Day One Strategy – Part 8

Welcome to the latest installment of the Day One Strategy series. This is a weekly blog series that will address how to start from scratch. Each week we’ll discuss a new topic and offers tips for the business that is taking their very first step. Last week’s topic was Social Media.

Today’s Topic = Signing a Marketing Agency

There are a number of reasons that companies hire an agency to handle some or all of their marketing – their experience, it may be easier than hiring staff, etc. But hiring a marketing agency is not as straight forward as many business owners think. That’s because you need to find the right marketing agency, as not all agencies are created equal.

Here’s how to get started.

Define Your Goals

It is important to know first why you need an agency. What are your objectives? Don’t leave that up to the agency you hire. At the end of the day you are responsible for your business, not them. When you come with pre-defined goals you will know what kind of agency you’re looking for and you will have more effective introductory conversations.

Do Your Research

Once you know why you need an agency and what you want them to do, it’s time to find them. A list on a spreadsheet will allow you to check off boxes and compare one to all the others. You want an agency with experience doing what you want them to do, preferably for clients in your industry or with similar business models. Location may be important as well, since face to face time can help, especially at the beginning of a relationship.

Use Google, ask colleagues and friends, and find out what agencies your competitors are using. There are thousands of agencies out there that do what you need. So keep looking until you are satisfied with what you’ve found.

Interview Some

After doing your research, it’s time to start the interview process. Just like you would for an internal hire, you want to use the interviews to narrow down your pool of potential partners. Remember that they will be working for you, so it’s critical they can answer your questions and explain in detail how they plan to help your business.

Follow Up with References

Just like you would with an internal hire, you want to ask for and follow up with references. These will be other clients that they have done work for in the past. Get feedback on how well they met their goals, how they handled the relationship, overall trustworthiness and response time. You want to verify that after you sign a contract, you will get the kind of attention and care you are being promised.

Do the Planning

Before you sign a contract, a good agency will help you put together some projections. When you put numbers on paper, everyone knows what they are going to be held accountable for. The agency should be able to tell you in detail how the process will work, what activities will get done along what timeline, and how soon you should expect to see results. If they won’t do this until after you sign a contract, they are not worth your time.

Stay Involved

After the deal is done, your work is not over. Like I said up top, your business is your responsibility. You have to hold the agency accountable if they veer off course or don’t live up to their promises. At the beginning of a relationship, it is important to show them that you are involved and there to make sure things go as planned.

And if they don’t, it’s time to start the process over and find a replacement.

Stay tuned next week for another installment. If you have a topic you would like to see covered in the Day One Strategy blog series, use the comments below or contact us today.

Can an Agency Help Market my Small Business?

Consideration was received for the publishing of this post.

Starting and running a small business can be a confusing and exciting time for anyone. Troubles often mount quicker than solutions materialize and when it comes to marketing most business owners readily admit they haven’t a clue or a budget. Some mistakenly think they don’t need to market their business at all and some avoid it simply because they are intimidated.

There is no singular demographic and the type of business you own makes no difference in its need for exposure. Businesses are always looking for ways to save time and money on their marketing while still attaining an often elusive return on investment (ROI), a marketing agency like MediaWhiz can help. Agencies will walk you through the process, as well assist with marketing materials like business cards.  Agencies also can take ownership of your online presence to maneuver your traditional and social media advertising, PR, and more.

Do you really need a marketing agency to help?  It's up to you, honestly. Know that even established small business owners are looking for help in order to gain or at least retain market share in today’s economy. Enlisting the help of a marketing agency can answer important questions like these with insight and experience:

  • What is the difference between “marketing” and “advertising”?
  • Do I need to spend a lot of money?
  • What are the most important marketing materials I need?
  • Do I have to advertise?
  • What can I do myself?
  • Does social media really work for businesses?
  • ·         How can I capitalize on my unique market place?

What Can a Marketing Agency Do to Help Your Bottom Line?

1. Market and Industry Analysis

    A marketing agency will help you with consumer perspective and buying trends. They are able to access industry and consumer statistics that most businesses cannot. Many business owners understand their own product or service, but not their customer. An agency will define who your customer is in order to find effective ways to target them.

    2. Strategy Leaders

      Ideas can be great, but without a plan or strategy to execute them, they are only ideas. Not every strategy is appropriate, no matter how “fun” in may sound. A marketing agency will have better insight into what promotions or campaigns will work for you and how.

      An agency will cover all the bases needed to pull off your campaign with flying colors.

      3. Leveraging, Negotiating, and Bartering

        Armed with statistics and other market information marketing agencies can negotiate and barter on your company’s behalf garnering you a better deal. Often times business through agencies gets better rates and a deeper attention span of marketing and advertising venues who want their (your) business. In addition, agencies have long standing relationships within the industry that they will leverage on your behalf.

        It’s no secret the economy is more than challenging and other businesses are going bankrupt at astronomical rates. From 2005 to 2009 there were 60,837 new businesses that went bankrupt. The number one reason a small businesses goes bankrupt or otherwise folds is a lack of cash flow. Without a constant stream of consumers/customers there is no cash flow. Consistent and effective marketing is the only way to ensure a constant stream of prospects. A marketing agency can give you the leg up you need to succeed.