In-housing might be a popular option in 2022, but agencies remain a top-rate choice for brands across the country. They bring remarkable levels of expertise to your marketing efforts, and whether they’re offering a full-service option or working on a specific brief, can revolutionise your results.
Unfortunately, like any service providers, the choice can be overwhelming. It’s estimated that more than 25,000 marketing companies operate in the UK alone, so identifying the partner that’ll work for you can be a challenge.
Agencies range from nimble two-person operations all the way up to global networks, behemoths who can seemingly do everything for everyone. Each has their pros and cons, however. Smaller agencies offer agile responses and hands-on support, but bigger agencies provide strength in numbers as well as all-round experience.
How, then, do you find the UK’s best marketing agencies, and pick the service partner who’ll meet your business’s requirements?
Count on recommendations
A direct reference from a brand is one of the best ways to find a marketing agency which will suit you perfectly.
Put a call out to your connections to see who they’d recommend as an agency partner. Not only will you find out which names are among the best, you might identify some potential issues among others that would make them less than idea. If someone’s pushing a particular agency’s services, ask to see the work they did and some of the results achieved to see if they match up with your requirements and aspirations too.
See the ratings
Take to the internet and find testimonials from real clients for the agencies you’ve shortlisted. Sometimes, the testimonials shared by an agency itself can be cherry-picked, so look across platforms like TrustPilot and Google Reviews to find out more about how an agency works, whether it provides value for money, and how their service is.
Remember, even these sometimes need scrutinising, so find verified reviews and take in the whole range of positive and negative feedback, to ensure you find out what all the positives and negatives of working with a particular agency is.
See their work in action
A case study is a much more useful tool than a simple review, so look back at work they’ve done previously. This could be with brands just like yours, but it could be across a wide range - but it’ll give you a great idea of how an agency’s approach to a project has an impact.
Case studies are available on agency websites, on directories like Brands & Agencies, and in industry news reports. Make sure you drill down into the real results to make sure you see what a marketing agency’s performance can provide for you.
Take a look at your own brand and needs
You might want to succeed, but there needs to be insightful conclusions about what your specific business goals are before you engaging an agency, as well as what your brand values are. An agency-client relationship is just that - a relationship - and you won’t be able to get the best results out of your collaboration if you’re unable to lay your requirements out on the table.
An agency can achieve great results when they’re on the same page as their client, as opposed to simply being tasked with doing something good. And a great agency won’t just ask what your goals are, but whether you’ve defined the principles behind your brand, and what they are. That way, when they get to work on its promotion, they’ll be able to make the biggest impact in your favour.
Understand your target market
Your target market will look a certain way, and it’s your responsibility to know how they look. Bring data to put in front of your prospective agency partner, or run the risk of an ill-advised scattergun approach.
The best marketing agencies can take your suggestion of an ideal target market and turn it into great results around awareness, uptake and spend - but will have far more trouble if they’re asked to simply take a brand, product or service and promote it to everyone. Your collaboration needs to be two-way, or your results are likely to miss the mark.
Beware bold promises
As many an agency owner will testify, it’s easy to lose out on a brief to someone guaranteeing mind-blowing returns. But this is simply impossible. You can count on the best agencies to be realistic with you from the moment you meet, showing you what they’re capable of without pledging to triple your revenue, funnel thousands to your website, or make you a market leader.
Honesty is the best policy here. Ambitious promises are designed to dazzle prospects and normally reflect some indiscretion around how results are achieved. Any short-term success won’t be likely to continue with consistency, and vanity metrics can’t necessarily be matched by returns. In the worst-case scenario, you could lose out in the long-run!
Finding the best marketing agency to suit your business’s unique requirements involves input on your part as much as performance on theirs. Make sure you do as much research as possible using directories, case studies and more - and ensure you present any potential agency partners with specifics, data and concrete goals.
Top UK agencies can be found across the country, and range from the ultra-specialist to full-service partners. Register for an account on the Brands & Agencies directory to research and find your next marketing agency partner.