All marketing agencies are not created the same. Some may work with multiple industries, while others focus on a single niche industry. Any agency can create a marketing plan, but how can you ensure it will benefit your company and that you are getting the best value from that relationship?

Here, at PMP Marketing Group, our sole focus is the legal industry, and we have been doing that successfully for over fifteen years. Although we specialize in building legal brands, we understand what to look for in any marketing agency and how you can make the most of that relationship.

1. Find the Right Agency to Partner With

There are many companies out there claiming to be marketing agency experts, but how do you find the right fit for your company?

Choosing an agency that has little experience with your industry can make for a slow start and a bad finish. Here are some factors to consider that can help you in your search.

How Well Does the Agency Understand Your Industry?

Avoid the dreaded one-size-fits-all marketing plan by looking for an agency that specializes in your industry, has been around for a few years and can create a customized campaign. Agencies with those qualifications are more likely than other contenders to have a solid understanding of how your business works at a granular level. They are also likely to have more knowledge about historical and current trends impacting your business today and how best to reach potential clients.

Does the Agency Have a History of Success?

At a minimum, be sure any agency you consider has a history of success with industries similar to yours. Read online reviews for insight into how existing clients feel about them. Do not worry too much if you see one or two bad reviews. What you really want to watch for are reviews citing repeated problems.

How Responsive Is the Agency When Issues Arise?

Problems can happen no matter how good a marketing agency is or how long they have been successful. If an issue does arise, how quickly do they get back to you to try to resolve it?

You can often get a sense of how an agency communicates from reviews where clients were less satisfied. Did the agency appropriately respond to those reviewers and address their concerns or casually dismiss them?

Again, one-off complaints are less of a concern, but if you see the same problem over and over again, it is worth taking a closer look. Note those common issues and bring them up when you meet with an agency candidate. Discussing these concerns in person can help you to see how those areas have been addressed. If the agency is not responsive to your questions now, they are unlikely to be more responsive later on.

2. Agree to Expectations Before You Sign

Once you decide on a marketing agency, it is important to discuss and agree on a scope of work. This document typically includes things like benchmarking, creating customized campaigns, setting project objectives and more. It is far better to get these things hammered out from the beginning and put them in writing. That way it is clear what both sides expect from this relationship.

3. Talk About Communication

It is a good idea to set expectations for communicating with your marketing agency. No one likes to wade through endless electronic voice menus before reaching an actual human being, especially when you are paying for a service. Agreeing to a single point of contact at the agency in advance can help you avoid irritating delays.

Similarly, be prepared to appoint a decision-maker on your team who can be readily available to respond to questions from the agency. Being responsive to your marketing agency helps to ensure there are no delays that may negatively impact your expected outcomes.

4. Deliverables, Budget and Deadlines

Agreeing to deliverables and budgets can be a frustrating and tedious process, but failing to set deadlines and rushing through these topics can cost you time and money later on. Never sign a contract without making sure you understand and agree on each point included.

Budgeting and Why It Matters

Before you can set deliverables, you and your marketing agency need to discuss your available budget. Understanding what you have to work with plays a major role in determining your campaigns and other deliverables. That said, use the experts at your marketing agency to help you maximize the power of your budget. In other words, getting the most bang for your buck. Keep in mind that as your brand grows, your budget can also grow. What you do today has significant influence over whether you can achieve more tomorrow.

What Deliverables Can You Expect From Your Marketing Agency?

Some agencies may promise you the moon, which is great if they have the resources to get you there. So go ahead and get excited when they show you their projected increase in potential clients, and then ask to see the research that supports their claims. It is also a good idea to ask the agency to further define how they intend to achieve those goals.

Setting Deadlines – Your Marketing Agency is Accountable to You

It is generally understood that even with the best planning and intentions, delays can and do happen. However, setting deadlines creates a target. Without a deadline, a project can go on forever without ever meeting the promised deliverable. Additionally, to ensure your campaigns and projects keep moving forward, you should make sure your agency is accountable for any delays that may occur.

5. Trust Your Marketing Agency, But Not Blindly

Your agency may be the marketing expert, but it is important to stay proactive about proposed changes, rather than automatically accepting them.

For instance, maybe your marketing agency recommends a new approach or a different direction for boosting visibility. While it may sound exciting, perhaps you cannot see how it will help get you more clients. Voice your concerns openly and ask to see supporting documentation.

You definitely want to have a good working relationship with your marketing agency and trust them for what you have hired them to do. However, remember to stay in the loop and ask questions anytime you have concerns or want more clarity.