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The iconic Cleveland sign in Cleveland, Ohio

How many ads have you seen say, “Do you like getting customers and making money?” As if every company in the US is not looking for more business. You need to get your name out in front of potential customers, which is the name of the game. Cleveland is absolutely brimming with potential customers regardless of if it is business to consumer, or business to business, there are people and businesses everywhere.

Choosing a marketing company can be overwhelming, we here at Acclaim understand that marketing your business online or in person can take a huge chunk of time out of your day-to-day operations, and you have time restraints and deadlines. Hiring and training a person can be another type of hassle as well, which is why most companies choose to hire a marketing firm to fill in the gaps while you run your business.

Understanding Your Needs

One of the first things you want to find out about a marketing agency is their ability to identify your needs. If you have not created even a single social media account, and they fail to bring that up in the first meeting, you may realize that firm did not even search your business in Google. Say you want more traffic to your website; you will need an agency that can utilize a Customer Relations Management System (CRM) to email your clients and customers and get statistics on which leads are clicking on your links.

Budgeting is another key factor in your choice of an advertising agency, as you need to be frugal with how much money will be going towards this slice of the pie. Some agencies will actually charge you differing rates depending on what kind of work they will be doing, for example, creating a video may cost $250+ per hour, while social media posts may be $175 per hour, and it may seem deceiving when they talk to you about their services and hourly pricing, but they want to maximize their profit as much as you do. Be cautious when dealing with agencies that fluctuate in their prices depending on the services provided.

Here in Cleveland, we have an extremely diverse demographic of people, sometimes it is incredible to think of all the cultures and ethnicities going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or the Cleveland Beer Festival. One of the strengths we possess as a city is our wide array of groups of people on a local level. So luckily for us, Cleveland will have the market you are shooting for, guaranteed. You can search the markets here on The City of Cleveland Economic Development Site.

Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio
Progressive Field in Cleveland, OH
Playhouse Square with the infamous chandelier hanging over the intersection in downtown Cleveland, Ohio.
Playhouse Square in Cleveland, OH

Researching Potential Firms

The first hurdle we must jump over are the benefits and downsides of local, national, and offshore firms. Local firms provide immediate service, in-person meetings, and can satisfy the demand of much more urgent projects much faster at a higher cost. National firms may be less expensive, but they are also less reliable, unable to solve urgent problems quickly, or even understand the culture of Cleveland itself. Someone writing a blog in Soda Springs, Idaho is not going to know how we Clevelanders say “pop.” They are not going to understand our self-destructive love for the Cleveland Browns. They will be disconnected in a way that becomes more prevalent the more intimate you need their help with content creation or demographic targeting.

Lastly, we have offshore marketing agencies. These are extremely affordable, sometimes concerningly inexpensive. These firms might be a US base of operations with all labor offloaded to other countries, or it could be an ad agency completely based somewhere else in the world. The response time and delivery of actual products are very loose, as there may be a time difference that is noticeable. These are the cases where you might get an email at 3am saying a solution to a problem has been found, or a twelve-hour delay in response to a problem with your website.

Each type of agency has its upsides and downsides, but the further away from home you go, the more problems you will have in content creation and reaching your target market here in Cleveland. It is important to check their portfolios and case studies to see if they are going to be able to deliver exactly what you are looking for, as the needs of a small bakery will be completely different from an extremely large steel manufacturing company.

Questions to Ask

First, you need to explore their experience and expertise:

  • How long has the firm been in business?
  • What industries have they worked with?
  • Do they have experience with small businesses and non-profits?

Second, consider what services they offer, and if these fit with your aspirations:

Third, what kind of approach do they take, and what strategies do they normally employ:

  • Are their strategies traditional, unconventional, or a combination of both?
  • How do they tailor strategies based on the needs of the Cleveland demographics?
  • Can they provide examples of previous campaigns?

Fourth, How does this agency communicate and collaborate:

  • How often will they be communicating with you?
  • What tools or platforms do they use to collaborate?
  • Do they have designated points of contact in their agency for projects?

Fifth, What is their pricing and return on investment:

  • What is their pricing structure?
  • How do they measure success and ROI?
  • Are there hidden costs or fluctuating rates for different services?

It can be a lot to go over with a potential agency, and we only skimmed the surface of how many ways marketing firms communicate and work with their clients. Intimidating as it may seem, consideration of those points will really help find the correct agency for your business.

Skyline of Cleveland, Ohio
Downtown Cleveland, Ohio

The Effects of Offshoring Labor

We briefly touched on offshoring labor in an ad agency, and we really wanted to dig into the potential problems into which you may run. An offshore agency may be exactly what you are looking for with your business, but we feel it is important to have enough understanding of the downsides and risks of offshoring advertising to an agency outside of the United States completely.

One of the most important factors in advertising anywhere, but especially Cleveland, is the language we use in messaging, scripts, advertisements, and even social media posts. A language barrier of any kind could have huge impacts with misspellings or incorrect syntax. We are not saying anyone is perfect by any means with their copywriting, but if the content is being written in someone’s second or third language, or a language that is completely unfamiliar to them, there will be more mistakes. In addition to that, simply speaking to someone might prove difficult with a language barrier, and some ideas may be lost in translation.

Timelines may also become a problem for certain projects on immediate deadlines. Say there is a difference in time zones of twelve hours, well that means an issue might not even be seen until the next day, and this can be extremely detrimental if there is a hard deadline approaching. Some advertising firms overseas compensate for this, but it is a risk you take when dealing with companies outside of the United States.

Lastly, we mentioned before someone across our own country might not understand our unyielding admiration of the Cleveland Browns, and that divide becomes even greater if the marketing firm you are working with either hires out labor from other countries or is based entirely somewhere else. We all know for a fact that when the Guardians start up their season, we all need to jump on the bandwagon, as every Clevelander is now excited for trips to Progressive field. Someone in China or Argentina is not going to understand the love we have for our sports teams, our breweries, or Cedar point. These are essential in Cleveland culture.

Lights from Cleveland, Ohio reflecting in Lake Erie

Making a Decision

In the end, if you decide you need a marketing agency to fulfill the role of CMO of your company you have options. Local agencies may be more expensive in some regards but are available for immediate consultation on the same schedule as your business. Firms in another state may find it more difficult to address problems, but more inexpensive in their remote work. Offshore labor may be the cheapest choice but will come with a bevy of problems from time zones to language barriers.

Our opinion is this, a local agency will supply you with a much more hands-on and reliable strategy that can be catered to Cleveland specifically. Agencies out of state may do a good job for a cheaper price tag but might miss some of the essence of Cleveland and might not be able to fix urgent problems as quickly, if they arise. Offshore labor is easily the cheapest route with the most problems and should only be considered if the type of advertising being done is not language-dependent or culturally relevant, as Cleveland takes its culture very seriously.

We hope this breakdown has helped with some more of the burning questions about choosing a marketing agency in Cleveland, Ohio. If you ever want to inquire about our own marketing services at Acclaim, feel free to email us at or leave us a comment on any social media site. Go Browns!