September 4, 2020

How to find the best marketing company

By Blair Burchill

As with all things, finding a solution depends on truly understanding the problem. Instead of looking for the “best” marketing company, it’s more important to look for the right marketing company—because the best will depend on your needs.

Finding an advertising agency should be easy. There’s no shortage of them around. You don’t need professional qualifications or accreditation to start an advertising, design or marketing agency—unlike accounting or law.

A quick Google search of ‘advertising agency near me’ provides more than a dozen to choose from in Ottawa, let alone looking at the cities of Montréal and Toronto, which are not far away. Searching ‘design agency near me’ turns up even more options in Ottawa.

Talent is the Key

The truth is anybody with an iMac Pro and the Adobe suite can put up a shingle and start taking in business.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as a university degree is not a guarantee of excellence in finding a consumer insight or creating a great ad campaign. Creative directors and agency chiefs are more interested in a track record of great work than a piece of parchment paper stamped ‘degree’ when hiring.

So what do you look for when hiring an agency, if not a roster of ‘qualified’ personnel? It may depend on what you need.

Factoring in Your Business Situation

Ready for Rescue

Is your business or brand in decline? Perhaps you need a razor-sharp ad campaign that will cut through the media clutter and bring you some fame. If you choose this option, however, make sure your business is actually good at what it does. A creative ad agency with strong and recent work on their website or highlights reel rather than decades of mundane work will be right.

Herd of Cats

Is your business doing well in spite of a scattergun approach to marketing and advertising materials? You may just need a ‘safe pair of hands’ agency with a long track record of doing dependable work to keep you consistent across all of your owned and paid media channels.

Queen of the Castle

Are you the market leader in your space, dominating all and watching competitors come and go? You could seek an agency that handles large, multi-media campaigns to shore up the brand fortress so no other brand can enter the space. Or, you can behave like a challenger brand and create underdog campaigns to appear smaller and humbler to your customers (while at the same time out-spending the competition to dominate actual share-of-voice).

Pricing and Value

Some agencies work on a per-project basis and others, like Xactly, work on a retainer model that allows you to access any of their services as your marketing needs change. You can use us for media strategy for a product launch one moment, a website upgrade the next—all without having to go through an estimating process for each task. This makes us more of a marketing department rather than a service provider.

There are many options to consider. And many marketing strategies for each marketing issue you may have.

Just remember to consider your requirements and research the agencies in your area. When in doubt, lean towards creative ability, because great ad ideas always stand out, whereas putting money behind a bland idea is always a bad move.

Contact Us


Blair Burchill , Strategy Director + Fractional CMO

Blair has 25+ years experience in advertising agencies from Ottawa to Brisbane to London. His experience transcends consumer brands from airlines and lottery operations in Australia, to petroleum and fast food in the UK, to government and public utilities here in Ottawa. His aim is always to find a point of difference for a brand that is based on an inherent truth, and bring it to life with campaigns in targeted media channels from traditional to digital and social. In addition, Blair spent over two years on the client side as the national director of marketing for a Cisco UC provider in Australia, working on B2B lead generation campaigns. His interests are advertising, rugby and summer.