This is a guest post by Ruben of Bidsketch, proposal software that helps creative professionals get more clients and grow their business.

Full service marketing firms can handle everything from hiring actors, writing scripts and shooting videos to designing a website. They also tend to be ridiculously expensive. Several times in my career I’ve had the pleasure of being tasked with hiring a full service marketing firm. It’s not like you might think; you’re not left having to fend off calls from sales people that know little about the business they’re selling.

You see, when you’re looking for one of these places, you’re talking to people that know the work. Phone conversations with them feel a lot less like buying a new car, and more like a brainstorming session.

The Search

A few weeks ago I was asked to find one of these firms for a corporate website redesign project. This project was a bit different than the others I’ve outsourced so I decided to go with someone entirely new. I received referrals from a couple of friends and did some searching on Google to end up with a list of five marketing firms.

That may not seem like a lot but I can tell you it was amazingly tough finding that many companies. Most were either lacking on the design side or the marketing side. It’s truly difficult to find a company that is strong on marketing, video production, web design, usability and SEO.

The Top Three

Once we had our firms, we sent out the RFPs with a deadline of two weeks. Three out of the five contacted us back so narrowing down the list was a no-brainer.

So we scheduled phone calls with our top three companies to go over the project. One of them really blew us away to the point of us saying “I really hope we can afford them.”

How Did They Do That?

First, he asked the right questions. When you’re talking to a company like this, there are certain questions you know you’re going to get.

  • What’s your budget for the project?
  • Do you have a required completion date?
  • How many pages/sections?
  • Why are you looking to redesign your website?

And several more covering project requirements so they can give an accurate estimate. That’s the boring part of these interviews, answering the same questions over and over.

What they did an exceptional job with, was asking questions that no one else asked. Questions that told us that these people knew their stuff. These are the type of people we want working on our project.

Some of the questions:

  • What does your sales engine think about your marketing site? How can it help them close sales?
  • What’s your positioning strategy?
  • In your calls to action, what are the different types of users that you want to focus on?
  • What calls to action do you currently have on your site? How do they differ by page type?

And so on. See what’s happening here? They’re letting us know that it’s important for them to find out how our company works. To design an effective website they need this information.

I’ll admit, they tripped me up with a couple of these questions. I just didn’t know the answer. It was a little embarrassing but marketing isn’t my field so it can be excused.

Did it bother me? Of course not, I’m hiring them for their expertise after all. I want them to dig into all the important stuff that I’ve not thought about yet.

What’s the Lesson Here?

How do some of your previous conversations with prospective clients compare? If you were competing for a project with a company like this, how would you do?

Post initially published on the Bidketch blog. Photo credit - Lakeshore Entertainment