Marketing should not be shrouded in secrecy and regarded as a ‘Dark Art’ which no-one understands, as the marketing process is actually very simple and logical.
So why is it then that when it comes to appointing a marketing company that businesses can get it so horribly wrong?
One of the main reasons behind this is that there are hundred of companies in the marketplace who are actively promoting themselves as ‘marketing experts’ when in fact all they are is creative or communications agencies.
Marketing is a much bigger area than purely communications and this Top 10 Tips Blog is designed to help you fathom out which marketing company is really going to get you the most bang for your buck!
Tip 1 – Do you require an Agency or a Consultancy?
What is the difference, I hear you cry? Well you can quite easily tell the two apart. A marketing agency tends to be more creative focused and will channel all of its energies on the communications – branding, brochures, websites, PR etc.
A marketing consultancy on the other hand will focus attention on helping you work out the “who, what, why, where, when and how” of what you should be doing.
If you already have a plan or strategy and are looking for someone to help you roll it out – go with an agency. If you need help in terms of what you should be doing – use a consultancy.
Tip 2 – Do they talk about you or them?
If the marketing company spends the majority of the meeting talking about themselves and how great they are – beware! This usually means that they are not great – they are purely a great sales machine. If they spend the initial meeting finding out all about you and probing you for information, then you know that they have your interests at heart!
Tip 3 – Are they prescriptive? Do they arrive with the solution?
It is impossible to offer any advice to any company on what specific activity they should undertake until they fully understand your business, your industry, your competitors, your markets and your customers. Therefore if they are recommending you should invest in activity x or y from day one – you know once again that they are just a slick sales machine and have no interest in recommending what is right for you!
Tip 4 – Are they impartial or do they have vested interests?
This follows on nicely from Tip 3. If their business has a PR division, a web design division and an SEO team, guess what? They are going to recommend you invest in PR, a new website and SEO. The best advice you can get is from someone who is completely impartial and has only your best interests at heart! Probe them and find out how their business is structured.
Tip 5 – Are they experienced in your industry and talk about lots of similar clients?
If so, avoid them. Everyone looks for the comfort of industry experience and similar success stories. All this means is that they will be approaching you with preconceived ideas of what works and doesn’t work in your industry. This is not always correct.
Every company is different and it is those companies that break the mould within their industry that start to lead it. Get someone in who is completely fresh to your industry and can look at your business objectively through the eyes of a client! This adds much more value to your business.
Tip 6 – Do they ask about the financial metrics of your business?
This is critical. If the company spends no time in calculating your average transaction values, your average customer lifetime profit values and your enquiry conversion rates then how can either of you know how much you are willing to invest in marketing in order to win a new client?
If they don’t discuss this then they have no interest in your return on investment (ROI).
Tip 7 – Do they talk about results and ROI (return on investment)?
The companies that openly talk about tangible results that they have achieved for previous clients are clearly focussed on the end goals.
Those who duck the issue and talk about pretty campaigns and beautiful imagery are just self indulgent creatives.
Yes it is great if you can look beautiful and generate results – but if you have to pick one or the other I know which one I would choose.
Tip 8 – Do they speak in a language you understand?
Don’t let them blind you with technical jargon.
Marketing is simple.
You will be amazed how simple the process is. Don’t let an agency or consultant make it sound complex, it isn’t. If they can’t communicate succinctly to you what they do, then what chance have they got of communicating what you do to your target market?
Tip 9 – Are they happy for you to ring their clients?
Ask for testimonials. Don’t accept printed sheets with written testimonials as proof – ask them if you could have the contact details of a couple to ring them up and chat with them about their experience in working with you. If they have done a good job and delivered what they promised there should be no issue!
Tip 10 – How confident are they that they can meet your objectives?
First of all do they even find out what your ultimate objectives are? If so will they put their money where their mouth is and offer a minimum performance guarantee?
This can be a difficult one to measure accurately but certainly some minimum KPI’s can be put into place to ensure your investment is well spent. It will also test their commitment to forming a long term partnership rather than a ‘quick hit’ sale.
So there you have it! The top 10 ten tips for choosing a supplier. Please leave comments about your experiences – help others to avoid the same mistakes!
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