This week’s video is part 1 of a 2-part series — 8 Questions You Should Ask Your Next Marketing Agency, Partner, or Freelancer.

Sustaining and growing your business requires a solid marketing strategy, and achieving these goals requires expert attention. A number of missteps can happen before you ever begin working with a marketing partner. When you’re considering working with a marketing agency, partner, or freelancer, there are eight key questions you should ask. Their answers will help you choose wisely where you invest your marketing budget, and can save you valuable time.

Question #1: Have they done this before?

There’s something to be said for experience. If it’s YOUR marketing budget, do you really have the time or money to mess around? If the vendor you’re considering hasn’t done this before, let someone else break them in.

So, what exactly does marketing experience look like?

  • First, the potential marketing partner could have a lot of agency or freelance experience marketing a similar product or solution in your industry.
  • Better yet, they could have actually been employed in your industry. Bonus points if they filled a marketing role in a relevant business.

Now, why is the industry important (or not important) here?

Well, sometimes you need a fresh and unbiased perspective. If you want to work with someone that doesn’t have “blinders” on, their experience in your industry won’t matter so much. But if you’re in a really niche industry, it can be helpful to work with a partner that understands all of the little nuances that come with your product or your service.

Question #2: Are they (and their team) really marketers?

Typically, the reason you hire an outside marketing resource is because you’re seeking expertise that you don’t already have.

Did the potential marketing service provider wake up one morning, tired of their old career, and decide to become a freelance marketer? With no training? It happens more often than you think. They may have been a teacher, or tech support, or in sales – all great professions, and yes, full of life experience, but just not exactly the kind you’d look for in a marketing partner.

And don’t get us wrong, we love graphic designers. Their talent is valuable for excellent marketing. But they usually are not marketers — there is a difference.

Here are some questions that will help you determine if a marketing vendor is legit:

  • Can they provide a portfolio or project samples?
  • Do they have a website? What about business cards? A legitimate business — especially in marketing — will have these very basic marketing tools.
  • Can they show the results they’ve achieved for other clients? Can they demonstrate that they have successfully helped their clients do things like grow demand, generate qualified leads, increase website traffic, improve email metrics? Remember, this can include any quantifiable results, case studies, or success stories.

A legitimate, reputable marketing vendor can do all of the above. A fly-by-night vendor cannot. Period.

Question #3: Once you are a client, who will work on your account?

The account manager or your first point of contact can really make or break a relationship.

We’ll assume that if you’ve gotten satisfactory answers to the previous questions, the account manager knows their stuff. But does this person know your business?

  • Are they a good communicator, asking lots of good questions and listening to your answers?
  • Do they have a track record of replying quickly and clearly to emails and phone calls?
  • Are they patient with your questions?
  • Do they take the time to explain time frames for project deliverables and milestones?
  • They don’t have to be your new best friend, but are they personable and easy to work with?
  • Will they play nicely with your other vendors?

If you can, talk to someone else they’ve worked with. An agency with an excellent customer service reputation should be open and willing to share testimonials from satisfied clients, as well as their names and contact information. You can also tap into reviews online.

Question #4: Is this marketing partner focused on your long-term strategy?

Even if you hire a marketing professional for a one-off project, are they tuned into how it fits in your overall, long-term strategy?

Do they bother to ask these questions? Really GREAT marketers do. They take time to really understand your business goals and how marketing will help you achieve them.

If you end up working with several independent marketing partners, over time, your efforts can become glaringly “disjointed.” It’s like having a bunch of puzzle pieces that don’t necessarily fit together. Try as you will, you can’t assemble a cohesive whole. At the end of the day, your external marketing resources are extensions of your team, and having members of your team working in silos never turns out well.

You need a comprehensive plan, someone to coordinate it, and team members who all understand how their contributions fit with your plan.

Download the how-to guide for vetting a marketing partner

So, there you have it. These first four questions will help you establish the basis for a productive marketing partnership – and avoid costly mistakes. Next week, I’ll cover the other four questions in this two-part series. We’ve also put the eight questions into a helpful how-to guide, which you can download here.

8 Questions

If you have any specific questions related to your business’ marketing program, reach out by clicking on the big blue button below or call us at 720-722-2987. We’re here to help!