6 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Marketing Agencies

You know your business, inside and out, but when it comes to marketing and advertising, a little extra help from proven professionals can go a long way. With the right team at your side, you can increase brand awareness, reach new customers, and deepen your relationship with existing customers. You can also gain valuable insights into your business, products or services, and customer base. Now it’s just a matter of finding the right marketing and advertising partner….

For better or worse, there are a plethora of marketing agencies in Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and the surrounding area. (And if you’re in another part of the country or even the world, there’s probably plenty of marketing agencies to choose from there too.) So, how can you make sure you’re choosing the best partner for your business?

Interviewing advertising and marketing agencies in Cincinnati (or wherever you happen to be) is half first date, half job interview. We recommend you ask these six questions when speaking with any agency. Compare their answers to your business needs and goals and see if it’s a match made in heaven.

Question 1: What are your areas of expertise?

This question focuses on services that the marketing agency excels at. For example, some agencies may specialize in public relations but not technical services like on-site SEO (search engine optimization).

How St. Gregory Answers

St. Gregory is a full-service agency, with expertise in both traditional and digital marketing. We’ve intentionally invested in building out both sides of our business because we know that a holistic marketing strategy is paramount to success. And while there are certainly other advertising and marketing agencies in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky that consider themselves to be full-service, many of them do not have the in-house personnel to do it all, which brings us to….

Question 2: What are your in-house capabilities?

If a marketing agency claims to be an expert in an area but actually outsources all of the work, are they actually the experts? Will they be up-to-date on the tactic in question? Will they be able to make adjustments quickly or will they have to reach out to a third-party?

Another thing to consider when marketing agencies are using many vendors is cost. You may be paying a commission to the marketing agency but then sacrificing more advertising or creative dollars to the vendor (because obviously, those people have to get paid as well).

How St. Gregory Answers

At St. Gregory, vendors are the exception not the rule. We’re proud to say that by far, most of our client work is done in house. Just some of our in-house capabilities are:

  • Public Relations
  • Broadcast Media
  • Paid Digital Marketing (Google Ads and social media ads like Facebook and YouTube)
  • Copywriting
  • Creative Services
  • Video Production

We will occasionally tap a vendor for support if that’s what’s in the best interest of our client, but quality and cost are always top-of-mind in these situations. We’ve tested many different vendors over the years to be sure that those we do occasionally use provide the right level of quality and cost efficiency.

Question 3: Do you work with similar companies?

Do the marketing agencies you’re speaking with have experience with your industry or companies that have similar products or services? If they do, does that present any kind of conflict? For example if you’re a HVAC company talking to marketing agencies in Cincinnati and they already represent a direct competitor how will they serve both companies’ needs?

If the marketing agency does not have experience in your industry or with companies with similar products or services, they may have experience with business who have faced similar challenges or who have similar needs.

How St. Gregory Answers

When it comes to industry experience, St. Gregory has deep roots in:

  • Automotive
  • Finance
  • Consumer Services
  • Food Service and Entertainment
  • B2B

However, we also work in the legal, medical, trade show/event industries and many more.

Question 4: How do you make money?

What kind of fee structure does the marketing agency have? Is it a flat fee or a percentage of your budget? Does it vary based on service?

It should be a huge red flag if an agency won’t transparently talk about their fee structure. However, just because a marketing agency has a low fee or commission doesn’t mean they are the best fit for you. Something too cheap should also send up a red flag. For example, if all the other marketing agencies in Cincinnati are coming in between 15 and 20 percent but one agency is at 10 percent you need to ask more questions!

Be Goldilocks here—look for something that isn’t too high or too low but rather just right.

How St. Gregory Answers

St. Gregory is happy to discuss our fee structure with perspective clients. Compared to other marketing agencies in Cincinnati, we charge a reasonable percentage based on our services, certifications, and years of expertise.

With St. Gregory, there are no contracts and no hidden fees. When we provide a proposal, that is what you pay.

Question 5: Who will be working on my account on a regular basis?

Some marketing agencies in Cincinnati (and everywhere else) have high turnover. Your account representative one day may be gone the next. If you’re working with a large agency, you may deal with a salesperson and then get turned over to someone else (or multiple people) once you’re onboarded. And you may never get to speak to the individuals that are actually pushing the buttons, so to speak.

Know what you’re getting into. Ask about your point of contact, and meet them before signing on, if possible. And if you’re planning to be hands-on with your agency, which we recommend, ask about other specialists and if you’ll be able to speak with them when it comes time to review strategy and results.

How St. Gregory Answers

At St. Gregory, we know that landing the client is only the first step, and we do everything we can to provide a first-rate client experience. You’ll have a dedicated account executive that you can contact as needed. In addition our media, digital marketing, public relations, and creative specialists love talking about their craft, so if you want to meet them, they’d be delighted.

Question 6: What does your reporting look like?

So you’ve signed up with a marketing agency in Cincinnati, you’ve launched your first campaign, and … now what? How do you know if it was a success? What did you get for your advertising or marketing dollars?

Ask the marketing agencies you’re talking to about what you can expect in terms of a report up front. What will they be measuring? Can that data be validated?

Key point: Sometimes the data you’re given won’t match Google Analytics, which you should definitely be using, by the way. Here are some common reasons why those numbers might not sync up.

How St. Gregory Answers

At St. Gregory, you will get a report. We love data, and we’re proud of the advertising and marketing results we know we’re going to produce. What that report will look like will depend on the tactics used. A broadcast media report will look very different than a Google display ads report.

While we do have standard report templates that we use for various tactics, we’re happy to work with you to develop a custom report that provides the metrics you feel are most valuable. The goals of the campaign and the corresponding key performance indicator(s) (KPI) is something we always define with clients before a campaign launches.

These are just six of the questions you’ll want to ask when interviewing marketing agencies in Cincinnati (or anywhere else). Based on your specific goals and needs, there are more questions that you’ll want to get answers to. Take some time to brainstorm on those before your initial call with the agency.

And if you like how we answer these questions, we’d love to talk to you about taking your advertising and marketing to a whole new level.