Small Business Marketing Guide

13. Agency Selection: How to Pick the Right One for Your Small Business

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Small Business Marketing

Agency Selection: How to Pick the Right One for Your Small Business

Jul 10, 2023 • 6 min read
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      No matter what genre your small business falls under, marketing is essential. Marketing efforts help attract and warm leads that can turn into paying customers or clients. 

      Since 47% of small businesses emphasize marketing as their top growth strategy, there are plenty of opportunities to partner with a marketing or advertising agency to help you meet your goals. 

      When it comes to agency selection, choosing the right marketing agency can save you time and be well worth the investment once you start to see results. Here are 6 steps to help you choose the right agency for your business.

      1. Understand the role of a marketing agency.

      First, it’s important to understand the role of a marketing agency so you can know how to utilize one in your business. Marketing agencies provide a variety of services to help businesses reach, nurture, and convert customers. 

      These services include things like website design, search engine optimization, content marketing, and digital and print advertising. Agencies also help develop marketing strategies or execute or manage specific campaigns. 

      2. Get clear on your goals.

      Next, get clear on your goals by determining what you want to accomplish as a result of working with an agency. Setting realistic goals and expectations is essential during the agency selection process to ensure a good fit and avoid wasting time or money. 

      Consider whether you’re looking for someone to help with web design or copywriting. Are you looking to take a more traditional marketing route, utilize digital marketing, or try a combination of both? Do you need help telling the story of your business or building a loyal social media following?

      Once you have your goals set, start prioritizing these goals to narrow your focus on which marketing services you’d be interested in to start the process. 

      3. Ask around and network.

      Ask colleagues and others in your network for recommendations on a marketing agency to build a pool of options. Word-of-mouth referrals are still extremely valuable, so this is a great place to start. However, you can also gather information about local agencies, as well as virtual ones, that seem to specialize in what you’re looking for. 

      Most reputable agencies will have a website and portfolio showcasing their work, so you can get a feel for their capabilities. You can also check reviews on their website and credible review sites to see what past clients have to say. 

      This is where setting goals in advance can come in handy, because it helps to know whether you’re looking for a full-service agency or a company that specializes in one or two key areas. 

      4. Consider your budget.

      It’s best to consider your budget before moving forward in the agency selection process, since you don’t want to find your dream agency then realize you can’t afford the services. 

      A good place to start is to allocate 10% to 30% of your profit on marketing. Realize that you may want to DIY some of your marketing, if you feel comfortable doing so. Setting up a social media page, writing a mission statement for your business, and finding a good deal on website hosting on your own could help you lower your out-of-pocket costs when hiring an agency.

      This is especially true if you are mainly looking to hire someone for their expert strategy and industry knowledge. Another option is to consider working with a smaller agency or freelancer who still has a proven track record. Just be sure to set realistic expectations and accept the tradeoff of working with a smaller or lesser-known marketing agency. 

      5. Book a consultation and ask questions.

      The next step in your agency selection process is to book a consultation with a few of your top choices. Preferably, the marketing agency would offer a free initial consultation to learn more about your business and your goals. This can be a short but effective meeting to determine if you’d both be a good fit for each other. 

      It also provides the opportunity to learn more about the services the agency provides and how their process works. Ask questions that will help you compare the agency to competitors and get a better understanding of the overall value the company can offer you. This includes questions such as:

      • Who makes up the team? Do you work with any third-party partners or resources?
      • What type of technology is used and how does communication work with clients?
      • How do they measure success or results? Will you receive regular reporting so you know what the strategy is and how things are progressing?
      • What is the timeline for specific services and what type of results (if any) are guaranteed?

      You can also ask for case studies and client testimonials, if they have this readily available. 

      6. Review the proposal and negotiate.

      Pending your consultation with the marketing agency, you should be provided with rates or a proposal showing a fee or retainer and what this includes. From there, you can decide to negotiate fairly or explore the option of moving forward. 


      Agency selection isn’t always the simplest process, but choosing the right agency can do wonders for your small business. Not every business owner wants to focus on marketing, even though this is one of the biggest drivers in terms of revenue and overall success. 

      Choosing a strategic and results-driven marketing agency can be an excellent investment—but only if you’ve done your due diligence. Be sure to thoroughly research and vet your options. Assess your goals and budget, then ask specific questions to help set expectations and ensure a positive experience. 

      About the author
      Choncé Maddox

      Choncé is a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys writing about credit, business loans, debt management, and helping people achieve financial wellness. Having a background in journalism, she decided to dive deep into the world of content writing in 2013 after noticing many publications transitioning to digital formats. Considering herself a long-time personal finance enthusiast, Chonce’s work has been featured on sites like Business Insider, Lending Tree, Fox Business, RateGenius, and more.

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