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Hiring a Marketing Partner? Here Are the Top Questions We Get Asked.

Reaching out to a service provider—whether that’s an agency, consultancy, or freelance support—can be an intimidating step. What are they going to do with your information? Are you going to be thrust into a sales process and bombarded with phone calls and emails? It’d be a lot easier if you could just get some of your basic questions answered without having to jump on a call, right?

Our team agrees. Since, as the sales guy, I’m the one who usually gets asked those questions, I thought I’d put together a list of the ones I hear a lot—that way you can get answers quickly and easily here, rather than having to sit through a phone call you don’t really want to make. And if you’re still not sure about something by the end, just fill out our form. I promise I’ll email you before I call.

Let’s get to it!

1. What is the process for working with you?

This question is usually asked in the context of the actual sales and onboarding structure. It seems that every marketing partner handles this a little differently. At Element Three, you will have three meetings before beginning to work with our team.

Introduction Meeting

That’s with your wonderful author (me, Joe) and what we’re looking to understand together in that meeting is very straightforward: are our two companies a potential match?

Imagine this like dating before marrying, and this is just a first date. We’ll chat through business goals, how you envision this work impacting your company in the short and long term, the timeline you’re working to stay inside, and your investment level.

You don’t need to have all your answers completely buttoned up, but having an idea about what impact you want your project to have and the appropriate investment level for your business helps us craft the right solution for your situation.

Marketing Strategy Meeting

This meeting involves me again, and at least one of Element Three’s subject matter experts. This could be an expert in website development, brand, digital marketing, or any other marketing related field. As a marketing consultancy, we have a host of these people on our team, and any one of them may hop in to understand your problem and help us determine the right solution.

Proposal Review

After the marketing strategy conversation, our team will work to put together a high-level proposal for you. This will involve final budgetary ranges and expected timeline, and it’s intended to ensure we’re on the same page with you and your team. After we agree on the final proposal and get signatures from both sides, you’re off and running with your new marketing team.

2. What is E3’s team structure?

At Element Three we see our team as divided by role rather than title. On every team you will have a strategy lead, a project lead, and a communications lead. Those three are guaranteed, and from there team members are added when the work is required.

For example, if your first engagement is a brand project, you will have a brand lead on your team for the duration of that project. This lead may move out after the brand work is done and be replaced by a digital lead to execute on digital marketing strategy for your brand.

3. How much does it cost?

We’ve actually written an in-depth breakdown on what costs to expect when working with a marketing consultancy like Element Three. But the short version is that there are three main buckets your costs will fall under: marketing technology and reporting, website design and development, and branding & employer branding. Each business will have different needs in each of those three phases, and until you have a pretty good idea of what your needs are, it’s very tough to get a hard number down for cost.

4. How long will this take?

Not to beat a broken drum, but it depends. Instead of knowing exactly how long it will take, it is often easier to know what speeds up the process, making for a more efficient timeline versus what makes it take longer.

Below is a starting point for understanding how to work efficiently and effectively:


  • Know why (re)branding is right; what it solves
  • Make it a known company priority
  • Identify and inform stakeholders
  • Support through internal communications
  • “Live the brand”; operational buy-in
  • Consistency at every turn
  • Understood bar of excellence
  • Timely activation of additional resources
  • Transparency with marketing partner
  • Clear on roles and responsibilities
  • Doable pace


  • Short view focus
  • Misunderstanding brand—a long-term asset—will deliver short-term results
  • No clear trusted brand manager
  • No clearly defined implementation budget
  • CEO runs point on everything
  • External-only view
  • Running (rushing) too much in parallel
  • Inability to point to credible proof

5. What is it like to work with you?

Our VP of Digital likes to say that every engagement should wrap up with you saying, “That was both easy and a great investment.” So, we hope that every single project you do with Element Three is like that.

We’ve found that the projects that are most likely to end with those sorts of responses are ones in which we function as a consultative extension of your team. Your experience should be that our team feels like a part of your company, not an outside vendor.

6. Have you done this work before?

Our range of marketing services contains everything except national PR—so we’ve probably done the work before.

Rather than taking a guess at what you’re looking to accomplish while reading today, I’ll direct you toward our work page, where you can take a look at some of what we’ve helped clients solve in the past.

7. Have you worked with a company like mine before?

Element Three builds and defends market-leading brands as well as market disruptors—and those companies come in all shapes and sizes. The two verticals we have the most experience in are technology and the outdoor industry, but we’ve also worked with professional and collegiate sport teams, large manufacturers of all sorts, and service companies like CPAs.

Head over to our work page to get a feel for who we work with.

8. What differentiates you from other marketing partners?

Ask any service company that question and they will almost all say the same thing: our people. We love our team, but we know you’re tired of hearing that.

The honest truth is you won’t know what differentiates us until you begin talking with us. We take a pretty open approach to where you should and should not invest your time and money, and when we aren’t a good fit to help you, we will refer you to someone who is.

Maybe that’s not my strongest sales pitch, but transparency trumps fancy words for this one.

9. How do you know that my company is a good fit?

People often ask if a particular size of company, industry, or project is a good fit for Element Three.

The answer is no.

We do not choose our partners based on size or industry; for our team attitude comes first and foremost. We believe in building market-leading brands—so we look for those companies that are trying to differentiate from their peers, and stand out above the rest.

If your attitude is “win or die,” we’re probably worth a conversation.

10. When do projects not go well?

I actually love when I get this question in the sales process because it shows an impressive level of transparency. When a project doesn’t go well, it is almost always on both companies to take some blame.

On our end, we may have fumbled the handoff between sales and onboarding, therefore setting the project up to fail before it even began. Or maybe we missed a very important piece of information buried in some email, leading to a missed deadline or goal.

On the client side, the three biggest drivers of projects which finish poorly are unplanned rounds of revisions (they cause missed deadlines, and they are where creative thought goes to die), the Boogeyman Decision Maker (someone who wasn’t part of the input process but has a very strong, overriding opinion on the final output), and simple lack of transparency throughout the relationship.

Being real can be hard, but it is so, so important.

Enjoy the process—and find the right fit

We’re fortunate to work with many wonderful clients and meet lots of new businesses each and every week, so we don’t feel the need to bring every opportunity into our doors. The entire purpose of a sales process is to make sure—on both sides—that doing business with each other will be fun, productive, and a smart long-term investment. We highlight the fun part because we think it’s important; you should spend your life working with people you enjoy being around.

So, if you’ve read through that list of questions and feel like you may be the right type of company to partner with Element Three, I’d love to connect and discover with you whether or not that’s true.

Joe Mills Team Photo at Element Three

“Whatever you are, be a good one.” This advice has served Joe well as he’s worn many hats throughout his career–from college soccer player to marketing expert to Business Development Manager. He’s passionate about using big ideas to build mutually beneficial partnerships, because “to help yourself is to help others.”