask specifically about the firm’s own outsourcing practices. While outsourcing shouldn’t be an instant deal-breaker, it’s frequently the trigger for communication breakdowns and missed deadlines. Accordingly, you need to be sure your partner ultimately takes personal responsibility for the end result and doesn’t blame whoever they outsource their work to.

6. Do they work on contract?

Like any business arrangement, partnering with a marketing firm requires negotiating the precise terms of a contract. Make sure there’s no question about a firm’s preferences for contract length, cancellations, and payment terms and schedules. Arrangements that seem notably vague or unnecessarily complicated are likely to become a headache down the road.

7. What are their values and who is their ideal client?

Your organization’s values are a pivotal component in how you operate, so it’s important to partner with a firm that holds similar priorities. Start by asking them who their ideal client is, then ask for a general overview of their own company values, along with specific examples of how they put those values into action. For example, a firm that prioritizes revenue over integrity is likely to be a poor fit if your own business relies on building trust with customers.

8. What’s required of you?

While marketing partnerships are definitely not “set it and forget it,” it’s easy to end up in a situation where you feel like you’re paying for work but still have most of the responsibility for its completion.

You need to be able to trust that your partner can achieve your goals without constant input from you, so directly ask them how much they need from you in order to meet those goals, whether that’s meetings, phone calls, or simple check-ins.

9. What are their tactical plans?

A strategy is doomed to failure with poor tactics, so you need some assurance about their tactical strengths. Ask specific questions about your top business priorities, then weigh their responses accordingly.

For example, if you’re trying to increase landing page conversions, ask how they specifically plan to do so, along with what results they’ve had with previous clients using similar methods.

10. How closely do they work with your sales team?

The endpoint of every marketing endeavor is the sale, engagement, or whatever other “check-out” step is relevant to your industry. Accordingly, effective marketing partnerships require close integration with in-house sales teams.

In many other areas, a marketing partner can legitimately operate as a third-party to your operations. But when it comes to sales, your partner needs to be intimately familiar with your in-house criteria for leads, including how you determine whether a lead is high-quality or not. To do this, your partner will need to be just as familiar with your audience’s pain points, demographics, and other details as your own salespeople are.

Ask specifically how your partner plans to integrate with the sales team, where the lines of responsibility will fall, and how your team will be able to capitalize on the partner’s data to find success.

Strong Partnerships Yield Results

Whatever your industry, asking the right questions is the best way to find the right marketing firm for your needs. From daily operations to long-term strategic goals, strong interview phases lead to strong partnerships and stellar results.

Ready to partner with a marketing agency that will create a strategy to attract highly-qualified visitors to your website? Click below to set up a time for us to have a quick chat about your marketing goals for your business!