25 Essential Questions to Ask Your Marketing Agency

25 Essential Questions to Ask Your Marketing Agency

How can you get the most value from your marketing partners?

Gartner, Inc. recently reported new research showing that 50% of CMO’s digital marketing is outsourced. (U.S. Digital Marketing Spending Survey, 2013) This represents a significant investment in outside resources. With average marketing spend sitting at just over 10% of revenues and marketing budgets forecast to increase 6% in 2013, agencies – especially digital agencies – represent a huge investment.

To get and keep a competitive advantage, growing companies can’t afford to waste money on a marketing agency that doesn’t deliver. CMOs with broad marketing responsibility must oversee a lot of moving parts, including marketing technology, advertising, branding, digital strategies and promotions. Finding agencies that can work together support your strategic objectives is essential, and a mis-step can be costly.

If you’re considering an agency change or are thinking about hiring a new marketing partner, here are several questions you should ask before making your decision.

  1. How much experience do you (or your team) have? Get details about agency or client side experience and the various functions your prospective partners have held.
  2. Who else (if anyone) are you working with in my industry? Are there any competitive relationships I should know about?
  3. Who will be doing the work on my account? I want to meet the people who will be on my team and make sure we see eye-to-eye.
  4. How often will I see my account executive and the principal(s) of the agency?
  5. What recent successes can you cite, with specific details about your firm’s contributions?
  6. Can you provide project examples and case studies that demonstrate measurable results.
  7. Do you use freelancers? How often? What is their experience and skill level?
  8. How do you communicate with clients on progress and results? What tools and resources do you use to share information?
  9. Tell me about a project that didn’t work out, and what you did about it.
  10. When was the last time you lost an account? Why?
  11. In addition to current clients, can you provide a few former clients as references?
  12. What financial incentives do you have for products and services you may recommend? Do you get commissions or affiliate fees?
  13. What ongoing training do you provide for your staff? How do you ensure they stay current on the latest and greatest approaches?
  14. Are the “big names” on your client list companies you have worked with at this firm, or organizations your team has served or been employed by in the past (at other agencies)?
  15. Who do I call if I have a problem?
  16. What does your billing structure look like? Are there items that must be paid in advance? What about payment terms?
  17. What and how do you bill for expenses? Is there a mark-up or are expenses invoiced at cost?
  18. For creative work, how much can I edit, review or redirect work? Is there a limit on revisions?
  19. What do you consider a “rush” project? Are there fees for this? If so, how much?
  20. What are the core values of your firm? How do they impact your clients?
  21. What will you do to get to know my business?
  22. Do you expect to reassess – or reinvent – my strategy?
  23. Who do you think should have creative control?
  24. What happens if I’m not happy with someone on the team?
  25. What do you look for in a successful client relationship?

Did I forget anything you would ask?