5 Tips to Help You Choose the Right Marketing and Growth Agency

While kickstarting our own growth at Growth Guild, I’ve had the privilege of talking with so many passionate people about the everyday successes, challenges and roadblocks they face when it comes to marketing and growth within their organization. Always, it’s clear how difficult a decision it can be to trust your company’s growth to an outsourced team (understandably!).

Whether you’re a scrappy startup or a Marketing Director for a growing mid-sized company looking to operationalize some of your inbound efforts, growing a company is a daunting task. There are so many buzzwords in the marketing space, it’s hard to know who’s who and what’s what. I’ve spent the vast majority of my career on the business or corporate side of the marketing aisle, whether it be the early days at dotloop or embedded in a big team at Oracle. So I can empathize with some of the challenges that come with selecting the right agency for your company.

Most often, successful engagements begin with an understanding among you and your entire team around why exactly you need to outsource a part of your marketing and growth strategy: Are you looking for leads? Are you looking to re-ignite your brand through a redesign? Are you looking to introduce an Account Based Marketing strategy? Are you looking to implement systems that you’ll transition to an eventual new hire? Alignment internally is a great first step. Here are 5 helpful tips to help you choose the right marketing and growth agency.

1. Start with referrals.

If you’ve worked with an agency before and saw success, you’re more likely to find it again and you know what to expect both from a work dynamic and a result perspective. The same goes for agencies referred to you from your network. Go beyond the first page of Google and invest some time in vetting your potential growth team and agency. Finding the right agency for you and your organization’s growth is critical to hitting your goals. Ask your peers, sales and marketing message boards and vet a mix of referrals and new vendors to find an agency that feels natural based on your goals.

2. Understand the difference between a consultant and an agency.

Just like the difference between being vegetarian and vegan, they’re similar but definitely not the same. A consultant is going to bring a wealth of deep expertise, likely lead workshops and offer new approaches but will leave you with a plan you’ll be responsible for executing yourself. An agency is likely to offer a similar skillset but with a greater emphasis on execution alongside strategy. Both are valuable, but choosing the wrong one at the wrong time can be a costly miss.

3. Align on your KPIs early and often.

It’s can be easy have a few meetings, feel a good about next steps and then as all marketers know, three weeks later everything can change. Your growth agency should always be aligned and be able to pivot their strategy as fast necessary to aim towards those goals determined by the client. If you need help, check out this helpful tool from our friends at SalesHacker.com.

4. Ask the agency to describe their secret sauce (not give it away!).

If they know what it is, maybe it’s a good fit. Growing a company's marketing, sales and demand requires a lot of deliberate effort and a mix of agile strategies backed by experience. More often than not, there is no silver bullet for growth, but there are most definitely some quick wins that can have a substantial impact. Sure, turning on some Facebook ads can result in a few leads early on, but what does their paid strategy look like long term? Work with your consultant or agency to try do identify specifics as soon as possible and push them to show results quickly.

5. Understand the people and their approach.

Just like any project small or large, the people you are collaborating with can dictate the success and outcome as well as your experience during the critical building phase. It’s perfectly ok to ask how open they are to iterating quickly on ideas, how they manage projects or how they respond to feedback on their creative. A good agency will take a client’s feedback early on and try to adapt their own works styles to better match the client’s. Just like any amazing team, an agency should have a solid foundation of experience and creative ideas from a problem/solution and campaign perspective. They should be adaptable and accountable to delivering not only assets but more importantly, results that lead to growth.

Bonus: Know the tools of the trade.

There are over 5,000 marketing, sales and growth tools on the market and new ones being launched each day. It may be obvious, but it’s critically important that your agency has expertise with the tools your organization relies on day in and day out. If you’re a B2B organization powered by Salesforce, ask what their domain expertise is with Salesforce even if they’re only helping with campaigns. Sales enablement is critical to that success. If you’re using WooCommerce, make sure they know the strengths and weaknesses of the platform. No agency can be experts on all of these tools, but they can and should have a core set of experience on the most critical pieces of growth infrastructure for your organization.

Once you find an agency that’s the right fit for you, hit the ground running and have fun! Blending two teams can create a positive dynamic that’s inspiring to both parties. One of our favorite parts of being a growth agency is getting to meet people, brainstorm together and try new ideas. Sometimes, it takes a new set of eyes to really ignite a growth strategy.

Dave Paprocki