Choosing a Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies serve to grow your business, improve the perception of your brand, and supplement your internal team’s talents. The ideal firm should feel like a natural extension of your team. Similar to finding the right employee, it’s critical to choose the right agency to partner with your business or nonprofit.

Full-Service vs. Specialty Agency

Is the agency you’re considering “full service” or do they specialize in a particular niche such as graphic design or public relations?

Full-service firms offer a one-stop shop for marketing services and simplify the number of vendors you’ll need to manage. These agencies are also ideal for managing robust marketing campaigns, often providing better coordination of efforts and a more unified “feel” across different mediums.

Niche agencies offer specialized services and expertise that often aren’t available from a full-service agency. These firms are typically on the cutting edge of their field and can make great additions to your team, especially if they work well with any other agencies you plan on retaining.

Agency Experience

Once you’ve narrowed the scope of your agency candidates, you should ensure they have the credentials to meet your expectations. Has the agency been established for a significant period of time? Does the firm have proper experience in managing the types of projects for which you’ll be retaining them? An inexperienced shop that just opened may not offer the longevity to support your needs in a long-term partnership.

Inversely, firms with substantial experience don’t always provide the best performance. Ask if their team engages in continuing education to stay current on industry trends and best practices. For example, a website developer with decades of experience may sound great, but they might be poorly suited to build a site that uses modern best practices of mobile device optimization and fast content loading.


Trustworthy partners should be an open book to you. Ideal candidates should offer status meetings or ongoing reporting to continually keep you updated on their efforts and to hold themselves accountable for their performance. It’s also commonplace for agencies to provide access to any accounts they create on your behalf so you can access data directly and have the ability to transfer accounts to another agency later on if desired. Beware of any firms that are reluctant to offer this type of transparency.


Does an agency sound like they’re selling snake oil? While a firm should be confident in their abilities, beware of firms that make unrealistic promises. In the SEO space, it’s immediately concerning when someone promises to have your website “ranking #1 on Google”, especially without the research to gauge keywords’ competitiveness and the disclaimer that SEO often takes months to earn significant ranking improvements.

The best agencies offer realistic goals, provide transparency, and have the type of long-standing client relationships that just aren’t possible with a “quick sell” mentality.

The Vibe Check

Sometimes it just comes down to the “vibe” check. Does the agency match the values, culture, and pace of your business? For example, if responsiveness is critical to your business, select a firm that can meet those expectations. If your ideal clients are executive-level professionals, ensure the agency can create messaging and visuals that speak well to that audience.

Beware of agencies that spend more time talking about themselves than your needs. Firms should express the qualifications that enable them to help you; however, the discussion should revolve around your needs and include intelligent questions indicating they attempted to learn about your business before the meeting.


An ideal marketing agency will not only help you to grow your business, but should feel like a natural extension of your team. While each business and its needs are unique, considering these high-level questions can help you select the proper partner and avoid having to repeat this process unnecessarily.

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Taylor Brown

Taylor is the owner & digital strategist of Go-To Man Marketing. With a passion for digital marketing and analytics, he's helped clients to grow their businesses for more than a decade.

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