Think twice before you ask these questions when sourcing for a marketing agency. Look for a partner instead of a "vendor" to help your business.
Over the years, we have received hundreds of inbound digital marketing inquiries every month.
While some are friendly and nice people (#blessed), there are still many who are new to digital marketing, or have no idea how to work with an agency.
You need to understand that you are sourcing professional services to grow your business, it is not about getting a "vendor" who sell you the cheapest product in town.
We are listing down most of the frequently asked questions, the DON'Ts and DO's when you are looking for a marketing agency.
In short, you need to help yourself first, do some homework prior to contacting any agency.
DON'Ts #1: "You are the expert, tell us what you can do for us?"
We learn along the way that people who ask this question are those who have no idea what they want. It is like when you visit a doctor and ask "you are the expert, can you tell me what's wrong with me?"
Would it sound much more logical if you ask "hey doc, I am having a headache so can you help to check what's wrong?"
You need to be very clear on the marketing objective, be it to boost business reach, video views, website traffic, social media followers, email subscribers, leads, etc.
Best to give the agency concise brief or requirements in order to get professional advice.
DON'Ts #2: "I don't have a budget set, tell me how much do I need?"
Marketing is an investment, the simple idea is to invest x% of your business revenue or profit on marketing.
Imagine if you need to source an office to rent and tell your agent "I don't know what's my budget range, can you advise?"
It is only possible for the agent to help if you ask "I need an office close to KLCC, best if it's within RM8K / month, or can you tell me what's the budget required for building X?"
Similarly, you either define your marketing budget, or set a target (for example, "I need to achieve 1M video views") for the agency to advise you.
DON'Ts #3: "Can you just give me your proposal? Your propose lah"
Businesses need to understand that digital marketing is a professional service, not a commodity.
If you ask the question above without giving any clear requirements, it is like asking your fengshui master "can you remotely diagnose my office's qi first, you propose lah how I can improve my business?"
The best thing is, "btw, I have to review your diagnosis first before engaging (and pay) you."
Do your research first and shortlist agencies who you think are capable, talk to them sincerely, brief them professionally and set the right expectations.
DON'Ts #4: "What is the ROI or KPI you can promise?
It's like when you are buying a property and asking your property agent or developer to promise you the return on investment.
Don't get us wrong, it is perfectly fair to ask for your ROI forecast, and work closely with your marketing agency to achieve the KPI.
You need to understand that marketing effectiveness might only contribute 20% to your success, while 80% is depending on your product or service offerings.
Agency is here to help you, not for you to blame when things are not working as planned.
DON'Ts #5: "I can do this myself, why do I need to engage you?
This is akin to asking your interior designer "I can do my own design, why do I need to pay you to do so?"
Please don't contact the agencies in the first place if you are having such thoughts. Established agencies wouldn't need to convince you why they need to help you too.
Are you good at digital marketing? Does it make sense to hire in-house? Do you really have a capable and experienced in-house team?
If the answer is yes, just go ahead and do it yourself, no problem.
DON'Ts #6: "I am not too sure as I am contacting on behalf of my boss"
Sad but true, this is quite common among the SMEs.
If you are an SME boss, and if you are unable to attract good marketing talents to work for you, you gotta drive this initiative by yourself.
Don't behave like a "big boss" and delegate this important task to your junior staff who has no idea about digital marketing. Reminder, this is not about sourcing suppliers who offer the cheapest price.
Put your ego aside. find and talk to the right partners yourself. If you are sincere, people will help you in return.