What Do Marketing Firms Do?

When to hire a marketing firm and how to choose the right one

Marketing Firm
••• Getty Images / Gregory Kramer

A marketing firm is any company that assists a business with creating, implementing, and sustaining marketing strategies. These specialized firms are outside contractors that businesses of any size and in any industry can hire to improve their marketing efforts.

If your business needs help creating an effective marketing plan, you may benefit from working with a marketing firm.

What Does a Marketing Firm Do?

Marketing firms help their clients create and implement successful marketing strategies. This often begins with marketing research to understand what is and is not working in the current marketing plan, followed by demographic research to create a complete ideal customer profile.

Once it has a clear picture of who you are marketing to and what you have already attempted to do to reach them, a marketing firm helps you develop an overall marketing strategy, create and implement a plan for specific marketing campaigns, and analyze the success of those campaigns.

You can also hire marketing companies to provide specific services, such as telemarketing or market research. You can retain their services for a specific project or hire them on a retainer basis to assist you over a period of time. You can also hire individual consultants or freelancers with specialist marketing skills to plan and manage projects.

The goal of working with a marketing firm is to convert your target audience into customers, retain your current customer base, improve sales and revenue, and grow your business and brand.

Different Types of Marketing Firms

There are multiple types of marketing firms, and each kind specializes in different marketing strategies, customer demographics, industries, and business sizes.

  • Marketing consultancy: Marketing consultancies audit your marketing plan and offering suggestions. Consulting agencies are usually not directly involved in the implementation of a marketing plan. Instead, they do a deep analysis of the plan and present new strategies you can implement, such as launching a new product or capturing a new potential market.
  • Direct marketing: Direct marketing companies help you plan and manage direct mail campaigns. They often provide you with mailing lists that match your target market, as well as designing and writing direct mail items. Direct marketing companies also handle mailing out items on your behalf and measuring consumer response to the campaign.
  • Telemarketing: Telemarketing companies provide telephone-based marketing services by acting as a call center for your business. Many of these firms are switching from land-line calls to smartphone calls or text pitches.
  • Digital marketing: Digital marketing companies help you make use of the internet, email or social media in your marketing mix. These firms will advise you on ways to use social media, improve the search engine optimization of your website, launch e-commerce services, and implement email marketing strategies to communicate more effectively with customers and leads.
  • Marketing communications: Marketing communications experts assist with communications materials such as brochures, product guides, newsletters, and customer magazines. They provide writing, design, and production services, as well as a strategy for how best to reach your target audience for upcoming events or new product launches.

Seven Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Marketing Firm

Choosing the correct marketing firm depends on several factors, including your industry, target audience, size, goals, and budget.

If you're hiring a marketing firm for the first time, learn about who you will be working with and what to expect before making a decision by asking strategic questions.

  1. What types of businesses or industries have you worked with before? You want to work with a business that understands you industry and already has insight into what works to reach customers in that space. You also want to check that they have worked with businesses of your size before. Marketing a large corporation is very different from marketing a small business, and those differences will be reflected in both strategies and budget.
  2. Do you specialize in reaching a specific audience? Understanding your target market is key to creating successful promotions. If a marketing firm is unfamiliar with the behavior and values of your audience, they are less likely to use marketing strategies that will be successful at reaching and persuading the consumers you want to convert into customers.
  3. What specific planning will we need to complete on our end before you can begin your work? The firm you hire may need you to provide a variety of concrete information, such as inventory analysis or certain market research, before they can begin their work.
  4. How are client collaboration and communication handled? Whenever you work with an outside firm or consultant, you need someone you can reach easily and who communicates clearly. Make sure you know who your day-to-day point person is, as well as who is in charge of your account or where to take big-picture concerns.
  5. What key performance indicators do you focus on when it comes to client work? If you are spending the time and money to work with an outside firm, you want to see results. Establish from the beginning how those results will be measured and analyzed, as well as what outcomes you can expect.
  6. What are your reporting practices? Set clear expectations for how often you will receive reports and what information they will contain. In some cases, reporting will depend on the type of company you are working with. If you hire a marketing consultancy to analyze your marketing plan, they will report back to you at the end of their effort. But if you hiring a firm to do a digital campaign, the company should report regularly and frequently.
  7. If you could map out the first three months of working with your firm, what would that look like? Before you agree to work with a marketing firm, you need a picture of what to expect and how the firm intends to begin their work. You want to find a firm that already has an idea of where to begin that fits with your overall business model and expectations.

Marketing is critical to business growth and success. If you are struggling to create a successful marketing mix, consider hiring a marketing firm. Whether you choose a big firm with a staff of 500 or a boutique business with a staff of five, if they can show you how to successfully reach consumers and converts them into customers, the investment will be a smart business decision.