Thinking of engaging an agency to boost your marketing output?
By Clare Methven, HMC
Love it or loathe it, marketing is an essential part of any successful business. It’s what feeds the sales enquiries, establishes your brand and develops your reputation.
There comes a time when every businesses needs to grow up and recognise that, although as an entrepreneur you may have great marketing ideas and vision, you simply don’t have the time (or the practical skills) to put these into play. Using the office junior, or bolting it onto the role of the Sales Director, is not the answer.
So it’s time to get some external help. But before you rush headlong into appointing an advertising agency (or any other type of agency) there are some fundamental questions you need to ask to make sure you’re getting the right fit for your business.
1. Strategy. Have you got a clearly defined marketing strategy that flows from your business plan? No? Then you’re looking for a marketing agency with a strategic thinker, someone who understands marketing from a 360 degree view, not just their own specialism.
2. Generalist or specialist? This all depends on the strategy you’ve adopted. A strong online strategy requires a good digital agency, an educational and event led one a good PR agency. Most SME’s would benefit initially from choosing a solid all-round ‘integrated’ agency to give you the best of all worlds on a budget.
3. Does the agency have knowledge of your industry sector? This makes the whole experience so much faster and less painful as they’re already pretty far up the learning curve. And despite fears of only getting crumbs from the big clients’ tables, in reality it can really work to your advantage.
4. Meet your team. Initially you’ll see the sales team in action rather than the account managers who’ll be responsible for your account. Always insist you get to know the people who will be your day to day account handlers….but be careful, a smaller SME budget can mean you get a junior and less experienced team.
5. Set a marketing budget. It may seem obvious but so often businesses try and play cat and mouse with budgets. Tell them what you are prepared to invest, what results you expect, and the timescale. And then measure it, and evaluate regularly.
6. Time. Do not under estimate the time commitment required from you to keep your agency informed and aligned with your business, and to sort out all the day to day approvals and questions.
‘Simples!’ as the advertising generated mega-star of the Compare the Meerkat campaign would say.
Or if this seems just too much like hard work, then consider outsourcing to a part time experienced senior marketing director who takes full responsibility for all of the above with the assistance of a raft of specialist freelancers. Less cost, less hassle, better quality, and arguably better results all round.
HMC provide part time senior level marketing consultants into growing businesses matched to the business needs and sector. For more information call 07810 432831 or see www.hmcomms.com.