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Unfortunately, a small percentage of digital marketing agencies are taking advantage of businesses that do not understand the digital marketing landscape and using smoke and mirrors to lock them into costly retainers without delivering results.

With an overabundance of new marketing strategies arising in the digital space constantly, it can become hectic for businesses to stay on top of their digital marketing. Partnering with a marketing agency is an ideal investment for many businesses to maintain a strong brand identity and expand their client base. How do you pick the right marketing agency and not get taken for a ride?

1. Educate Yourself

Prior to reaching out to a marketing agency, you need to need to educate yourself on the basics of digital marketing and what different content strategies are available. Investing a little time in getting a basic understanding of these areas and terminology will help you ask the right questions and understand what services you will get for your investment.

For example, if you are tasking the agency with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or PPC (Pay-Per-Click), a team member must understand the absolute basics of these services beforehand. In ensuring that someone in the business knows the service you are paying for, this will avoid overpaying or accepting subpar work. Medium to large organisations usually employ a consultant to help manage this process. At a minimum, get a few quotes to compare against each other. Compare agency quotes or get an external opinion from a marketing advisory to guarantee that you are paying reasonable prices for what you will receive in return.

2. Define your Needs and Goals

Have a discussion with all key decision-makers and figure out your needs, based on the age and size of your business. This extends beyond simply wanting to increase revenue. Do you need them to completely reinvent your brand? Drive more traffic to your socials? Allocate a digital marketing budget. You want more ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) than initial investment.

Have clear end goals that you would like to achieve in partnering with the marketing agency. This provides a framework when evaluating potential agencies but also makes it easier for these agencies to help you. You also need to generate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so that you can have a benchmark to determine whether partnering with the agency was a success and by how much.

You must have an idea of whether you want to hand over all or some of marketing efforts to the agency. Figure out how much time and effort you and your team can expel in partnering with an agency. Would your business be better suited to partner with a large agency that offers a broad range of services or a niche agency that is specialised in a specific subdiscipline of marketing? Would you prefer face-to-face meetings with a local agency or emails and conference calls with a non-local agency?

3. Online Research

Branch out beyond the first results on Google and collect a list of at least 3 agencies that fit your criteria. To broaden your choices, Think Creative recommends you prepare a detailed brief that outlines what your business is looking for in a marketing agency, to help keep focused.

Checking their online presence is key- if the agency cannot market themselves and create strong online presence, they cannot do it sufficiently for your business either. Go beyond their website and check the agency’s socials to garner a good understanding of audiences interact with the agency and also if they have the end-to-end capabilities to bring content creation and distribution together.

You want to be sure that they have:

  • A considerable portfolio/list of past clients (check for client reviews or testimonials)
  • An experienced and specialised team (check their LinkedIn!)
  • A well-designed website
  • Core capabilities which match what you are looking for
  • Full transparency

4. Cut through the Smoke and Mirrors

Investment is digital marketing activities do not instantly result in a huge amount of sales and no agency can guarantee actual sales or exact ROI. However, by the nature of digital marketing, you will see real time analytics and performance can be closely monitored and refined so it does deliver results. Yes, there will have ebbs and flows with the market, economy and external factors you cannot control however overall you will have an improvement in traffic, sales enquiries and (depending on lead times) eventual sales.

Do not be in a rush to choose an agency. Be sure to thoroughly discuss with the agency and get them to explain any confusing terminology so you are not just blindly nodding your head and signing thousands of dollars away to a service which you cannot explain yourself.

5. The Final Decision

Go with the agency which fits your needs, ambitions and passions – their work, experience and client service should have stood out to you the most. Price should also be considered but should not be the deciding factor. To evaluate their suitability in meetings, take note of who comes to the meeting (MD or Account Manager etc.), how familiar they are with your business, their attitude, personality (you do not want any character conflicts) and how they perceive their own capabilities. End of the day you are working with people and their personalities – how easy is it do business with this agency? No one has time for arrogance. This is a service orientated business.

The team at Think Creative Agency are experts in cutting through smoke and mirrors and providing transparent marketing services to businesses. We understand the importance of honest experts in one’s respective marketing specialisation. Take a look at our case studies and contact us at or call us on +964 750 500 3999 today.


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