5 Steps to finding the right marketing agency
Finding the service provider best suited to your business development needs (based on outcome & level of engagement) can be a daunting prospect – requiring extensive research, understanding of business objectives, basic knowledge of marketing options and familiarity with ‘tricks of the trade’; along with application of a well-defined selection criteria.
In contrast finding the cheapest ‘rough & ready’ service provider (knowing the company might not be in business tomorrow) …. is something you could source in less than 5 minutes from the hundreds of online ads.
In defining the following steps, our goal is to highlight you are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of marketing endeavours. Put simply, they convey:
“Know your business, marketing options, service providers – then make everyone accountable …. Including yourself”
1. Make a commitment to quality.
Commit to finding a quality agency you trust; with whom you feel comfortable sharing your goals and commercially sensitive information. A competent marketing professional spends hour’s daily studying marketing trends, researching new marketing options, and becoming familiar with emerging technologies. Additionally, he’ll have real world industry experience in formulating best practice marketing solutions; and ability to pinpoint business growth opportunities by outsmarting your competitors.
When confronted with the ‘cheapest’ or the ‘best’ – always choose the ‘best’. Business owners/managers instinctively reach for their calculators when commencing any new project (including marketing) – being conditioned to first define a budget, then build a solution around it. We believe this is counter-productive and usually yields a poor return on investment (as the decision is entirely based on cost).
“If you pay peanuts …. All you get are monkeys”
We suggest starting with your marketing goal, distilling criteria which drive these goals and building a solution around them. Your investment is just one criterion which must be considered, not the only one. Put in simple terms, invest what needs to be invested to make your marketing goal a success …. No more, no less.
2. Research …. Then research some more.
The purpose of research is to develop a better understanding of all aspects of marketing:
- • Your market and how to influence it
- • Your competitor market positioning and influence
- • Your business, its marketing strengths & weaknesses, and resultant threats and opportunities
- • Marketing technologies and available service providers
(A base understanding of the above will enable you to make an informed decision on how and where to allocate your marketing investment)
- • marketing agencies
A secondary by-product of research is to enable you to select a marketing agency best suited to your needs – a decision no longer influenced by sales rhetoric, technical jargon and misleading information.
3. Define your goal, list your objectives ….
The majority of businesses operate what is termed “desperation marketing” – due to the primary motivator being a decline in sales. Business is slow, sales are down, owners understand they must do something … but don’t know what; so they resort to the first idea they are handed.
Conversely, goal oriented / pro-active marketing is a deliberate, focused & sustained approach to marketing which:
- • accounts for all market influences
- • is in line with business needs and capabilities
- • yields predictable & measurable results.
Success is often attributed to “planning the work … and working the plan” – I believe the phrase definitely applies to marketing.
4. Ask questions …. Challenge yourself then challenge agencies.
Ask yourself: “do you want competent, experienced, and professional advice? Do you want to work with an honest and reputable company? “. These are just a few of the many criteria needing to be considered when choosing a marketing agency …. Having read this report more should come to mind.
Define your selection criteria according to what is important to you and your business, quantifying the importance of each. Critical to success is your ability to understand your business needs and skill to differentiate marketing agencies.
Ask the tough questions, then demand agencies justify their answers (further detail, documentation, data etc) …. Weed out the pretenders.
Note: The quality of service and resultant outcome is proportionate to the effort placed on selection.
5. Convey expectations …. Define & quantify success.
You’ve selected your marketing agency according to pre-defined criteria – and are ready to sign off on the marketing project. You’re not finished yet ….
You may have inferred expectations during subsequent meetings & presentations, but still need to formally convey expectations and collaboratively define and quantify success.
It is essential to eliminate misunderstanding, ensure ownership of outcomes (for all parties) and promote collaborative marketing deployment.