Who is your target audience? Where they are geographically? Where and how do they access information? And, what do you hope to achieve?

With the sheer amount of choice on offer, it can be astoundingly difficult to identify the right candidate(s) when you’re on the lookout for external help with marketing function of your business.

Sure, plenty of people will tell you how awesome they are, but who can you believe?

In short, a partner with a long history of proven success over multiple businesses and across many industries, is the best option.

Reputation, experience and portfolio are all important things to consider in the selection equation.

Business coach Diane Helbig believes it’s important to ask yourself some foundational questions to get a handle on what you’re looking for.

According to Halbig, these questions should include: Who is your target audience? Where they are geographically? Where and how do they access information? And, what do you hope to achieve?

Helbig recommends finding three to five companies that look like they fit your needs as a starting point.

“Develop a (further) list of questions you can ask (them) to decide whether they really are the right match for you. Those questions include asking for samples of their work, asking for links to sites they’ve created if you are looking for web design, and asking how they manage their clients,” she said.

In order to avoid disappointments with the outcome, Tim Asimos believes it’s important to identify your primary marketing need and make sure you select an agency that can truly boast expertise in that area.

“In other words, what you need the most should be one of the things they do the most,” he said.

“Industry expertise (also) matters a lot, especially in business-to-business marketing and in highly technical and complex industries.”

Helbig asserts that finding the right marketing help is something that takes time, energy, and research.

“Anyone can tell a good story and do a good sales job. What you want to know is how well can they deliver on what you need,” she said.

“Marketing firms need to stay ahead of the curve, adapt to the new environment, and share their level of expertise honestly with their prospects. You, as the prospect, need to be able to discern who is doing that, and who isn’t.”

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