Friday, June 27, 2014

You’ve Decided to Outsource Marketing – Now What?

Deciding to outsource some or all of your marketing efforts is a big decision that requires several steps. Taking the time to embrace the process of finding and selecting a marketing partner will ensure your partnership is a successful one.

Marketing Taking the First Step

The first step is especially critical – find potential marketing agencies to bid on the work or use other methods. An easy way to find potential marketing agencies [service provider] is by asking people you know for referrals.

Or look at other companies whose marketing you admire and ask them who they use. Once you have a list of three to four top contenders, make sure to provide them with clear parameters for the type of support you need. This ensures all the agencies are on the same page and you can compare proposals equally. Be specific about the types of projects you need help with, the duration of the engagement, the information you already have at your disposal about your target markets and buyers that you can share with the agencies, etc. The more clarity you can provide at this point, the more tailored and specific a proposal you’ll get from the marketing agencies you’re talking to.

Making the Right Call

Once you have those proposals, it’s time to compare and contrast. You’re not only looking at price, but overall value and, most importantly, the potential results you will get for your investment. To help your decision-making process, ask your potential marketing partners these key questions:

 Do you understand my business and my industry? It may seem pretty basic but you’d be amazed at how many agencies use buzzwords they hear floating around, but they don’t really understand your company or industry. While your business may be complex, smart agencies will listen carefully, ask the right questions and work to understand it inside and out.

Who will be working on my account day to day? This one goes hand-in-hand with knowing your business and your industry. Dig deeper to get the qualifications of the people who will service your account. Yes, people can learn your industry and your business but the ramp time will be cut significantly if the people working your account have direct industry experience. Look them up on LinkedIn or see if they have a blog. Use the power of social media to learn more about your potential day-to-day marketing contacts.

What is your sweet spot when it comes to service offerings? Not every agency can be good at everything; most agencies specialize in a few key, related services or certain industries. Smart buyers will ask the right questions to discover an agency’s niche, especially when the agency says they’re good at everything. Here again is where you look at the experience of team members who will be assigned to your account, plus the agency’s overall portfolio.

What does your portfolio look like for the type of project I have? And speaking of the portfolio, ask for details. For example, if you need someone to develop a new website for your company, ask about the backend details – what platforms do you build on, what content management systems (CMS) do you use – as well as performance of the site post-launch. It’s one thing to have a nice looking site, but what really matters is how that site performs in support of your business goals.

How will you report on hours each month? If you are considering a retainer relationship, this is a very important question. You want to ensure that you are getting value and results for your investment. Do any unused hours roll over to the next month or is it a “use it or lose it” situation? Will you receive a report detailing which projects were worked on and how many hours were billed to each project? Think about what would be helpful for you to know each month and make sure the agency delivers on what they promise you.

Can I have a list of references? You should always ask for references, and any agency would be silly to give you names of people who aren’t going to say great things. Instead of asking how satisfied the reference is or how long they’ve worked with the agency or why they selected the agency, ask other questions that will help you make an informed decision. Some good questions to ask include:
  • What process did the agency go through to understand your business? How long did it take?
  • Have you had any issues with turnover of the agency’s team?
  • How long did it take to start seeing results?
  • Tell me about their project management style (i.e., availability to answer questions, presentation of new ideas, consistency, status reports, etc.)
  • If there was one thing you would change in the way you work(ed) with the agency, what would it be?
    Knowing what you know now based on your experience, would you use them again? Why or why not

All too often companies don’t know what questions to ask and they make a decision based on what they see on the surface. Then, once they get into the relationship a bit further they’re kicking themselves for not doing more research up front.

At the end of the day, your marketing agency should act as your partner and be just as invested in the success of your company as you are. That also means treating them like your partner – it’s definitely a two-way street! Hopefully the tips above will help guide you in your efforts to find your marketing partner.

***Originally written by a different Arthur

To find out if your marketers have the skills or want to know the health of your business marketing today, then find out by taking BJ MANNYST 24HRS MARKETING HEALTH CHECKUP***

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