How to choose your Marketing Agency

There are hundreds of marketing agencies in Perth and many more around the world for your business to choose from, so how should you know which one is the right fit?

My name is Harley Mitaros and I run social media specialised marketing agency Pryzm. Entering our fourth year as a specialist marketing agency in Perth, Western Australia, we have come across many clients with positive accounts and horror stories about their previous digital marketing partners. As an agency, we have both heard of and experienced ourselves these situations and have built an expertise on what our clients are looking for and what they do not need.

We have adapted HubSpot’s Customer Service Tenets for agency to create a client-side checklist for how they may choose a marketing agency, as well as adding a few of our own.

We have kept this guide Pryzm-advert free until the very end!


Could you work with an agency you only have online and phone contact with? It could save you money in the long term.

Could you work with an agency you only have online and phone contact with? It could save you money in the long term.

(1) Did the agency treat you like a person and not a number?
As brilliant as large agencies are at their trade, if you are one of their smallest clients, you could find yourself receiving a cookie-cutter approach to your marketing. Each business is different and an agency that spends time trying to understand your unique business problems when pitching to you is a good sign. On the flip side, an agency that leaves little room for you to explain your business situation should be considered with some caution.

(2) Where are they located and does that suit your business?
Is your agency based physically far away or struggle to catch up in person? That’s okay, if it suits your business. Services like re-targeting, social media advertising, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and website design do not necessarily need to people to meet in real life. If you decide to choose an agency that is far away, ensure they make time to talk to you about your business problems, progress and ideas on a regular and consistent basis.

(3) In pitching, did the agency solve for your success or theirs?
Similar to point one, process is important for agency and all good agencies have them. However, business does not occur on process; it’s unpredictable and leaves people surprised. Make sure their service is contingency-ready; ask questions like how quickly they can change a photography session to a graphic design service if that situation is to arise. You don’t want your agency to say yes without deeper thought, so don’t hang out for a resounding approval. Instead make other suggestions or recommendations and see what they do to accommodate you.

(4) Is it as easy to enter as it is to exit the contract?
This won’t always be the case with the ideal agency but make sure you have an out. No business deserves to be imprisoned by their own marketing department; anything more than giving the agency three months notice to cancel should be carefully considered before entering agreement.

(5) Does the agency admit its gaps?
One of the most important parts of judging an agency, there is no such thing as an invincible agency. Some will be stronger in creative production, others will be tech-heads and able to put tracking code across your site with expert reporting. Make sure you ask your agency where they use expert sub-contractors instead of internal operations. After all if they do, then take that as a positive; if you are a jack of all trades, are you a master of none?

(6) Is their bill pricing value-based?
Is the structure of the contract based around the agency’s costs or the requirements for your business to achieve its goals? Be meticulous here; ask questions about how each line of the monthly invoice makes your business better off than it was before. Whilst the invoice will summarise the service to a degree (an agency can’t tell you all it’s tricks), this will ensure there’s a process between their actions and your requirements of them.

If you have received a quote with one line item on it, that’s a red flag. (unless you requested one small item!)

Data is the new gold. Make sure you choose an agency that knows how to use it legally and correctly.

Data is the new gold. Make sure you choose an agency that knows how to use it legally and correctly.

(7) Does the agency have a niche?
Specialist agencies are built for certain industries. You will find many agencies out there that particularly specialise in real estate or food particularly and their structures and processes may be suited better or worse to your business’. Some hire specialty staff to deal with certain accounts and can have a number of different internalised deeper knowledge bases.

(8) What’s their philosophy on data?
Data is the lifeblood of digital marketing. What’s their plans for handling your data, if they have any at all? Your business might not require them to manage a database for you but if so, quickly check their website for a Privacy Policy. If they don’t have one, that can be a red flag indicating they may not know all consumer laws regarding privately owned data.

(9) How often will the agency ask you for feedback?
The more frequent, the better. If the agency references a contract review anytime in your first three months, that’s a great sign. Asking for feedback is an indicator that the agency is considerate of your income, time and resources as a business.

(10) And finally; how pushy was the agency in signing you up?
If the agency is persistent in pursuing your business, that’s okay, perhaps even suggesting the agency will value your work. If the agency is rushing you to sign on the dotted line as quickly as possible, that’s a red flag. A good test is to tell the agency you need to mull the decision over for two more weeks to ensure their reaction is responsible and adult. That should be your final test of the above list - so make sure you sign them up at the end of the two weeks if they stay polite.


Conclusion

If I were to finish running my agency today (unlikely!) and start working as a client-side Marketing Manager seeking an agency, I’d keep my search to three simple conditions: flexibility, time-availability, expertise.

Make sure the agency can change direction quickly if needed. Ensure your accounts manager has ample time to regularly communicate with you. Investigate what your agency is good at; look at their positive results, see what industry they were in and the exact service they provided. Pick one that has a story similar to the one you want to see happen for your business.

Ask the above 10 questions and use them to score against these three criteria. It’s worth even making up your own scoring chart for each, whittling your list down to your top three scorers and making a gut decision from there.

Hopefully this guide helps you choose the right marketing partner!


The Pryzm Pitch

If your business was already considering us as an agency, we’ll get the ball rolling and answer the above questions for you.

Our specialty is optimising social media campaign delivery. We can set a creative direction and use the best contractors to deliver the final result.

Our specialty is optimising social media campaign delivery. We can set a creative direction and use the best contractors to deliver the final result.

1. Will Pryzm talk to you like a person and not a number?
As a small agency, we have the opportunity to sit down with our clients regularly to discuss their unique business problems. Whether it’s over coffee, drinks, in your boardroom or our meeting room, we can structure our contract to meet as regularly as needed. We have a client we see weekly, one we see fortnightly and some monthly or longer.


2. Where are we located?
We’re located in Subiaco in Perth, Western Australia. When we hear about your business, we can help you work out if distance will be an issue for provided a successful service.


3. Will we solve for your success or our systems?
One of the strengths Pryzm is proud to have is the ability to tune in to your goals. As a business, we’re seeking sustainable contracts rather than sugar hits, so if we see medium and long term success is out of the question with our already-flexible system, we will let you know a partnership is not viable just yet.


4. How hard is it to exit our contract?
Pryzm just requires being given notice to exit a contract. Depending on the size of the contract, it will range between one and three months to exit. Alternatively, we can contingency plan in the contract - so if something doesn’t go your business’ way, we can have a pre-agreed change to the contract in that scenario. We like our clients happy and comfortable as partners of Pryzm!


5. Does Pryzm admit its gaps?
As a small agency, we don’t have in-house digital designers or videographers, so many parts of our creative offering are sub-contracted to trusted suppliers we regularly use. We won’t hide them from you either; we’re happy for you to meet our sub-contractors and let you make the decision if you want to look elsewhere.


6. Is Pryzm’s pricing value-based?

Absolutely. Our pricing is based on delivering win-wins, something that’s suitable for your business to achieve success and one that resources us properly to give that plan the time and resources it needs to succeed. We’re always happy to discuss an invoice with you and break down each service and it’s goal, including wheeling out the whiteboard to show you how it integrates with your other services!


7. Does Pryzm have a niche?

Glad you asked! We love conversion strategy - that is, how do we turn your target market customer into a buying customer? We are so addicted to conversion funnels at Pryzm (an illustration of the customer journey from brand awareness to sale - ask us about these!) that our logo is even shaped like one.

Some of our notable current and past clientele.

Some of our notable current and past clientele.

In terms of industry, we have deep knowledge of sports marketing, ASX-compliant communication, hospitality marketing and leads marketing for professional business (lawyers, real estate agents etc). Check out our client list to learn more!


8. What’s our philosophy on data?

The more we can use to understand your market, the better. We adhere to the strictest privacy standards and none of your data is combine with other clients data, not even for Pryzm records (because it’s illegal). You can learn more by reading our Privacy Policy.


9. How often does Pryzm ask for feedback?

If I could ask my clients everyday, I would. Feedback is crucial to my business, the more I can get, the better. At Pryzm, we ask as much as possible without annoying our clients. Our process here is when we present our results, to have an open and honest discussion with the client, empowering then inviting them to share their deep thoughts. Particularly with our web design, on first draft, we’re often heard saying “if you hate 100% of it and want everything changed, please don’t hold back any detail.”

Still, we’re always improving here - so feel free to give us unsolicited feedback too!


10. How pushy are we to sign you up?

As stated before, our business goal is to acquire sustainable contracts built on trust, dedication and integrity. We’re seeking clients that are ready now to be serviced - so if we detect hesitation, we’ll explore that reason for waiting with you, equip you with the knowledge of what makes you ready to go and let you make the decision in your own time, no matter how long that is, if ever.


Curious to learn more? Let’s get in touch.

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