by Alex Wiseman
for ENT 610 – Entrepreneurial Creation
at Western Carolina University
When thinking about using a marketing agency to help grow a business, what are some of the things to have in mind going into this decision? Is the goal creating brand awareness? Is it consumer education? Honestly, it could be any number of things and a professional marketing agency will be able to help you. It takes a good amount of research and interviewing to find the right marketing agency. A great marketing agency will highlight the consumer more than they highlight themselves. Next, once the marketing agency has become a partner, it is time to vet their work. The marketing agency isn’t going to hit a “home-run” on the first try, so it’s important to give clear feedback as to what the company’s needs and desires are. After that, just keep in touch and let them do what they do best! All you have to do is reap the rewards of a fantastic marketing campaign…and pay them, of course.
The first step is for the company to determine its goals.
The first step is pretty straight forward: what do you need a marketing agency for? Some examples of why a company would need a marketing firm are:
- One thing to consider is if marketing should be done in-house or with a marketing agency. In an article written by Dan Scalco for Inc., he states, “If you’re thinking that those are just minor expenses, you will also want to take into account that to get the experience and expertise of an agency you would need to hire premium employees. Here’s the average salaries for key marketing roles…
On the flip side, a marketing company may only charge your small business anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 per month (estimated) depending on your needs.” Another thing to keep in mind with employees is that you are paying for taxes and benefits, on top of their salaries. Another article by David Cuevas, for InTouch Marketing, mentioned that some agencies may charge as low as $3,000 per month. He also goes on to mention, “…and the true cost can be as much as 1.25 to 1.4 times the base salary. Add in additional expenses such the cost of recruiting and training and the total starts to escalate quickly,” in reference to how much it costs to hire an employee to do the same job.
- Another reason to hire a marketing firm is because you have an immediate need that you can’t wait to train an employee for. It can take a long time to find, hire, and train a marketing manager to come in and do what needs to have been done yesterday. On top of that, there are costs associated with recruiting and on-boarding that factor in to the equation as well. Once a company has hired a marketing agency, the experts are already hard at work on day one. It could also be that a company just does not have the time to complete the marketing tasks that need to be done. There are many different components to managing successful business growth, but if someone is tasked with marketing (as well as other responsibilities) and it’s not getting done, it may be time to seek help.
- Sales and Leads. If a company has not seen an increase in sales, or the number of leads they receive, chances are that a good marketing strategy needs to be developed. No customers will be interested in your product if they don’t know it exists or if they don’t understand it. In a HubSpot article by Alisa Meredith, she states “If you know there is a market for your product and service, and you’re confident that your customer service, sales team and pricing are stellar, the problem with lagging sales could well be ineffective marketing.” She also goes on to mention, “Assuming your salespeople are skilled and hard-working, it could be that current marketing efforts really are producing few leads or poor-quality leads.” The marketing agency will come in and work with each department to figure out where the best marketing strategies lie. The process will become more refined over time and turn into a “well-oiled machine.”
- Don’t like marketing. It really could be that simple. Maybe the company doesn’t like to do marketing and would prefer to just let the marketing professionals (at a marketing firm) take care of it for them. If marketing is not the company’s forte, then it will not work. It’s best to let someone else control the marketing efforts.
Then it’s time to interview a marketing agency.
- When interviewing a marketing agency, it is paramount to pick the partner who has the company’s best interest in mind, not their firms’. Kristen Gough, for HubSpot, wrote “Personality clashes or a misalignment of ethos or creative standards can all lead to poor performance and stressful communication between an agency and a client business.” If the company and the firm can’t seem to find that chemistry in the beginning, it’s best to move on and avoid the future setbacks.
- All about the numbers. It is important to find a firm that measures analytics as a part of their marketing efforts. Being able to quantify results is immensely valuable in the sense that inefficiencies can often be evident in the data. Marcus Varner, for Workfront.com, argues that marketing agencies must use data to gain a broader understanding of their client’s audience and customers. These companies use this data to measure their results, as well, and to help drive better conversion rates. Looking at the analytics is like cartography, we always know where we’ve been and the blank spaces are the places we need to go.
- When it comes to marketing today, having a mastery of digital media is a must. Using the internet for advertising and marketing can help to turn over more leads and encourage more conversions. It can help get a company’s product in front of a very specific, targeted audience. According to IronPaper.com, “the marketing agencyshould be proficient in the following services: email marketing campaigns; social strategies; nurturing; website development; mobile; pay-per-click (PPC) ads; content strategy and creation; SEO; link building; landing page creation; and marketing automation.” There are many channels to gather the information needed and advertise products. Knowing how to use each of these channels in the most effective manner can help add credibility, and value, to a marketing agency.
- It’s also important to get what is being paid for. Proper communication between a marketing agency and its client is one way to stay on top of the investment. Marcus Varner recommends building an in-person, personal relationship with a marketing agency before continuing the relationship via digital communication. Kristian Gough adds to the communication discussion by adding the fact that an agency may send in their best team for the interview with the client, but then put a junior team on the account once it has been sold. Make sure that the agency representatives that come in for the interview are the same one working on the project. Lastly, transparency is a valuable asset…if the agency possesses it. An agency that is open about pricing, about past project successes and failures, and open to answering any questions (that may come up in an interview) honestly and truthfully, will be a great agency to partner with.
- It’s one thing to be creative, and another to go overboard. Knowing the data, the company, and the customer base can help the marketing agency know how to best create an advertising campaign for a specific company. Fresh and original ideas, as well as keeping up with all the latest trends, can set one marketing agency apart from the others. An agency that knows how to get the message across without turning away current, loyal customers can take a company a long way. Listen to the ideas each marketing agency has had in the past. Maybe a familiar campaign will be discussed in the interview as well.
What to expect once the marketing campaign is complete.
Every marketing campaign has similar, yet separate goals. The goals set by the company, during the “needs assessment” part of hiring a marketing agency, will be the item(s) to be measured post-campaign. If the goal was advertising a product to increase sales, then the expectation is that company sales will increase. If they are not increasing, the campaign was not effective. If the goal was consumer education, check Facebook groups or Google searches to research whether or not people understand the product or service. If the goal was to get email addresses for email marketing campaigns, it would be easy to see how many new email addresses were obtained. This would be an indication of people showing interest in the product or service. If the goal was to create a television commercial with the intent of showcasing differentiation, does the finished product say exactly what it needs to say in 30 seconds or less? These are the types of results that are quantifiable after the marketing campaign is complete.
The qualitative post-campaign measurements will only be seen over time. This could be something as simple as developing a relationship with the marketing agency. If the campaign went well and everyone was satisfied with the business conducted together, it could lead to a new partnership and greater opportunities in the future. More qualitative measurements could be a cult following, word of mouth marketing, consumer education and much more. These will stem from great results of an initial marketing campaign with a great marketing agency.