How to Hire an Agency - Insights from Sortlist
Sortlist Insights

How to Hire an Agency – Insights from Sortlist


Looking for the right marketing agency but are there too many fish in the sea to choose from? Google is filled with endless opportunities but it requires effort and patience to find the right match for your project. This makes it extremely difficult to figure out what agency is the best one for your needs.

If you’re lucky, you have found an agency that someone recommended. If not, we’re here for you! In any of the cases, it is always best to carefully consider the different requirements that make an agency the best fit for you and your project. 

This Sortlist article will help, by showing you the 6 things you need to think about when picking your first marketing agency. Let’s jump right in!

What do you need? Specialised or Full-Stack Agency?

One of the most important questions is: what exactly do you need help with? 

You might need to hire an agency that will take over your entire marketing department or just someone that helps you with a particular part. If you are only looking for an agency helping you with branding, marketing automation, or social media, it could be best to look out for a specialized team. If you have multiple projects to tackle, a full-stack agency might be the solution. As the company-agency-relationship can be a long-term commitment, it is important to choose a partner with the right expertise for you. This leads us to our next point.

Look at the agency’s Expertise and References

How good is the agency you found in their field? Do they have references that show how they delivered a strong performance?

You can figure this out through a portfolio or testimonials that might be on their website or on a platform like Sortlist. Maybe they also have projects listed that are comparable to yours or even in the same industry. In the best case, you know another company that has already worked with this agency before and can give you some insights. Finally, how is the agency going to track their performance? Do they have a proven method to track the success of their collaborations? You should already consider this aspect before the start of your project.

Make a decision based on Facts

When finding the right agency, there are a few hard facts you need to consider. These are mostly based on time and money.

Before you get started with the project, make clear agreements for deadlines , and see if they are able to spontaneously adapt to changing conditions. Can they take on more work throughout the project if needed? How much time will they actually spend on your project and how much will that cost? 

The agency may have a deposit that you pay for their ongoing services. Additionally, you need to negotiate the agency’s fee per hour or per project. An hourly rate may be better to track how much time they spent on what, but it might also be good to pay the agency per project.

Communication is Key

What influences your relationship with the agency a lot is your communication towards them. Even before your first meeting, you can do some online research: are they communicating clear times, goals, and a clear strategy? Are they transparent about budget expectations and deadlines?

If you have a productive level of communication with your agency, problems might arise sooner than later, and can be tackled more efficiently. If you work with a larger agency, you might have an account manager that you can always address. However, a small agency might also be good for you as you may be higher on their priority list. This could especially be beneficial if your direct point of contact is the agency’s owner making sure that your project will be a success.

Match the Agency with your Project

Your agency can be good, but do they care about your project?

In a first meeting or phone call, you can figure out if the agency understands what you are doing. Let’s take the example of a branding agency: If they match with the identity of your brand and project, they are probably better able to translate your values, vision, and mission into the new branding. This is extremely important as a divergent new brand strategy could confuse or offend your customers or they might not even recognize the identity of your company anymore. Also, internal stakeholders could be set off by a new branding that is not aligned with the company values. In the best case, the agency is also part of your industry, and specialised in working for companies in your sector. This way, they may know more about your customer than you do or are even part of your target group.

Excellent Partnerships make excellent Projects

Lastly, the agency you choose not only needs to fit with your project or company – it needs to fit with you.

Use a first meeting to figure out if you actually like to work with these people and are ready to commit to a business relationship with them. Do they fit your team and are your team members happy to have meetings and discuss new ideas openly with them? A strong cultural fit can make up for a lack in other fields if problems are tackled together. Ask your team what they think. After all, they are the ones mostly affected by your choice.


There are way too many things you can take into account when you pick your first marketing agency. The internet offers an abundance of information on agencies, and your industry colleagues will all probably have a different opinion on what you should or shouldn’t do. That is why you have to carefully look into your potential partner, and figure out what factors are most important to you. The price of the agency? The performance and the outcome of the project? Or do you want a long-term partner that fits well with your culture?

In the end, you need to decide on what is best for your project and especially the team behind it as they will know what leads to the best outcome for your brand.

If you are still looking for a new marketing agency, look no further. You can now find the best agency for your needs on Sortlist. No matter if it’s closer than your supermarket or in another country.


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