Checklist: 5 Things You Need Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Firm

A few weeks ago, I talked about the signs it might be time to hire a digital marketing firm.

Although those signs ring true, that doesn’t mean that every company is ready for outside help.

Understanding you need marketing help is certainly the first step in the process, but there are still a number of things your company needs to do before you begin working with a digital marketing agency.

Ready to hire a digital marketing firm?

If you think your company is ready to hire a digital marketing firm, here are
 just a few of the things you need to have in place before you get started:

1. Well-defined Goals.

I know this sounds silly, but you have to know what the heck you’re trying to accomplish as a company before you hire a digital marketing firm to help you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to business owners who have no idea of specific, measureable goals they want to achieve through working with a marketing firm.

Without well-defined goals, it makes it VERY hard to know what we’re working toward. And, it gives us no way to measure success. Although a marketing firm can help you crystalize your goals, you need to have some vision for your efforts before you can expect a marketing partner to help you get there.

If you need help with this, here’s a nice framework for building SMART marketing goals.

2. A marketing budget.

I recently wrote about the importance of building a marketing budget. There are plenty of good reasons why you need a budget, so I won’t belabor the point here.

However, I will say this — you must have a basic idea of how much money you are comfortable spending before you talk with marketing agencies.

Yes, an agency can help you build a detailed marketing budget. But, it helps if you have a rough idea of how much you are willing and able to spend before you call. That way, you won’t waste your time talking to an agency you can’t afford or one that is not in a position to help.

3. Time and staff support.

Hiring a digital marketing firm is not a set it and forget it solution. You can’t completely ignore marketing just because you’ve hired outside help.

Someone on your team has to work closely with the marketing agency to make sure they have what they need to get the job done. That means spending time on regular phone calls (often weekly or bi-weekly) and participating in ongoing email communication to get updates on their efforts and also to provide the firm with information about what’s going on at your company.

Before calling on outside marketing help, take some time to determine who will be the liaison for the marketing agency. If you’re a smaller company, that might be the CEO. For larger companies, it might be someone else on your leadership team (i.e. sales or customer service). Just make sure whoever you choose has the time to dedicate to this relationship.

4. Buy-In from company leaders.

Before engaging outside marketing help, make sure your leadership team is committed to the marketing effort and willing to help. It doesn’t make sense to hire a digital marketing agency if you’re C-suite is going to resist the recommendations from your marketing partner.

Your leadership team needs to be open-minded and willing to adopt the recommendations from the agency. Sometimes, that means being willing to take risks and doing things differently than before.

Other times, that may require you to make internal shifts across the entire company. To make that work, the CEO and entire leadership team must be committed to the effort and willing to set the example for your entire company.

Getting executive buy-in first will make the efforts with your marketing agency go a lot smoother (and you’ll be more successful too).

5. Access to information.

A digital marketing agency should be more than a vendor. They should serve as your external marketing department and treated as part of your team.

This means you need to give your marketing agency access to the information they need to get the job done — including financial data, customer information or access to your CRM, website statistics such as Google Analytics, and any other dashboards or monitoring services you use.

Good PR and marketing firms want to tie their efforts to the metrics that matter to your company (i.e. revenue, profits, new customers, etc.). Without access to information, how can they do that?

If you want to achieve success with your marketing efforts, be prepared to share this information with your agency partner.

The bottom line

Can you hire a digital marketing firm without these items? Sure. But, your efforts are going to have a much greater chance of success if you have these things in place before you enlist outside help.

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Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

2 replies on “Checklist: 5 Things You Need Before Hiring a Digital Marketing Firm”

Great list Laura! Especially like #3. You gotta have an internal champion/someone in-house that can put in the time and energy needed to implement the marketing throughout the company.

You’re so right, Joel. I think sometimes people hire marketing help so they don’t have to think about it. The reality is that someone at the company has to be heavily involved, but you lean on the marketing firm to offer the guidance and do the heavy lifting!

Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by!

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