Executives & Directors of Marketing

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Welcome to the busy executive’s guide to hiring an agency. This guide is approximately 7,000 words, or 23 pages in an ebook. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing today, I recommend that you download it using the form on the right side of this page to save and read later on the go.

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Tired of hiring the wrong help?

Download our free guide to hiring the right digital marketing firm for your business, including questions to ask, things to watch for, and more.

In 2012, I was approached by three different friends who were heads of marketing at companies in New York City. They had all hired agencies to help them grow. All three had experienced less traffic and fewer customers as a result, instead of their goal of more traffic and customers.

They were frustrated and so was I.

I’ve written this guide for you, the head of marketing at a company that is growing in all the best ways possible. Maybe it’s your first time in this role, or maybe you’re a seasoned professional and you’ve done it before. No matter your experience, marketing changes quickly and you need help keeping your head above water.

You have many challenges, including competitors, determining and landing marketing budget, working well with your colleagues, and hiring and enabling a great team. The industry constantly changing makes this even more challenging than it should be.

As you navigate all of the challenges in your work, you also have to keep the company’s important metrics moving in the right direction. Talk about pressure.

You probably feel like you have four different jobs, and that’s because you do.

  • You’re a marketer;
  • You’re the hiring manager;
  • You’re an executive at the company;
  • You’re trying to build, enable, trust, and motivate a team.

Many directors and VPs of marketing at companies that are growing will lean on an agency or consultant simply because hiring a full time inhouse position can be time consuming, expensive, and often risky. Hiring an outside provider to help is often the right move, but comes with its own pitfalls.

If you’ve never hired an agency before, you are likely wondering where to start. If you have, then you have lessons you’ve learned but you also recognize that you have other blind spots.

That’s where this guide (and Credo) comes in.

Why I wrote this guide

Since late 2015, I have seen and helped over 1,300 businesses get connected with and hire a digital marketing agency. The goal, of course, is to take the business to the next level by engaging with the right strategic partner.

Previous to that, I was the lead marketer on two known nationwide brands under the Zillow Group family of brands where I built and led teams and made more than my fair share of mistakes. Before that, I worked for two digital agencies, in New York and Philadelphia, and drove a lot of traffic and business their way.

In my decade of working in marketing, I have:

  • Worked at two different agencies on clients from small startups to some of the largest websites online dealing with very hard technical problems;
  • Worked in house for Zillow Group, leading marketing and growth on their brands HotPads and Trulia Rentals where I built and managed teams and marketing budgets;
  • Hired agencies to help us with design, marketing, and engineering;
  • Hired channel owners as well as junior marketers, and learned many important lessons;
  • Personally sold and delivered over $750,000 of digital marketing consulting work;
  • Seen over $9,000,000 in digital marketing spend some through Credo since October 2015;
  • Consulted with over three dozen businesses and over a dozen marketing consultancies (agencies and consultants) on how to hire and how to deliver better work.

Across the businesses I’ve helped with Credo, I’ve seen every type of business organization.

Some have a dedicated VP/Director/head of growth/marketing with full engineering and design teams at their disposal, while others are a very small team and the founder is going to be the person managing the agency. This is discussed in the section entitled “Building an internal team to support your initiatives.”

Some companies look at an agency as an addendum to their existing marketing organization, while others look to an agency to be their marketing department.

Neither is right or wrong necessarily, as what you need and when you need it depends heavily on your business, your personal experience and skill set, and the team you have in place already (or the lack thereof).

You just need the guidance on how to put this strategy together.

Who I am

My name is John Doherty and I am the founder of GetCredo.com, where we’ve seen over 1,300 businesses and $8,000,000 in marketing spend come through Credo since September 2015 looking for help getting connected with the right marketing provider for their needs. I live in Denver Colorado with my wife and our very large black labrador Butterbean.

Tired of hiring the wrong help?

Download our free guide to hiring the right digital marketing firm for your business, including questions to ask, things to watch for, and more.

What this guide is about

In this guide, we will examine four main areas that are critical to your success and determining if an agency or consultant is right for your business.

First, we will talk about how to know if you need an agency or consultant to work alongside you and your team.

Second, we will talk about team structures, business dynamics, and how to build an internal team to support working with an agency.

Third, we will talk about how to identify a good agency and the questions you need to ask and have answered before hiring someone. We’ll also talk about why a “test project” is a bad idea.

Finally, we will cover how to know if the agency you are working with is getting you the results you signed up for.


John Doherty

I am the founder of Credo. I have 10 years of SEO and digital experience, across agencies and in-house, and have worked with some of the largest websites on the internet to drive growth. I live in Denver CO with my wife and dog. I am an entrepreneur, speaker, writer, skier, rock climber, and plan to visit every continent on Earth. You can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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