What you don’t know about the food marketing agency you’re about to hire could hurt you. Yes, that’s dramatic, but you are entering into a relationship, and it’s important you understand not just what the agency does, but how their marketing approach will benefit your business and make your life easier.

As you interview potential food marketing agencies, ask the following questions and expect straightforward answers.

Is There a Price Minimum?

Some marketing pros are real cheap — there are places you can go to get blog posts for $10. On the other hand, big agencies working for big brands could charge $600 an hour. Before calling around, you need to consider your budget. What can you reasonably afford and how much help do you want? Do you want full marketing support or do you have small projects from time to time?

An agency isn’t likely to give you a price quote on that first phone call. However, they can tell you their minimum, or the smallest amount they are willing to bill for a new client.

What Is Your Marketing Specialty?

Every marketing agency, even a full-service agency who says they can do everything, has a couple sweet spots. For some, it’s a marketing activity like branding, web development, or content and for others, it’s an industry niche, like food! In many cases, an agency will work outside its sweet spot if it’s a desirable project. If you don’t get a good answer to this question, another good one is, “What work do you enjoy doing most?”

And, in case you are wondering, the work we enjoy doing most involves branding and content strategy.

How Long Do You Typically Work With Clients?

This is a good question to ask a marketing agency because it illustrates the type of relationships they keep and whether or not they value loyalty.

Are All of Your Clients Food Businesses?

If the agency can say some of their clients are outside of the food industry, then you know they are likely getting referrals, too. A great sign of reputable business.

Do You Have Case Studies?

A case study is a write-up detailing a problem and solution. Many agencies will profile a working relationship to showcase gains made through marketing. To see what we mean, check out the marketing case studies on our blog. If an agency doesn’t have a case study, testimonials or references are the next best thing.

Will You Provide Reports?

Anyone managing your marketing should be monitoring your brand names and focus keywords and tracking your numbers. At The Condiment Marketing Co., clients get reports at the end of every month. You can see how we track ROI here.

What Extra Fees Are There?

In some cases, a food marketing agency will quote a project fee which includes their fee and hard costs all rolled up into one price. In other cases, you’ll get a quote for the agency’s fee and all other costs will be billed separately. Either scenario is fine, you just need to understand how it’ll work and what the numbers mean. Some of the extra fees could include advertising, printing, photography, and videography for example.

Will You Do Recipe Development?

An important piece of food business marketing involves serving suggestions and recipes. Is this something you can create internally or will you need your marketing agency to handle this instead? (FYI – The Condiment Marketing Co. does recipe development.)

How Accessible Are You?

Are you the kind of person that wants regular face-to-face meetings and to be able to pick up the phone whenever you need? Or do you want your marketing agency to just handle it without much direction from you? Will you be billed for meetings? Will you need to schedule phone calls? Think about what you need and then choose an agency with a style to match.

Why Should I Hire Your Marketing Agency?

This question may seem aggressive, but I think the sales person will appreciate it, at least we do. Finding the right food marketing agency is a lot like dating. You need to find someone you get along with, share values with, and want to spend time with. By asking why you should hire the agency, you open the door to a genuine conversation about what makes that company different than the rest.

The process of finding a new food marketing agency can be cumbersome. We hope this list of questions to ask before hiring a food marketing agency is helpful and that you’ll call us when considering your next marketing move.

Sara Lancaster

About Sara Lancaster

Sara is The Condiment Marketing Co.’s founder and creative director. She oversees client relationships, strategic marketing plans, as well as a bit of copywriting and social media management.