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How to find the right digital marketing agency for your start up?

Finding the right digital marketing agency for your startup business can be a challenging and also confusing task. But taking this step is an important aspect of your business journey. Not only is choosing the right partner critical to your success, but equally, it's critical to delegate some of the responsibilities which may need more time, effort, and skills than are currently available within the organisation. 

It might be tempting to just Google a list of agencies and choose the ones that show up to the top. But, here are a few ways in which you can choose the right partner for you. 

  1. Identify your needs: Before you start your search, it's important to clearly define your marketing needs and goals. While many agencies claim to be a one-stop-shop for all things digital marketing, the reality is that it has evolved in a vast industry, and today there are specialist agencies that focus on specific skill sets or services. If you’re unclear which services to choose from, ask the agencies you reach out to and also explain why they would recommend a particular service. This will also serve as a litmus test for their own intent. We will cover that further.  

  2. Research potential agencies: You may find that some agencies show up through a simple Google search, and others if you look for phrases such as “Facebook Marketing Agency”, “Digital marketing agencies near me”, “digital marketing agency for my start-up” and so on. This only indicates that they have optimised their website to show up for these services. This would be the first step in determining whether their website corresponds with the services they are offering. 

  3. Ask for case studies: While it’s common to see websites loaded with “testimonials of clients” which are unrecognisable names, and faces, often some of the best agencies don’t always disclose their client information. This could be for a variety of reasons. Their clients want to maintain confidentiality, they have non-competes in place or a slew of reasons why you may not find information readily available. If this is the case, ask for case studies or examples of how they have helped companies in a similar space, or solved similar problems. 

  4. Look for agencies where you can read about the owners: You will find a multitude of agencies when you search for some of the phrases mentioned. Research the owners to see the kind of people you will be doing business with. It also helps you assess their own digital footprint and their perspective. At this point, although it may feel like a lot of work, you will be thankful for having done this research instead of hiring people who may not deliver the desired results. 

  5. Schedule consultations: Once you've narrowed down your list of potential agencies, schedule consultations with a few of them to get a better understanding of their approach and how they work. Ask about their experience working with startups and what types of campaigns they've run in the past. Often companies will be happy to consult with you over a call, and might also offer an audit of your business’s footprint. However, these audits may or may not be free, depending on their policies. Do ask if they offer an audit and if it’s free. 

  6. Evaluate the cost: A good agency will explain the costs of their services and might be willing to work with you on a budget. While negotiation is commonplace, also accept that the company you are hiring comprises people with skills. While digital marketing is considered easy, in reality, the average digital marketer needs to keep up with over 10 tools to stay on top of their game. 

  7. Trust your gut: After going through these steps, trust your gut feeling about which agency will be the best fit for your startup. The most suitable agency will make you feel comfortable, answer your questions and have a service level agreement in place so you know what to expect from them, including responses. 

  8. Sign an agreement: Prior to signing the agency, discuss what success looks like, define metrics and milestones, and have an ongoing communication channel to evaluate performance and check results. Any good agency will be upfront about the goals that can be achieved, or seemingly lofty. It’s advisable to follow a more measured course of action instead of working with someone who encourages you to take risky bets without fully understanding your business. 

Through this 8-point checklist, you will discover a number of agencies with a variety of services. And while you may choose one for the interim, it will help you evaluate different companies over a period of time.