By Jen Spencer

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You’ve been working with a marketing agency for the last year or so, and things seem to be OK. The only problem is, you have a nagging feeling that’s making you wonder if you’re working with the right agency. Because this is such a significant investment—in terms of not just the expense of your engagement, but also the opportunity costs associated with your overall revenue enablement plan—it’s important to be confident that you're partnering with the right people.

Take the time to stop and consider these four signs that you’re working with the right agency:

1. Your Marketing Agency Has Special Expertise You Need

Chances are, the reason you hired your marketing agency in the first place was they had expertise you needed. For example, you may have wanted help implementing and supporting a marketing automation technology like HubSpot, Marketo, or Terminus. Perhaps your goal was to execute a demand generation methodology like inbound marketing or account-based marketing (ABM). Or maybe the expertise you needed most was tactical, such as blog article writing or video production. Regardless, you entered into a partnership because there was something that the marketing agency was able to do for you that you needed at the time.

The questions to ask yourself now are:

  • “Does my marketing agency have special expertise in areas my company needs today?”
  • “Does my marketing agency have special expertise my company will need in the near future?”

Although these questions are simple to ask, they can be challenging to answer—not necessarily because you can’t answer them, but because answering them can be a little uncomfortable. When businesses partner with agencies, they build trust and rapport and sometimes even become friends. It’s not easy to tell your marketing agency that they no longer have the special expertise your business requires, but it is what’s best for the health and wellness of your business.

2. Your Marketing Team and Your Marketing Agency Complement Each Other

Growth-driven organizations will likely have at least one internal team member dedicated to marketing (or at least sales and marketing). Whether your marketing department is a team of one or a team of many, you’ll know you’re working with the right marketing agency if you complement each other. Perhaps this connects back to that special expertise your agency has, or maybe there are certain marketing activities that your internal team could do but would prefer not to. Either way, you’ll know you’re working with the right marketing agency if you have the data to support the idea that you’re better together.

Need help setting marketing goals, comparing agencies, and getting prepared for  an agency partnership? This guide will help.    

3. You're Never Worried About Lack of Communication from Your Marketing Agency

If you’re like me, you have multiple marketing campaigns in flight, all in varying stages of development, execution, and measurement. You have enough to worry about, so if you’re spending time worrying about the lack of communication from your marketing agency on these critical campaigns, that means your attention is being diverted away from the issues that matter most in your role.

Partnering with a marketing agency requires a great deal of trust. The best way for your agency to earn that trust is by a) doing what they say they’re going to do, and b) communicating with you every step of the way. You can’t drop by your marketing strategist’s desk on your way to the coffee maker, so the more your marketing strategist proactively communicates, the more comfortable you’ll feel about the work and your partnership.

4. You Envy Your Marketing Agency's Own Marketing Efforts

You probably wouldn’t trust a dentist with rotten teeth, so take a look at your marketing agency’s own marketing efforts. Personal design preferences and cultural differences aside, do you envy your marketing agency’s own marketing practice? Would you want a website similar to theirs? Take a look at the work your agency is producing for itself, and if you’d love to have similar assets and campaigns for your respective industry, this is a good sign that you’re well aligned.

If your marketing agency is hitting the mark on all four signs, you can rest easy knowing your partnership is strong. On the other hand, if your agency is failing to meet these requirements, it’s worth an open, collaborative discussion so that your “OK” feeling doesn’t turn sour. It may even be the right time to explore other options—if nothing else than to see who else is out there. And, hey, our Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Marketing Agency might be able to help.

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Set marketing goals, compare agencies, get prepared, and stay organized with this

Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Agency

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Jen Spencer

About the author

Jen Spencer leads SmartBug's sales, marketing, and brand strategy. Over her career, Jen has built several demand generation and sales enablement programs from the ground up and has experience working within tech startups, publicly traded companies, mid-market organizations, and the not-for-profit space. Jen subscribes to the notion that “we’re all in this together,” and great communication leads to great partnership. She loves animals, technology, the arts, and really good Scotch. Read more articles by Jen Spencer.

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