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So You Wanna Work with a Marketing Agency?

Take comfort. Many companies or nonprofits have been there before. You want to do a better job marketing what you sell or what you’re about, but the tyranny of other urgent tasks keeps you from making as concerted effort as you’d like. You occasionally update your website; you’ve made cursory attempts to break into social media; you’ve even put together a really nice print piece to hand out at tradeshows and conferences. But what’s missing is a comprehensive, cohesive, ongoing marketing plan and strategy that sets goals and tasks for each month or quarter of the year, putting money and human resource power behind it.

You’ve started shopping for an agency to handle this work for you, and you know what you want from them: great design, timeliness, the ability to learn what you do quickly and well, the right price, understanding of your audience and market, and much more.

But what can you do internally to make sure this relationship goes well?

Here are a few tips to get your ducks in a row before you choose an agency.


Pull your marketing materials together. One of the first things that we’re going to do once you hire us is ask to see what you’ve done in the past. So be ready. Pull together any printed materials you’ve disseminated. Get us copies of every billboard that’s ever gone up. Let us see the evolution of your logo over time. How about collateral materials? Do you have business cards, letterhead, stationery, and envelopes? And what’s been written? Do you have a mission statement or motto? Has that been public-facing or hidden? The quicker we can see what you’ve done – and what’s worked and what hasn’t – the quicker we can start making suggestions about what comes next.

Pick a single point of contact. To whom will we be speaking in the organization? It saves us time and saves you money if we send all of our work to one person for review. On your end, that person can circulate design drafts or marketing copy to whomever needs to see it, gather notes, and then edits things back to us in one nice document. It saves us having to field several e-mail from several people that may, in fact, be contradictory. It also helps us know who to contact for approval on expenditures or decisions that need a quick answer.

Get clear on your desired results. Why are we developing a marketing strategy for you? Do you want to increase sales? Are you looking to correct a public relations debacle? Has there been a major shift in mission that needs to be communicated? Whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish, get clear on that before you spend the money to pay an agency. For one, we want to be able to measure our results, so we need to know the criteria. Second, we will likely suggest different routes and different methods, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. If you know what’s causing you pain, we’ll better know how to ease it.

Know what you want to spend. We’re going to ask, “What’s your marketing budget?” It’s just a fact of life. So, have a conversation internally about what this strategy is worth to you. And also consider the cost if you don’t get a strategy in place.


For more hints on how to prep internally for a successful relationship with an agency, don’t hesitate to give Cassel Bear a call. We’ll be happy to help you think through what you can be doing in advance of an agency relationship.