Deciding to collaborate with a marketing agency or consultant is a significant investment that can yield great results. However, selecting the wrong partner can result in wasted time and money, making it a crucial decision to get right.
Marketing agencies and consultants have different specialties and expertise that make some a better fit than others. There is really no one-size-fits-all. Conducting thorough research is essential in order to find the ideal partner for your specific needs. Here are some important questions to ask:
- How will you know what tactics will work for me? Find out what process they use to get a good understanding of your business, target market, goals, and so on. Do they have a strategic workshop process and can they provide you with examples of that process and the outputs provided?
- Who will be working on my marketing? Who is the person in the business that you will be dealing with day to day? What skills and experience do they have? Will you have consistent contact all the way through – and are they the same people who will work on developing the overall strategy? It’s not uncommon for marketing companies to use their top strategists to help win your business during negotiations, but then once the contract is signed, would delegate your marketing to a junior staff member.
- What results can I expect? Ask them to give realistic estimates of results and evidence of results achieved with similar campaigns from their other clients.
- What do I have to do? Get clear on what part you are expected to play vs your marketing partner. How often are you required to meet, and what briefing, materials, documents or information are you expected to provide on a regular basis? For example, if you are sending out a monthly newsletter, will your marketing partner expect you to provide all the content and just manage the design, or will they write the content? You need to be sure that your marketing company complements the skills and resources you have in-house.
- How locked in am I? Is there a minimum term in your contract? What process is there for reviewing work done for further engagement?
- What services do you offer in-house? Will your marketing partner provide a full service, or will you need to work with other suppliers? Alternatively, how flexible are they if you want to work with your own suppliers for some elements of your marketing? For example, you have your own web developer but want to work with their design team.
- Do you offer a fixed price? Do you offer fixed cost pricing? What do they deliver for the fixed fee if they do offer it? What additional charges are there and how are you made aware of these up front?
- What experiences and results have they achieved? Find out what industries they have experience in, specifically what relevant clients they’ve done for and the results achieved. Ask for relevant client references to speak to. Reviewing their website for client logos or case studies and reaching out to these clients independently is also a good option. Also, find out how they stay up to date with new developments in marketing. What professional development programmes do they have in place to make sure that they develop skills in new marketing mediums and tactics?
- What time frames do they commit to? Ask your agency for committed timeframes for key deliverables based on the work they are doing for you.
- Are they willing to work on one off projects? A good way to test a company is to engage them to work on a small one off project as a way of testing their capabilities. A marketing agency that really wants your business will be happy to prove their value, even on a small project.
As companies look to streamline business operations to focus on core competencies, the decision to outsource marketing has become a viable strategic alternative. It is likewise worth considering if, despite your team’s efforts, you still have sluggish sales and you are having a hard time obtaining quality leads.
Engaging with an agency or consultant for your marketing is a partnership. For the partnership to work, you also need to do your part as the business owner. Start by being extremely clear about what you want. Communication is key to avoiding future issues.
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