The Ultimate Guide to Hiring the Best Small Ad Agencies

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring the Best Small Ad Agencies
  • A lot of people advise small business owners to hire an advertiser. But should we? What are the benefits? 
  • Among a variety of options, we need to choose the right person for the job. Let's consider all the pros and cons of freelancers, in-house advertisers and marketing agencies.
  • Here are some super useful pieces of information you need to know before you hire an advertising agency for your small business.

Without a solid advertising strategy, you’re going to have a difficult time getting customers. There’s a lot that goes into a successful advertising campaign, so it’s important for every business to have a dedicated team that understands the ins-and-outs of the process and can see it through from start to finish.

Why Should You Hire an Advertising Agency?

When budgets are tight and time is short, too many businesses tend to put marketing low on the priority list. That’s a huge mistake - advertising is essential to business and small business owners should hire an advertiser if they want to expand their business.

Developing and implementing effective advertising strategies isn’t something you can do in just a few minutes a day. There are a lot of niche roles that make up an advertising team. This includes:

  • Content Development
  • Web Design
  • Graphic Design
  • Copywriting
  • Email Strategy
  • Market Research
  • Social Media Marketing
  • SEO Research

That’s a lot for an already busy business owner to take on! On top of that, things in the advertising industry are constantly changing - the social strategy you used today may not be viable tomorrow.

So could you do this all yourself? Maybe. But a team of dedicated professionals could do it more effectively. Advertising pros have already spent years perfecting their craft and can apply what they know to create an effective strategy for your brand.

In-House, Small Advertising Agencies or Freelancers: Who to Hire?

You’ll have to decide between hiring in-house employees, an advertising agency, or freelancers. Every option has its pros and cons, so what’s best for your business? Here are some points to keep in mind.

In-house employees

  • You'll have more control over the day-to-day operations
  • Will have to pay them a base salary plus benefits
  • If you hire only one employee, they will likely need to outsource some of the work
  • You'll need to invest in costly software and subscription services

Small Advertising Agencies

  • Usually, pay a monthly retainer
  • Has a team to handle all advertising needs
  • You won't need to pay benefits
  • They have their own software


  • You'll likely need to hire more than one
  • High hourly rate, works fewer hours
  • You won't need to pay benefits
  • They have their own software

What Questions Should I Ask to Hire the Best Small Ad Agencies? 

Not only should you know whether or not your potential candidates are qualified for the position, but you should also know if you can have a good working relationship with one another. Here are some questions to help you determine if they’re a good fit.

What’s included in your fee, and in what scenarios, if any will there be additional charges?
No one wants to invest money in a service only to encounter unexpected fees along the way. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting for the money you’re paying them. Contracts can vary depending on the agency, so it’s important you take your time to understand each of them before you make your decision.

Do they offer a complete package?
Some agencies have one or two strengths while leaving a lot to be desired in other areas. If you hire an agency that specializes in print and television ads but doesn’t have a great record when it comes to web design, your business could suffer unless you hire someone else to round off other areas. It’s worth your time and money to find an advertiser that can create content for all your marketing needs.

If hired, what will the first 60 days of work look like?
Get an idea of how they operate and build a strategy. An experienced marketer will know how they plan to get your advertising where it needs to be.

What, if anything will you need to contribute?
Just as you have expectations for your candidates, they’ll have expectations for you and it’s important to understand them from the start. If your agency is handling your social media, they may expect you to provide them with on-site pictures. If they’re managing your blog, they may expect you to provide topic ideas or written content.

But don’t assume that means the agency is being lazy. Providing on-site photos or content ideas that actually matter to you will allow your agency to put a personal touch on the content they publish for you which helps to connect with your audience. If in doubt, ask them why they prefer you to provide it and make sure expectations are clear from the start.

Ask for a portfolio with demonstrated success from previous accounts.
Are they good at what they do? Have they been successful for other clients? Does their advertising style fit the personality of your brand? A qualified candidate should be able to provide you with a portfolio that includes previous work examples as well as metrics that demonstrate the success of their work.

When you’re reviewing the portfolio, make sure their work is in-line with what you hope to communicate with your target audience. An advertiser can have great success for a law firm, but that style and language won’t be appropriate for a business that’s aimed at young artists or sports fanatics.

How do you like to communicate with your clients? 
How do they plan to communicate with you and how often? Will there be monthly or weekly updates and reports? What software do they use to communicate with clients? Make sure their typical communication strategy is one that you’d be happy and able to work with. If you want to partner with someone who can get in touch with during regular business hours, you’d probably want an advertiser who is in the same time-zone as you are instead of someone who might be working while you’re asleep.

What, if anything, will be outsourced?
It’s nice to know who’s handling your account. Many agencies do outsource work to contractors and you have the right to know what they handle in-house and what they don’t.

Do they really want your business and care about your success?
This is a question you should ask yourself after you’ve interviewed your candidates and heard their pitch. Do they genuinely seem interested in you and your business? You’ll want to hire someone who cares about getting to know you and your target audience and is invested in helping you succeed - not someone who simply views you as another paycheck.

Tips to Hire the Best Small Ad Agencies on a Budget

  • Don’t be afraid to hire someone who’s more expensive, but can complete the work in fewer hours. Their experience should make up for the time and get you better results.
  • Have some specific marketing goals in mind before you hire. If you have a small budget, you may only want to invest in a smaller but focused advertising campaign. So if your business is aimed at young adults, you can look for an advertiser that specializes in social media and leave print ads out of the picture until you have a larger budget.
  • Invest in a strategy call. If you really can’t afford to hire an advertiser, find a professional who offers coaching calls. They won’t do the work for you, but they can advise you on what steps to take. When your budget grows, you can invest in more employees.

Marketing is one of the most important parts of any business strategy. Investing the money to hire a dedicated professional can bring you great results. Good advertising will get you leads that turn into paying customers and put your brand in front of new audiences, helping you grow your business and find success.

Editor's Update 07/07/20:

Thanks for reading our article by Tabitha Naylor, Owner at We hope it has helped you gain a better understanding of how to hire an advertising agency for your business. Members at SavvySME have additional questions on the subject, so we have responded to some of these FAQs below.

Tabitha Naylor

Owner at

I am a qualified, experienced and enthusiastic sales & marketing professional. My passion for marketing excellence finds its roots not only in my accreditation's but also in the application of this acumen in my own business. This has rendered me a success to both myself and my clients. I appreciate the importance of high quality marketing and I deliver my services meticulously and comfortably.