Mastering Marketing Agencies And Outsourcing

Marketing covers a large variety of mediums and approaches, each with their own experts, techniques and necessary connections. It may not be sensible to try and handle every element in-house. In these cases, outsourcing to marketing agencies may be the way to go.

You want to be getting the best from your agency, so it’s important to hire the right one. This article talks about a few things to consider when deciding to hire an agency.

Treat it like an employee hire

The idea of hiring marketing agencies may seem daunting for newer business owners, but in many ways it’s just like hiring a new employee. You want someone who’s a good fit and will bring value to your business. And you’ll want to know references, prior experience and special skills.

Start off with your job advert. Why you’ve decided to look for an agency should inform what you want from your hire. Getting this down on paper will help you when researching options and help them know if they’re the right fit for you.

Make a shortlist of options based on the conditions you’ve set out and approach these ones with your specification. You can build your shortlist by using your connections, asking your marketing team who they’ve worked with before, and making use of connecting services that operate just like job search websites.

Pay attention to how they market themselves when researching them. If their own advertising feels low effort or not to your taste, then what they produce for you will likely be the same.

Understanding the pitch

Agencies will respond to your interest with one of two kinds of pitches. You can treat these pitches like candidates interviewing. They give you an opportunity to test the agency for how well they’ll fit with your business as well as seeing what they deliver. 

You sometimes get specific pitches where the agency decides how they would handle your marketing in direct response to what you said in the specification. It is common for agencies to expect payment to do these pitches.

Often you will get more general pitches. These sell the agency rather than a specific campaign, but are usually free and no-obligation.

Just like when interviewing candidates for a position, create your criteria by which you’ll judge the pitches in advance. If possible, host all the pitches on the same day so that they’re fresh in your memory when you decide. If you have people available with relevant expertise, include them on your panel. 

Making your decisions

Make your decisions soon after you’ve seen the pitches. Remember that you’ll be working with them for a while, so they should fit well into your company culture as well as meeting the more tangible factors. The following are questions that it’s suggested you have an answer to when considering an agency:

  • What is in their portfolio?
  • Who are their existing clients?
  • Do they have experience with all of your needs (e.g. TV adverts if you want one)?
  • What will day-to-day work with them be like?
  • How did they market themselves?

Questions like these will help you understand what you will get out of your relationship with that agency. The pitches give you what you need to judge the people, while the rest gives context and credentials, just like an interview and CV. You’re hiring them to sell your business, so they should impress you when they sell themselves. 

Maintain your relationship

You and the agency both have an important role to play in your marketing so you’ll have to find your balance. You know your business, and they know marketing.

You want to make sure the marketing that they produce stays true to your brand and business ethos. Don’t hold on too tightly, though. If marketing is something you are struggling with, it’s likely that you don’t know how to sell yourself well.

Marketing agencies specialise in selling an image. Their ideas may be what you need to build a successful brand, so be receptive to their suggestions. By the same token, don’t allow their creativity to go too far and take things to somewhere off-brand or irrelevant. 

To summarise

Marketing agencies are something you’ll be working with for a good amount of time on something that’s very important to your business. It’s important to take the time to find the best one for you and not to rush to any decisions.

Choosing your agency and building your brand is something that a Part-time Marketing Director can help with. If you think your business could benefit from support, contact us and speak to one of our Regional Directors to see how we can help.


Contact your Regional Director of Boardroom Advisors

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.