Many business owners eventually reach a point of growth when they require the assistance of a marketing agency. The reasons for this vary; they need to build or strengthen their personal brand, they don’t have the skills required to increase their website’s search engine rankings or design eye-catching direct mail pieces, or they simply don’t have the time to focus on marketing and public relations. These entrepreneurs have at least one thing in common: they want to expand their business and increase its profitability.

If this describes your current situation, do you know how to select the right marketing agency for your business? In order to avoid comparing quotes by various firms–and to stay in control of the process–it is critical to take the time to understand your marketing situation before you start researching.

1. Define Your Marketing Goals and Budget
The first step is to gather your existing electronic and printed marketing materials and review them objectively. Using your marketing collateral as a foundation, define your marketing goals so that you can clearly articulate your needs. Next, determine how much you are willing to budget for this assistance. Your marketing budget will depend on your goals, your market space, your structure, and your revenue. It may be helpful to consider how much your competitors are spending and budget a little more. In an annual survey of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) from a variety of industries, marketing budgets made up 11.1% of total company budgets in 2018.

2. Request Recommendations
Ask your colleagues, friends, and business associates for the names of marketing agencies they have done business with and would recommend. Use your social media network to generate a list of recommended agencies as well. Ask detailed questions about your associates’ experiences and results, specifically about past campaigns, including ROI and performance metrics.

3. Search Online and in Directories
Review the websites of the marketing agencies suggested by your network as well as any others found through online searches. Marketing agency websites should include portfolios and client lists as well as the successes they have helped their clients achieve. Find out if the agencies have experience with companies in your industry or your specific niche, look for case study examples, and determine if you like their design style and presentation. Check out sites such as AdForum, which is a global directory of agency profiles, and AgencyList, a resource for finding top agencies across the US. Reviewing sites such as Google and Yelp will also yield past client testimonies.

4. Choose an Agency that Aligns with Your Goals
Are you looking for a full-service marketing agency that offers online and offline integration? A digital marketing agency that focuses on blogging and SEO? Some agencies specialize in specific marketing techniques, such as the creation of digital ads or social media advertising. If your business is like most, you will need a combination of marketing strategies. While you could hire different companies to handle paid search, SEO, video, website design and PR, the results will be disorganized and inefficient. Choose an agency that can deliver consistent, measurable results across all marketing sectors. In addition, identify firms that have experience developing and executing your marketing plans in-house. Some agencies contract with a company, only to send the work elsewhere, including overseas. Be mindful of who you will be working with and ask specifically for the account principals and key players.

5. Interview at Least Three Marketing Agencies
Meet in person or via video chat to present your needs and budget to each agency. Make sure to include any relevant information that they would need to develop an effective marketing strategy such as your business and brand background and specific industry, target customers, desired work objectives, budget, and timeline. Request a written proposal with a line item budget included and hourly rates. Find out if the agencies are open to phasing your project, and be transparent if funding is still needed for your proposed projects.

6. Evaluate your Proposals and Choose the Best Value
Review the proposals face-to-face or via video chat, allowing the agency to present their ideas to you in person and explain anything you don’t understand. Following your agency meetings, get together with your decision-making team to evaluate each proposal and apply the same criteria to each one. Consider price breakdown, timeline, their ability to meet your business needs, deliverables and expected outcomes, expertise, communication and progress reports. Once you’ve selected a marketing agency, review the agreement and be sure that every aspect is clear before signing.

A marketing agency should serve as your partner in business development. Select one that can be your trusted advisor and that can deliver the scope of services you need to further your business in your local market. At Millennium, a relationship with a new client typically starts with a phone call or a meeting between our CEO, Vice President, Directors and a prospective client. Get in touch with us today and let us know how we can help you achieve your business goals.

About Millennium Agency

Millennium Agency is a national award-winning digital creative, content/PR and video marketing firm. With offices in Boston and New Hampshire, our team unites creative branding and data analytics to accelerate our clients’ growth, while combining our clients’ vision with our marketing expertise to increase sales opportunities and drive brand success. From video advertising and web design to social media and PR, Millennium can guide your marketing efforts every step of the way. Contact the professionals at Millennium Agency to learn more!

Linda Fanaras is the President and Founder of Millennium Agency (www.mill.agency) located in Manchester, NH and Boston. She can be reached at 877-873-7445 or lfanaras@mill.agency.