What Startups Should Know When Looking for an Agency Partner

A study by StartupBlink reviewing and ranking 954 cities in 125 countries listed Cincinnati among the top 50 U.S. cities for startups and ranked them among the top 100 cities worldwide. The criteria include quantity of startups, strength of ideas, business environment and the strength of a city’s startup ecosystem.

For many startups, choosing a location is just one of the many difficult decisions on the road to becoming an established company. We are often approached by startups asking for marketing support and trying to understand when it makes sense to invest in an agency partner.

Here are tips about when to look for an agency partner and what to do when you find them.

Know when to say when. Do you need someone to handle design or development needs, write a press release, handle your graphic design, provide insight on key analytics or all the above? Many startups can identify resources—friends, professionals, board members, existing staff—who can handle many of these projects in a one-off fashion. When a startup has reached some sort of milestone that requires these marketing activities to happen in concert, it’s probably time to call an agency. Odds are you’re not going to find one person who can do all of that, but what you can find is an agency partner with the resources to fill your needs.

You’re going to grow, your goals should too. While cracking the pages of Forbes or The New York Times is an incredible achievement for any startup, it should not be a day-one goal. What is considered a huge victory in your first month could and should look very different after your first year. Your agency partner must be able to help you set and establish realistic goals today, and as you grow.

Embrace change—there’ll be a lot of it. Startups need to shift strategies and evolve while finding their groove. It’s important to find an agency that is willing to regularly review messaging and strategy to make sure everyone is aligned. Establishing a Success Plan is a way to make sure you, your team, investors, boards and other constituents are aligned on the marketing strategy and expected outcomes.

Find a well-rounded agency jack of all trades. If you work for a startup, you must wear multiple hats and step in where you’re needed. Find an agency that is willing to do the same for you. Primary marketing needs like SEO strategy, public relations, brand management and others change much more with a startup than an established company. Nimbleness matters.

Phone a friend. As a startup, you will not have all the answers, so you should feel like you are working with a trusted advisor more than an agency. Mower’s Brand as Friend® philosophy nurtures closer, more meaningful relationships between brands and customers, prospects, employees, influencers, stakeholders and channel partners through three key tenets—affection, relevance and trust. These close bonds are often the difference in customer loyalty.