Thrive Analytics released their “2015 Local Pulse Survey Highlights (Part 1)“, which shows that small and medium sized businesses (SMB) want to build more robust digital marketing programs but lack the expertise to do so. We here at The Intelligence Group work with local businesses every day. Business owners partner with us to promote their brand and tell their story, so it’s interesting to find this survey.

Key highlights from the survey

  • 35% of businesses believe economic conditions will improve in 2015
  • 51% of businesses expect sales to improve by end of year.
  • 35% of businesses plan on raising their marketing budgets for 2015.
  • Budgets are increasing for digital marketing, specifically websites, social media, online ads and mobile.
  • More dollars are being allocated to multiple forms of media than ever before.
  • Younger businesses tend to use more digital media to generate sales while established companies have a more diversified approach.
  • SMBs say they want help with websites, search, social media and mobile marketing but give current providers low satisfaction scores.

The survey also shows that small businesses are searching for a trusted partner to help them accomplish their marketing goals. In fact, many are not satisfied with their current marketing partner. Let’s examine a few tips that SMBs can utilize to find a trusted partner.

How to find a trusted partner?

Finding a trusted partner is a major priority for SMBs when they think about how and where to spend their marketing dollors.

Here are a couple things to look for when evaluating marketing agencies:

Do they take the time to really get to know you and your industry?

A marketing agency should spend time to interview you to learn about your brand, story and goals before providing you with a marketing plan. They should know you really well in order to build on your ideas and point you in the right direction with a sound strategy.

If you get a proposal with a promise to brainstorm for ideas after you’ve signed a contract, it’s not a good sign.

Do they stay up to date with industry news?

Successful small business owners know their industry inside and out and are always keeping up with the latest news and trends. Likewise, a marketing agency should be an expert in its field.

If you know more than the marketing agency about the available technology to help with managing social media , it’s not a good sign. You should be learning from them during your conversations, not the other way around.

Are they focused on your success or your wallet?

One way to know whether the marketing agency you’re evaluating has your best interest is if they can say no to you, even if it means a smaller contract amount–and especially if it’s a deal breaker.

For example, when an agency is quick to drop the urgently needed website redesign from the proposal just to lower the price in hope of closing the deal, it’s not a good sign.

A reputable agency only wants the best for its clients and would not compromise its integrity. The agency would instead educate the prospective client on the importance of an error-free, lead-capturing optimized website.

What are some of your thoughts on hiring a trusted agency? Agencies, how do you establish and maintain trust with your current and prospective clients?