6 Mistakes to avoid when choosing a marketing partner
1. Choosing a marketing agency based on price
Choosing a marketing agency based on price can be tempting at first (after all price is always a factor), but doing so inevitably results in a combination of the following:
- • Low price is the bait that attracts your phone call. Once the agency gets you on the phone or into his office, he may try to pressure you into a much more expensive option; or one with terms that are not favourable to you.
- • The rates and fees quoted to you initially may go up at the last minute. Unscrupulous agencies know it will be difficult for you to back out once committed. They hope you will simply accept the last minute changes.
- • Some agencies reduce their rates to attract customers, but this makes it impossible for them to ensure a quality solution, acceptable service and adequate return on investment. Clients who use “cut rate” agencies end up with delays, unreturned phone calls, conflicting information … as well as negligible outcome and a very stressful experience.
Your aim should be to always work with an agency which provides outstanding service, and professional, knowledgeable advice at a reasonable fee.
2. Choosing an agency based on a single telephone conversation or meeting
Selecting an agency is a process and not something which can be done following a single phone call or meeting. It’s an important decision, critical to the success of your business development initiative. Therefore requiring extensive discussion around competency, experience and reputation – a selection process based on comprehensive criteria.
Providing a solution which best meets your needs, requires detailed analysis of market, competitors and operational capabilities – which cannot be achieved with a single call / meeting. Attempting to do so is a clear indication of ‘product peddling’ and always yields a poor return on investment.
3. Choosing an agency which does not offer some form of guarantee
In marketing there are ‘performance guarantees’ and there are ‘performance guarantees’ …. What’s the difference you ask? Well, one is an absolute must, the other is a cross between managed risk & ‘wishful thinking’ …. Let me explain.
The difference lies in what exactly the agency is guaranteeing – operational / service level performance or resultant outcome:
Guarantees of operational performance:
In our view, every agency should be fully accountable for its work. If you aren’t pleased with the job in any way, the agency is responsible to work with you until you are delighted with the result. Details of the project (including scope & performance criteria) must be defined on commencement of the project – and adhered to throughout.
Guarantees of marketing outcomes:
The majority of marketing services providers don’t offer a guarantee of outcome. The agency’s which do, offer limited guarantees due to:
- • Predicting the performance of campaigns is more an art-form than science – applying the same marketing principles (or even identical campaigns) to different environments can yield radically different results.
- • The nature of marketing requires working with external services – over which you have no control.
The term “guarantee” is interpreted loosely and applied liberally with many marketing agencies – it’s therefore important to understand exactly what is being guaranteed. Ask the agency what guarantees they offer, and ensure they are detailed and well documented prior to commencing the marketing project.
4. Choosing an agency which does not have quality management systems
Marketing campaigns are extremely complicated – dealing with multiple stakeholders (internal specialists, external service providers & key client staff), utilising varying technologies and involving multiple steps. Each step must be monitored so nothing is missed (this happens behind the scenes, so you never know about it…until something goes wrong!).
Therefore it’s critical that the agency you choose has sophisticated systems (marketing automation, project management & customer service systems) to keep track of these steps – in order to avoid mishaps such as missed deadlines and incomplete “half baked” campaigns.
5. Choosing an agency which does not keep you updated throughout the marketing campaign
It can be very frustrating and stressful for a business owner when they don’t know what’s happening with their campaign / project …. And yet many agencies don’t bother to keep their customers updated on progress and informed of important events.
Support should not be limited to communication throughout the marketing project, but must cover interactions both before and after, as well as providing different modes of support (dependent on client needs):
- • Social media – interacting & developing relationships
- • Blog – provide marketing information
- • Forum – discuss / educate client on varying aspects of marketing
- • Newsletter – keep client updated on latest marketing developments
- • Helpdesk – product support
- • Seminars & workshops – intensive marketing knowledge development
6. Choosing an agency without getting comments from other clients
Any agency can say anything they want about their clients …. Sadly, some of what they say may not be true. Any ethical agency should be able to provide a list of case studies detailing business issue, work performed, and resultant outcomes; along with corresponding references.
Of equal importance are their interactions with clients and public in general via social media, forums, etc – it is vital to ensure the agency is an honest, ethical, knowledgeable and professional company you can trust.