Are you looking to work with a creative agency and are struggle to decide which route is the best fit? Need help understanding the difference between UpWork, Freelancer, Marketing Consultant, Regional agency, National agency and other types of marketing offers?
Are you struggling with how much you should spend to ensure that the marketing support delivers according to your expectations, whilst adding value and helping you better understand the industry as a whole?
At Anecdote, we understand these challenges and have a passion for helping small and medium size business across Kent and the South East achieve success, whether it’s helping them with an annual marketing plan, designing and developing a website or rebranding them to future proof their business.
In this article we are going to dive deep into the process of finding the right marketing support for your specific needs. While many of the things we’ll point out are broad guidelines to consider when choosing the right marketing agency we’re also going to explain why finding the right marketing support can deliver transformational change within your business.
The landscape for finding marketing support for your business has never been greater. The internet has blown the doors off the traditional status quo and for a business dipping their toes into the marketplace for the first time, this can be overwhelming and confusing, to say the least.
In this article we’ll aim to break down a comprehensive list of different options, spelling out their pros and cons and helping you understand which solution is right for your business.
With an ever-expanding range of offers to choose from comes with it varying degrees of service, quality and effectiveness. You may go to a prospective marketing agency with preconceived ideas of what you require, a great marketing agency will really listen to you before making any comment on what they feel the best route forward is for your business. A poor one will agree with what you say and deliver the project no questions asked. It is a much more transactional relationship and delivers short term gains.
A great marketing agency will challenge you to look at your industry as a whole, critically, to dive deep into understanding who your audiences are. They will then break your business down to understand its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, helping remove the threats and weaknesses whilst work out how to connect the strengths and opportunities with your audiences long before any branding, website or digital campaign is delivered.
The point we’re trying to make here is the difference between an average marketing provider and a great one is that of providing value, real value and one of really caring about your business and where it’s going, compared to delivering a project and moving on to the next one.
So what makes a marketing agency great? Whether their specialism is branding, website design and development, digital marketing, application rollout, or any other broad marketing service, our experience has shown us that four key elements must come together to be called a great marketing agency:
It sounds boring and obvious but you’d be surprised. When talking to our clients, reliability is one of the most important attributes they look for when commissioning a marketing agency. Knowing the agency will deliver on time and on budget is critical for their business to make sure they are delivering what they say they’re going to, to their customers.
As spoken about earlier, how many marketing agencies have a pricing page on their website? It’s barely 1%, why is that? Surely pricing is one of the most important aspects for you as a business when trying to understand who you should and shouldn’t be working with. Projects come in all shapes and sizes but it’s important that you have some sort of understanding of a sliding scale of costs so you know you are not wasting your time.
Transparency isn’t just about budgets, it’s about honesty and having difficult conversations about what you as a business feels is the right thing to do and what your marketing agency is advising you to do. These might be difficult to work through but honesty and transparency are critical in delivering effective results and building trust between both parties.
Creativity is the lifeblood of any marketing agency. Ultimately a marketing agency is there to help solve your businesses specific problems and creativity is the fuel to solve them. There are lots of variables to creativity, we believe to deliver great creative services, the work needs to deliver on these 3 key elements
The work created needs to feel fresh and right for the marketplace for today and tomorrow. It needs to have energy and be able to inspire the audience to take action.
Great creativity is not window dressing, it comes from a deep understanding of the problem it is trying to solve. As spoke previously, to do that you need a deep understanding of your market place, customers and what you want them to do.
This is where you may get worried and a bit scared by what your agency may be advising you to do. The key driver for growth in any business from a marketing or brand viewpoint is differentiation. If you follow the crowd, you will just get more of the same, if you want to be different and stand out then you need to be brave and position your business differently in the marketplace.
Effectiveness comes from optimising all 3 of the above attributes. If you and the marketing agency deliver wholeheartedly on the above then the results will follow.
What’s critical to understand in today digital world is that it isn’t really important what you think works or what your marketing agency thinks works for that matter, it’s the data you collect from your customers that dictate how effective you are.
For example, if you are paying for any online marketing then every interaction should be tracked, whether that’s with tracking numbers on different landing pages, google analytics on your website or having the Facebook pixel active, every penny you spend on paid digital advertising should be accounted for.
Anecdote’s obsession is to achieve the first three so as to make the final attribute (Effectiveness) inevitable!
Cost is typically one of the most important elements to consider when making a decision about finding marketing support. As the owner or senior member of the team, you will often be dealing with a limited budget. Depending on the services you wish to commission, you will need to consider extra costs such as:- ad spend whether, with Facebook or a local magazine, hosting/domain registration, photography, cost of printing, and wages for all of the people involved to make the marketing work are all important considerations to make.
However, one of the most critical mistakes the owner or senior member of the team make is not taking the time to properly research their best options when looking for help with their marketing. And it’s understandable why finding marketing support can be difficult as prices can vary widely.
So how are marketing agencies fee’s calculated? Why do some marketing agencies only charge £1,000 when others may ask for £5000? While there’s no exact formula when calculating marketing fees, and the cost of a marketing agency doesn’t always reflect the quality of their skills, here’s a guide to show you the potential ranges of marketing agencies and what you can probably expect for each range.
If you are on a really tight budget then these services are really useful and cost-effective. A lot of the services for example Upwork, Fivver, Peopleperhour are provided by younger, in a lot of cases self taught designers and developers. They can provide flexible solutions at a very low cost but they are transactional and don’t have the experience or depth of knowledge to really unlock long term gains.
This group are ideal for businesses with really tight budgets who want a quick turnaround on a tight budget.
These freelancers have an associate degree or qualification within the field, for example, an HND in Graphic Design or a degree in web development. You’ll get a more considered approach from this group. Some will be keen to build a relationship and some will just want to get the job done and move on. It’s important to remember that this group are formally trained but potentially still lack long term experience so if they suggest something which you are not comfortable with make sure you do your research and question them to make sure their thinking stands up.
This group have a lot of experience within the field, typically 6 – 15 years. They may be working as consultants or building out their own businesses. At this level, your agency should be really listening and looking at the bigger picture for your requirements rather than short term gains. These agencies will look to build a trusted relationship with you and want to grow as you do. This group offers extremely good value for money as they have the experience and network but work independently meaning they don’t have the overheads of a bigger more established agency.
This is where you will be dealing with an established regional agency. They will provide you with a host of services. You should be provided with a dedicated account manager who will keep you updated with projects, costs and any concerns you may have. Theses agency will generally have a team of creatives, developers and account managers on hand to help deliver across the board. If you are looking at a new website, always ask if they have developers in house. If they are outsourced where are they outsourced too? If it is the Far East, negotiate hard to bring the price down as the mark up for them is huge.
These agencies are generally city-based and are well established. They will be working with brands you’ve probably heard of and will have a talented team who will really help propel your business forward. Usually, these agencies will have between 15 – 30 highly professional employees with a senior team of strategists who will be one hand to help your business really make gains in the market. They will go in-depth with your business objectives and then weave the creative solutions into making that happen. A lot of these agencies are specialists, so do your homework to make sure you find the one which is the best fit. It’s also important to remember that, you want to feel like they care and that you are not just ‘another client’.
These agencies are industry-leading. They are branding and supporting household names like Deliveroo and McDonald’s. The sky’s the limit with budgets here. You will be getting the best service in the UK and potentially the world can offer, which means you will be paying handsomely for it. Whether you are looking to rebrand, think AirBnB or run a great ad campaign think Burger King, these guys are the ones bringing these ideas to life. Your business is in a great position if you are able to work with these agencies and the outcome for your business can be completely transformational.
There are many avenues you could pursue to find the perfect marketing agency for your business and all have their own pros and cons. Whichever way you choose to search for a marketing consultant or agency, always keep one thing in mind: make sure you can see some proof of their abilities. Whether it’s through case studies on their websites, reading their testimonials, or talking with their references, it’s imperative to the success of your business that you get marketing help that delivers results every time.
Google searches are always a great way to begin any research. Putting in keywords centred around “marketing,” “support,” “marketing agency”, “marketing help” should generate tons of resources as a great starting point.
Most of the best marketing agencies have solid websites that are easily found. Here you can check out their work, case studies, services they provide; read through their Google reviews and get a sense of how they think and the culture of their business.
Some agencies social media profiles are rocking the house down, others are barely posting once a week. If you are looking to run a social media campaign steer clear of any agency that barely has a presence on its own channels.
If on the other hand, you are looking for branding, a website or more traditional comms work I wouldn’t get too worried about a lack of presence on social media. For some agencies, social media is a necessary evil and they do it because they feel like they have to not because they love it. The ones that do, are great at it and you should always work with them if that’s the service you are after.
This is the one that I would imagine will chime the most with any human being on the planet. People buy people and if someone you trust refers you to a marketing agency then you know they’re up to it. Now that doesn’t mean you have to use them but at least have a meeting to understand if the chemistry is right to work together. Referrals are the golden road of all business, as they cut through the noise and bring clarity and confidence in decision making.
Even with all of these great resources at your disposal for finding an exceptional marketing agency, there will still be some potential pitfalls to look out for. Remember, you are placing a lot of trust and investing your hard earned money in them. Done right and it will drive your business forward and in the most effective cases complete transform your business for years to come. Done wrong it can put a major damper on your business and the investment paid. When a marketing agency bombs, the exact opposite effect you’re looking for can occur. The results don’t come in, you alienate your core customers and most drastically lose faith in the industry and become completely suspicious or any marketing agency in the future. Not good times.
Check to make sure all the work on their site is their own
When you hire an inexpensive marketeer or creative freelancers, you may be getting exactly what you paid for. Just because the person you hire has great work and testimonials on their website, doesn’t mean they did the work. A lot of freelancers work is done in collaboration with others so make sure you ask what they actually did within the case studies they have on their website. For example, did they come up with the concept for the campaign or did they create the website or logo? That will give you a clue as to how experienced and truthful they actually are.
Cost doesn’t always equal quality
A marketing agency charging a high rate isn’t an indication that they can deliver. This often occurs when hiring the best in your area. While they may have great brands and case studies on their site, they may be peddling these from years past and the team that delivered the work may have moved on. The agency is only as good as the teams that deliver the work so make sure the case studies are credible and are recent, also ask for results where you can.
Sometimes a marketing agency has it all: services, the team, amazing results. But if the marketing agency isn’t familiar with the industry or they aren’t actually up to speed with the latest trends, think social media, then the project could still flop. Make sure that the marketing agency knows your businesses goals and will work towards helping you achieve them.
Finding the right marketing help can be a difficult and even stressful task, but when you put in the effort to find the best fit for your business, alchemy can occur in the results and transformational effect it has on the business. But don’t let all of the potential pitfalls scare you off. With a little due diligence and some careful screening, you will be able to find the perfect marketing agency to transform your business’s position in the marketplace for the long term.
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