How to Find the Perfect Paid Media Marketing Partner  

Erin Strong | November 3, 2023

When you’re looking for new customers, marketing is an obvious solution to build brand awareness and drive leads to your business.

However, knowing who to trust with your marketing is a bit like knowing which mechanic to trust — you’re often stuck trusting reviews, seeking word-of-mouth recommendations, or picking at random from Google listings.

To make matters worse, it’s often impossible to know in advance if the recommended campaigns will have up-to-par performance. While this can be an overwhelming experience, it can also help you to empathize with how your customers feel when they’re trying to choose between you and a competitor.

The next time you’re seeking paid media campaign support, here are three questions to ask to help you find a qualified marketing partner that will drive results for your brand.

Three questions to ask when looking for a paid media partner

1. How many years have you been running paid media campaigns?

It’s a bit cliché (and not totally indicative of knowledge), but years of experience in the industry can help ascertain a marketing partner’s grasp of long-term impacts to marketing cycles, such as a recession or presidential election. Look for marketers with at least four years of experience or companies with at least a decade of experience building campaigns for clients.

2. What certifications or credentials do you have?

Another cliché, as credentials like a bachelor’s degree might not be relevant in 2023. However, certifications on Google, Meta, demand-side platforms (DSPs), and social media platforms can be vital for proving the capability to set up ads, understand platform nuances, and efficiently run your paid media.

Look for companies that have a subject matter expert for each platform. This is one area where a sole proprietor marketer can’t compete because no one person can be a deep expert on every single platform. You need a team behind your marketing to get it right across every platform.

3. Can you send me case studies?

Any marketer or company worth talking to will have a portfolio of case studies and references you can review. Check the reports for realistic growth and the references for tales of accountability and partnership.

Do not implicitly trust any case study that isn’t paired with native-dashboard analytics or a client reference vouching for the accuracy of the findings. They might be true, but they could just be fluff typed into a pretty template…

This one is tricky, because all experienced marketers have a bevy of case studies we can’t dive into because of NDAs and busy clients. However, fear the marketer who can’t give you a few verifiable case studies.

Three questions to ask after finding a paid media partner

Once you’ve selected a qualified marketing partner, there are also three questions you should ask to establish the best possible campaign performance (and to set accurate expectations):

1. Which KPIs will be tracked for each tactic (and at what interval)?

Understand — in advance — what the key performance indicators (KPIs) are for each tactic in your campaign. Failing to do this is like going on a vacation without a destination; how will you know if you’ve arrived?

2. What is the expected performance for each tactic?

If your performance isn’t planned, then how will you know if the outcomes are good, average, or terrible? Establish the benchmark of what to expect, then check it monthly and at campaign-end. This should ideally be shown against benchmarks for the industry, and for all clients on the platform (or with the agency).

While trust is a virtue in most relationships, it is highly recommended to check in with outside resources (whether it’s a relative in marketing or Google) to ensure the benchmarks and performance you’re receiving are in line with industry standards. Keep in mind if you’re Googling, though, that local marketing does not behave like national marketing, just like the insurance industry doesn’t behave like the beverage alcohol industry. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

3. What’s your cut?

Marketers and advertising companies have a million ways of embedding their margin into the media, and you need to understand what that looks like. Are they charging commission, a retainer, and fees? Is it all built into one high commission? Does their commission percentage and/or hourly price depend upon your committed dollars? This is a complicated topic that could easily be its own white paper.

Essentially, you must know the working media budget as a percentage of media packages. Because the total package cost (including fees and commission) is typically calculated into the performance — it can wildly skew the reported performance. Always check that a minimum of 75% of the total budget is going directly to pay for media (aka your “working media budget”) to ensure your performance is adequate.

For example, a $3,000 package offered by two different advertising companies could have totally different outcomes for numerous reasons, such as:

  • One charges more in commission and fees, resulting in less money going to the working media budget, which will produce fewer results.
  • One has a more experienced team that sets up the ads more thoughtfully, resulting in less wasted media spending, so that the audience is higher-value and converts more.
  • One team is better staffed, resulting in more thoughtful optimization and management, ensuring dollars are spent efficiently on the highest-opportunity audience, resulting in higher value conversions.

So, the next time a marketer offers to do a $200 campaign for you, keep in mind that their total cut, including commission, fees, and hours, should be less than $50 to maintain that 75%-or-higher working media budget.

What kind of marketer could afford to plan, place, optimize, pay associated fees for, and report on a campaign for only $50?

Let’s just say you get what you pay for.

Looking for a paid media marketing partner that just makes sense? 

With paid media marketing tactics proven to drive outsized results in local markets, BrandMuscle is your tried-and-true local marketing partner. Contact us to learn more about our best-in-class services and solutions. 

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