Three questions to ask before hiring a digital agency

Entrusting your digital marketing accounts to an agency can be a giant leap of faith in an industry where barriers to entry are so low. Countless people claiming to be “experts” after having taken a single online course or having a watched a few tutorials, are leaving businesses burnt and struggling to re-build their digital presence.

As the founder of digital agency Menace Group, I’ve helped countless businesses – who have been sold promises of first-page results and quick-fix marketing tactics – to get back to a customer and strategy first approach, to get real results.

We don’t have to study for seven years and be qualified like a doctor before we can advise a company on their strategy. What we do have to do, however, is get results.

If there is one thing that used to really irk me back in the day of my employed marketing career, it was the use of the term brand awareness to justify the spend of a campaign. It was a matter of simply putting the brand out there and their job was done, and there could be tens, if not hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars dedicated to it.

Setting brand awareness as a strategy in isolation is old hat. What is important is the way in which you go about generating and ultimately measuring that brand awareness; the channels you select, the messages that you put out there and their intention and required action.

Before hiring a third-party agency to bring your campaign to life, here are three critical questions you should be asking:

  1. Where is the evidence?

Ask for evidence of what they’re telling you. Whether it is the impact of a recent campaign or insights – always ask for evidence to back up claims. Ask for testimonials from current or previous clients and dig deeper into the comments – what have been their strengths and do these align with your goals?

  1. Which clients have they won and lost and why?

Ask which clients they’ve won and lost to both gauge honesty and determine the number and scale of accounts they’re working on. If they’ve lost accounts, look for the reasoning and where they’ve endeavored to take action to improve their business as a result.  Listen for the cues that show how they have taken ownership of their failures, where they have honestly put their hand on their heart and realised that they couldn’t get the results they had anticipated, or where a client has outgrown them and moved onto the next level, or where they’ve simply made a mistake.

This is truth. There is no such thing as a perfect digital marketing and social media agency. We can’t predict the future, but we can do everything humanly possible to ensure we are putting our best foot forward, using experience and qualified data, conducting research, and learning about and understanding a market and a target audience to maximise every opportunity and yield the best results.

  1. What will be the return on investment?

ROI should be calculated differently depending on the set objectives. If you are using a third-party agency, work with them to help them understand the value you are seeking. Be transparent with them in demonstrating key metrics such as your average sale value, or the importance of a lead to a business. Be open about the success or failure of what you’ve done previously. Evaluate exactly what you did, how much you invested, and why you believed it worked or did not.

Kevin Spiteri, Founder, Menace Group and author of “I Just Want It To Work: A Guide to Understanding Digital Marketing and Social Media for Frustrated Business Owners, Managers and Marketers”

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