What You Should Look for in Great Chicago Marketing Firms

When you hire a new employee for your company, do you take his resume at face value and make a decision solely based on that piece of paper?

Of course not.

You screen his resume and evaluate him over several interviews. You might even give him a test to complete.

Choosing a marketing agency should be no different. Just as with hiring a new employee, there’s tons of information to sort through when you hire an agency.

Selecting an agency out of the many Chicago marketing firms is no easy feat. Each firm brings its unique personality and takes on marketing best-practices to the table.

To help you select the best partner for your business, we’ve compiled a list of characteristics you should evaluate in a Chicago marketing firm before hiring them.

An Awesome Website

Think of a marketing agency’s website as their resume. This should be the first thing you evaluate about a marketing firm.

The website should have an easy-to-navigate website that enables you to find all the relevant information you need. You should be able to identify quickly the services the agency provides.

You should also evaluate the basics of the website:

  • Does it have an up-to-date design?
  • Does the page load quickly (you can check here)?
  • Do you feel informed after reading the website’s content?

Consider it this way, if a marketing firm, particularly one that specializes in digital marketing, doesn’t have a good online presence, do you really want them running your digital presence?

A marketing agency’s poorly designed website might not be indicative of their skills, but it certainly doesn’t make a good first impression.

Great Social Media Presence

While you evaluate Chicago marketing firms’ websites, also evaluate their social media efforts.

Social media provides an outlet for businesses to present their product or service with a bit more of a hair down approach. This often can mean you’ll get a better sense of how a marketing firm handles inquiries on platforms other than email and how they interact with others.

Evaluating a marketing firm’s social media follows the same line of thinking as looking at their website: can the firm walk the walk?

If you’re evaluating a marketing firm for their social media management services and their social media profiles aren’t great, they’re not worth moving to your in-person interview stage. If they can’t manage social media well for their own firm, they likely can’t manage your social media well.

Detailed Explanation of Services

You’re likely on this journey of evaluating Chicago marketing firms because you need help with marketing and don’t want to hire internally.

As you learn about a marketing firm through its website and sales representatives, you should have a thorough understanding of the services they offer, how they measure success, and the value they provide to your company.

Of course, not every client needs every digital marketing service.

If you need help in several digital marketing areas like social media, email campaigns, and influencer marketing, consider going with a larger firm that has all those capabilities.

For those of you who only need help in one targeted area like SEO, going with a firm that specializes in that skill will return the best results.

At the end of the day, you want to clearly understand which services a marketing firm can offer you and at what price.

Examples of Past Work

Every business needs proof to back up their claims. Some agencies provide briefs of past work they’ve done like website makeovers, SEO enhancement and returns, and social media engagement.

Others offer case studies, either downloadable or by request. Case studies are a handy tool Chicago marketing firms use to showcase the work they did for clients and visualize their ROI to new clients.

Either way, you want to get a sense if a firm has a track record of success or not. Examine marketing firms’ past work to get a sense of their success rate and how they’ve helped businesses similar to yours.


Asking for recommendations is a crucial step in finding a great marketing firm.

You can conduct your own recommendations search to start. There are some websites like clutch.co which provide customer ratings, firm size, specialty, and hourly rate for marketing and IT businesses.

If you’re seriously considering hiring a marketing agency, ask them for references. Marketing reps should be happy to put you in touch with current or past clients over email, or at least be able to provide a list of glowing reviews from clients.

Be wary if a firm cannot offer these recommendations. It could mean they don’t do quality work or they might not have the experience to handle what you’re looking for.

How Do They Communicate?

Transparent communication is a huge consideration factor when hiring an agency. You need to know what’s going on with your digital marketing at all times and don’t want to work with a firm that will shield problems from you.

Some questions you should ask the firm’s rep to determine how transparently they’ll communicate are:

  • What goals will be set and how will they be evaluated?
  • What will the deliverables schedule look like and will I be involved in setting them?
  • How often will I get updates on my marketing initiatives?
  • How is project management handled internally?

Pay attention to how the rep answers your questions. If the answers are vague, chances are he’s trying to shield how they work from you.

Also, ask if you can speak to the team members you’ll be working with directly, if you hire the firm. Being on the same page as these individuals will lead to smooth sailing in your relationship with your marketing firm.

Look for firms that are transparent from the get-go. They’ll be the easiest to work with in the long run.

Do Your Companies Click?

Overall, you want your companies to synergize. If your company culture is to have fun and be ridiculous, you won’t find much to bond over with a straight-laced marketing firm.

Through evaluating the marketing firm’s web presence and talking to individuals at the firm, you should get a clear sense if your chemistries match or not.

Finding the marketing partner you click with will lead to a strong sense of trust down the road.

Chicago Marketing Firms: Find The One

Finding the best firm among the Chicago marketing firms does take some time, but your due diligence will pay off in the end.

Putting in the legwork to research online initially saves you from wasting time interviewing firms that aren’t right for your company’s needs.

And once you find a firm you click with and trust, you’ll notice you’re saving tons of time because the marketing firm can anticipate your company’s needs.

For more posts about digital, social, and influencer marketing, check out our blog.

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