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7 Questions to Ask When Vetting an Outsourced Marketing Firm

Under the right circumstances, outsourcing your marketing can be one of the smartest decision you’ll make with your business strategy. Whether you are looking to compliment your existing team’s efforts or are fully outsourcing your marketing efforts, hiring a team of marketing experts can be a powerful solution. A reputable outsourced marketing firm can bring a depth of expertise and library of lead generation deliverables that an internal hire will be unable to match. Before jumping in, however, you’ll need to be equipped with the right questions to ask the firms you are vetting so that you finish with a winner versus a lemon. With that said, we have come up with seven key questions to ask during the dating process that will greatly increase your chances of long-term outsourced marketing success versus ending up with a firm that crashes and burns after an agreement is signed.

1. How will we be communicating?

If you plan on allowing someone else to spearhead your marketing efforts and speak on behalf of your brand, it’s imperative to be kept in the loop. How transparent are they going to be with you when it comes to their efforts? Do they intend on checking in with progress updates once a day, once a week, once a month? Will it be via phone, email, Skype or in person meetings? Is there a clear process that’s been built around this communication or is it casual? In our experience, casual is not good and you will end up having to chase vs. being led. You should also ask what project management tools and platforms the firm is using to collaborate with your team. Are they using Google Drive or Basecamp to file share and collaborate with your team or are they randomly sending you files via email? While you should not micromanage your newfound marketing team, it’s crucial to expect a structured communication process that supports a healthy transfer of ideas and feedback. Without this, they will feel like a vendor you are chasing versus a partner that blends well with your internal team.

2. How do you plan on quantifying our marketing efforts?

In today’s digital world, marketing firms have access to the dashboards, tracking tools and analytics software necessary to fully measure all of your marketing spend. In our experience, many firms, however, are hesitant to track and measure their efforts. Why put yourself on the hot seat with measuring marketing ROI if the client is not demanding full transparency of all deployed marketing initiatives? Some questions you should ask include the tracking tools they will be using, how they will be presenting the results of their efforts (a basic Word document vs. built out Excel spreadsheet vs. a high end dashboard software) and what key performance indicators (KPIs) they will be consistently measuring and reporting on. Some examples of KPIs include: Cost per Lead, Cost per Acquisition, and Return on Ad Spend. To be sure they’re diligently measuring the tactics they implement, consider requesting a list of measurement tools that their team is currently utilizing for their existing clients, which tools they plan to use for your campaign, as well as which metrics will be used in the reports they present to you.

3. How much turnover is there on a typical team?

A high employee turnover rate from the team dedicated to your account can cripple your growth initiatives and stop any momentum you might have enjoyed. Imagine spending six months bringing your outsourced marketing team up to speed on the nuances of your industry and growth efforts and then having to start over with a new team member replacing the person that left. In the marketing world, this reality happens far too often. While there are no guarantees of someone staying with you for the long term – whether it’s an internal hire or a member of your outsourced marketing team – you should proactively ask what the firm’s employee retention rate is. Make sure to be specific by asking how many employees have left the company in the past 12 months and what the average duration of each employee is at the firm. You should also ask what they are doing to ensure they have engaged, happy and productive employees. Is it a marketing sweat shop environment or are the firm leaders actively investing in their team? Most importantly, who wants to work with a company whose team is not passionate about what they do? I doubt they will be doing their best work for you and going the extra mile to ensure your marketing objectives are being met.