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How to hire a rock star marketing firm

October 2, 2019

You’ve decided it’s time for your company to put its best marketing foot forward to get noticed… So where do you start? The answer lies in finding someone who is an expert in marketing, and there are thousands of ‘marketing experts’ out there, so weeding through all the options is a critical first step.

We’ve identified 10 questions that you should consider when looking for a marketing partner to ensure you’re setup for success from day one!

1. Understanding your goals: Does the marketing firm ‘get it’?

When you explain what your company’s goals, pinch points, and differentiators, do they ‘get it’ or do they get a glazed look in their eyes? Can they feed back to you what you’re trying to accomplish and supplement it with what they’d do to help you get there?

Your partner needs to be aligned with your desired outcomes to build a solid marketing strategy to actualize your goals.

2. Personality fit: Simply put, do you like them?

How are your initial interactions? Are you left with a positive gut feeling, are the interactions fluid or do they feel forced and a bit awkward? The marketing process can be an intimate experience and often happens under tight timelines, so ensuring you’d feel comfortable communicating what you need and giving critical feedback is a must. Bonus question–would I want to have a Tuesday afternoon cocktail with this person?  

How you and your project team mesh can hugely influence your happiness with the project, so make sure you vibe.

3. Expectations alignment: What does project success look like to you?

Do you want a brand that feels cool and trendy? Then project success might be measured by a certain number of website visits or social media interactions. Do you want to raise employee or community engagement? Then project success may be measured by increased event attendance and positive feedback from these stakeholders. And how important are analytics to you to quantify your project’s impact?

Sharing what project success looks like to you on day one will help determine if your marketer can create the pathway to get you there.

4. Process alignment: Do they have a clear plan?

Your marketing company should be able to walk you through the project’s process, define its key milestones and how much of your involvement would be needed at each step. This ensures both groups remain aligned on the process and you can feed into how much involvement you’d like to have at the outset. This is a key point for project timelines being met.

Make sure you clearly understand the project’s process and you’re comfortable with your level of involvement along the way.

5. Project delivery: How do you implement your brand moving forward?

When the project is all said and done, what collateral and tools will you have to maintain and build your brand without your marketing partner? We are often asked ‘now how can we update this ourselves?’, and unless we’ve built it in a format compatible with a client’s software, they won’t be able to. So understand what you want and need to be able to do when the project completes. Examples of deliverables to ask about are: logo files, a brand guideline, templates and a training manual for your new website.

Ensure you have an understanding of the tools you’ll need to maintain your brand after your project has completed.

6. Heavy lifting: How involved do you want to be in the project?

Are you more hands-off, or do you want to be heavily involved throughout the process? And if you are looking to be more involved and take on some of the work yourself (for example, writing your website copy), make sure you understand the amount of work you’re taking on and how a delay would affect the project timeline. But if you’re willing, this can be a great way to save money and add some of your own expertise and personality to a project.

Consider what is a worthwhile investment of your time and ensure your marketing team is aware and in support of your collaborative efforts.

7. Contractor availability: How often do you expect to be in touch with your marketer?

Working with contractors outside of your office will be different than working with internal colleagues. Setting expectations for availability, revisions and last-minute requests will ensure that both teams have transparent and reasonable expectations. If you aren’t aligned in this area it can cause relationship tension and eat up administrative time not accounted for.

Make sure you and your marketer have a mutual understanding of how much access you will have to your marketer throughout the process.

8. Billing: By the hour? By the project? Do you know?

No one wants to end a project with unexpected fees, so understanding how billing is going to work is an important step for both teams in setting cost expectations. Some agencies will bill by the hour, others by project value, and some a combination of both. Avoid awkward and expensive surprises by having this conversation very early on.

Ensuring that you clearly understand what is, and isn’t included in your project estimate at the outset will help eliminate tough money conversations when you’re deep into the project.

9. Track record: If they did it once, they can probably do it again!

Everyone has to start somewhere, but a good indicator of future success is past success. Check out their work portfolio, and ask them to detail past work that is in alignment with your project.

Feel confident in your marketing team’s capabilities by reviewing their past work.

10. Referrals: Get the inside scoop

A marketer is only as successful as their ability to accomplish client goals, so they should readily provide you with past clients to chat with. While they will likely only provide positive referrals, we’ve found that past clients are good about providing candid feedback. If they don’t have any past clients happy to talk to you, you may want to do a little more digging!

Have a conversation with marketers past clients to get an unbiased account of the process, work product and results achieved.

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