How to Choose A Digital Marketing Agency
Last Updated on August 29, 2023
Swinging his left leg slowly off his 17-hand horse, he slides to the ground, boots creating an explosion of dust. When it clears, you see a smiling face, and a callous-free hand outstretched.
Will you offer your hand to this city slicker?
You’re hesitant to proceed. Why all the talk of horses and dust clouds?
But you’re curious.
Here’s the thing: Every small business we’ve encountered is hesitant at first to try a new strategy/spend money/put themselves out there.
We get it. This is your livelihood, your sweat, your sleepless nights. That’s why working with a partner—not a vendor—is so important. We’re here to help you on how to choose a digital marketing agency.
But what does “partnership” mean for small businesses?
- Having a team who’s there to do the things you don’t know how or have time to do, so you can focus on what’s important
- Having an extension of your team: a cadre of people acting as business strategists, data analysts, researchers, challengers, jokesters, and trend-spotters on your behalf
- A team you can call on to update a website, launch online ads, or get a POV on whether the robots are, in fact, taking over
The way we earn trust and years-long clients is to be honest, approachable PARTNERS.
As an execution agency, we thoughtfully create, deliver, and improve digital marketing for small businesses.
What makes a good partner?
- Partners don’t overpromise
- Partners are patient
- Partners pause and ask questions instead of jumping right in
- Partners deliver results
Four steps on how to chose a digital marketing agency for your small businesses.
#1: Results instead of unknowns
We want small businesses to have fuel to grow. To do that, you need to focus on tactics that get results. If we wanted to focus on making you look good, we’d create a brand book, a style guide, and emblazon t-shirts with your logo. We love swag, but it won’t help your business grow.
We work with our clients to set measurable goals for projects, whether that’s paid advertising or a website refresh. That way you’ll know that an investment in digital advertising, messaging, or website design generated leads, helped you recruit talent, or whatever your goals might be.
#2: Authentic guidance instead of transactions
Transactional relationships—you give me a can of Skyline Chili for $7 (dang, inflation)—are good for retailers. They are not good relationships for businesses that need strategies and solutions for growing their business.
A partner, on the other hand, tends to pause and ask questions, seeking out the next right thing, and then the next.
A small business’ ability to make smart decisions often hinges on their partner’s guidance in explaining strategies and steering them away from magic bullets and toward proven strategies.
- We like to debate options and talk about the tradeoffs before picking a path
- We tend to take the long view, creating an adaptable plan, rather than opting for an easy, one-size-fits-all approach, which rarely delivers the results you hope for
As a partner, we want to help our clients accomplish more, understand their options, and support the decisions they make.
#3: A relationship mindset instead of a project mindset.
Many agencies think in terms of projects. We won the branding work! We won the ad account!
On the flip side, we like to consider the lifetime value of a relationship. We won a new client! How do we over-deliver, build trust, and help their business grow?
We’ll admit this approach isn’t perfectly altruistic, because we want mutually beneficial relationships. It can be daunting when deciding how to choose a digital marketing agency. We’ve found that when we approach projects as a means to build relationships, our clients get better results and we get to do work that matters to us.
Many clients stay with us for years and years—and many of those started with a bite-sized project.
As of writing this post, almost one-half of our clients have been working with us for 5 years or more. That’s long-term partnership!
“It feels like they’re in the next room!” or “They anticipate our needs!”
That’s exactly what we’re hoping to hear, and often do.
#4: Patience instead of urgency.
Are you irked when the product you ordered at 9:34 p.m. last night still hasn’t arrived by 11 a.m. the next day?
Our brains have been rewired to expect everything, RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. Urgency prevails. But for now, let’s slow down.
We know that with small businesses, creating a new messaging strategy, redesigning a website, and launching digital ads is a lot to manage at one time. We have the patience to come at things strategically, and craft a feasible execution plan that will reach marketing goals at a more modest rate.
Do we want to get to executing so we can test to see what works? 100%. And when clients are up for moving quickly, so are we.
Even when businesses want to move with a sense of urgency, they deserve to have realistic expectations and define achievable goals, to avoid frustration.
The truth is, results require patience.
Results from digital marketing depend on your sales cycle, whether you sell products or services, and your budget, among other things. It can take 12 to 18 months or more to get the numbers and marketing momentum you want.
There are, of course, exceptions.
We recently launched an ad campaign seeking to recruit new hires for a product delivery company. Within two weeks, they had dozens of leads. Good partners don’t over-promise. They work hard to over-deliver.
CLD Partners is one small business whose growth accelerated after working with us as their agency partner.
A partnership might not be right for small businesses who…
- Already know every tactic they’d like to explore—with little interest in being guided or exploring multiple strategies
- Want to buy a single project to accomplish everything and that’s it
- Expect results on everything overnight
To sum it up, you can go further by learning how to choose a digital marketing agency.
Partners have your back and will help you to:
- Accomplish more
- Understand all of your digital options
- Be supported in the decisions you make
- Set realistic expectations
- Get better results
- Reach immediate goals while also planning for the future
- Lead the way in your industry
Many small businesses have great leaders and are earning revenue. But the reality is, using confusing messaging or ignoring digital advertising will limit your growth. With the right agency partner, you can accomplish much more.
If you’re wondering how this is possible for your business, let’s chat. We won’t assume we’re the right fit for your company, but we will ask lots of questions. We are here to help you choose a digital marketing agency that works best for you.