It’s no secret. Many marketing agencies are popping up left and right, and many of them are going niche. They almost have to. It’s pretty hard these days to launch an agency that doesn’t. With so much competition, it’s a much more effective path to success. Can’t argue with that. And for those who have done so successfully, it’s tough to compete with being an agency that hasn’t. At least on the surface.

Many of my colleagues and trusted advisors all say the “riches are in the niches”, and while I can see the value in servicing the same type of clients in terms of operational efficiencies and less challenging sales cycles, I don’t know that I’m entirely convinced it’s the way to go. At least for us. I think there is a counter-argument that can be made.

At Socialistics, we now have the luxury to be more selective about the clients we take on, and a big part of that is clients that are interesting. Clients that have a story. Clients that have products or services that have the ability to “fly off the shelf”. Clients that we feel PASSIONATE about. And to me, that trumps industry experience. If you have an experienced agency with a good track record, that experience combined with authentic passion is a powerful combo and they will be able to deliver just as effectively as an agency that specializes in your particular industry.

Effective marketing strategies don’t vary that dramatically between different types of industries. Certainly not so much that an agency that does not specialize would be at any sort of disadvantage. Sure, having a wealth of industry knowledge is a good head start, but any smart and passionate team can dig their heels in and get there relatively quickly. Besides, an agency relationship should be looked at as a long term play, and there are more important questions you should be prioritizing in your decision making.

So what are some of the right questions?

What do your clients say about you?

There is no better barometer of an agency’s ability to deliver for you than what their current or previous clients have to say about them. 90% of the new opportunities that come our way don’t even ask for this. If an agency isn’t proactively providing you verified testimonials, that should be a red flag.

Do you require a long term contract to work with you?

Who does a long term contract benefit when working with an agency? Not you. I believe that if you deliver results, treat clients well, be responsive, accessible, and overall be a great partner, you don’t need a long term contract. What company would want to walk away from that? Not many. And the ones that do, do so sometimes for reasons out of their control. Or they weren’t a fit for us to begin with. Either way, we believe that companies should have flexibility when it comes to their expenses. Long term contracts can create an environment of complacency. Month to month practically guaranteed an agency is going to fight for your business every month.

Can I see examples of your work and results?

Most people can tell the difference between work that is sophisticated, polished, and has a high bar vs. your run of the mill, paint by numbers work. You should be asking to see the work, and case studies that break down the work. And not just window dressing case studies…real breakdowns of the work that go into the details, the narrative of what was done, how, and the results that netted from it.

If you lead with these 3 questions, you’re going to get a lot more actionable information that is going to help you make a good decision on who to partner with for your marketing needs.

Need more convincing? Check out my corresponding video on the subject below!