Some basic Q&A will go a long way…

Every tax return is the same – except when they are not.
Every crown preparation is the same – except when they are not.
Every H&P is the same – except when they are not.

While there is no tried-and-true recipe for guaranteed success selecting a marketing company, the following pointers are a great place to start. You can ask these questions directly or use them as a jumping-off point for more brainstorming.

1. Does the firm have a reputation of being responsive and customer-service oriented? Do you know anyone who has worked with the firm before?

2. Is the person on the phone the person you will be working with most of the time? Or do you meet your project manager only after you have given a deposit? Is your main contact at the firm someone who you are comfortable talking to? Do your personalities match? Can you understand each other clearly?

3. How will you be able to contact the company or your point-person? Are they available over the weekend or at nights to communicate with you?

4. Are you required to use the company for all of your marketing-related services? Will they be willing to cooperate with another firm? Is their system proprietary or open? Can you take a backup of your website and/or other data at any time? Are you “allowed” to have one company build your site, and another company provide SEO or AdWords/PPC services?

5. What are the provisions for terminating your marketing agreement if you elected to do so? Are you locked-in for a long-term contract? Have you looked at reviews/comments from people who have terminated their relationships with the firm? Are there any red flags in the comments? (No company can retain 100% of their clients 100% of the time – but how a company handles clients that leave is a very good indicator of how they run their business). Ask them about the last time a client left, what the general circumstances were, and how they handled it.