Getting married is important and so is hiring a marketing company. Let’s assume that you’ve decided that you want to hire a marketing company (you’ve concluded that you don’t want to be a bachelor forever). The question now is, how do you find the right partner? There are many things to consider.
Do you have time to date?
Not so long ago, most companies who hired a marketing company wanted to date first, before they made a big commitment.
This is a good set up because it affords both sides the opportunity to get to know each other before getting engaged. In our case, B2B companies hired Mezzanine to create a strategic marketing plan for their company, with an understanding that once the plan was finalized, they could either engage us to execute the plan, or they could implement it on their own.
During the 'dating' phase - strategic marketing planning - we ran a workshop with the organization’s key players to do a deep dive into what they currently do, what had already been done, conduct a fresh SWOT analysis and do a thorough breakdown of their ideal customers and their competitors.
With this information, we then did extensive research on the industry, the customer profiles and the competitors and developed a thorough, strategic marketing plan, complete with all the research and analysis that drove the plan including things like keyword research, customer insight, website analysis, metrics from Google Analytics and competitive audits.
While some companies still follow this process, more and more companies come to us and say, ‘let’s skip the dating and just get engaged’. Many have been burned by a previous marketing company and they don’t want to waste any time (which is how they perceive the dating part). They just want immediate results.
Why dating is helpful
But just like in personal relationships, dating between B2B companies and their potential marketing companies is an essential getting-to-know you step. Yes, it's possible to skip the dating if a company is truly averse to it, But we still think it's the best way to develop the most strategic marketing plan that accounts for the many nuances that we end up uncovering piecemeal as we work with those who want to forgo the dating phase.
Some companies wonder why we suggest a 'get to know you' process when we're a B2B marketing company. They think that since we specialize in business-to-business companies, we should automatically understand the nuances in their industry and environment. But not all businesses are the same, and success does not mean the same to all.
Let’s say your number one priority is generating leads. Even that needs to be further defined. Do you need to add net new prospects into your database, nurture them and get them to a point that they are ready to engage with sales? Or do you want to re-engage an existing database of contacts that have never bought anything from you? If that’s the case then you will want to clean that database, segment the contacts and then nurture them and get them ready for sales. In short, you need to be able to clearly define your goals, the metrics you will use to evaluate success, how you will get there and the deliverables you expect to define the engagement as successful.
It takes two
No marketing company can work in a silo. Regardless of size, years of experience or the level of expertise, a marketing company must be a partner with its clients. If you hire a marketing company expecting them to just work away in their office and produce magical results, you will likely be disappointed. If a marketing company doesn’t involve you at key stages in developing the strategy and execution of your marketing plan, then you won’t be happy with the results. No one knows your business as well as you, so you need to impart that knowledge to your marketing company and leverage their sales and marketing expertise to promote your product or service. You need to expect that you will be spending between one to two hours per week on average dedicated to marketing. That will include brief meetings to discuss the deliverables for the week, interviews for content, review and approval of materials and reviewing reports. It is a team effort and if you are not willing to invest time into the relationship you are setting your marketing up to fail. Like all successful relationships, especially successful marriages, it needs to be teamwork.
Disagreement is healthy
There will be times where your marketing company's recommendations and your preferences don’t align.
It’s important to listen to the recommendations and evaluate what they are saying. There will be times where you chose to do something different or to find a compromise between what you want and what they are recommending - and that’s okay.
But, if you are not willing to listen to their recommendations and best practices, and trust that they are providing you with valuable insight, then don’t hire an agency. The marriages that don’t work are those that are completely one-sided. If you hire a marketing company expecting them to just do what you want, then you are not getting the value of their experience. If you are set in your ways and you want things simply executed based on your vision, then hire someone to work in-house or a contractor who will simply deliver your desired output.
The value of an outside marketing company is the collective years of experience working together, leveraging best practices and experience from past clients to ensure you are getting the best recommendations to achieve your goals. Treat your marketing company as your partner and believe that they are making the recommendations with your business's best interest at heart.
Happily, ever after
Unlike marriage, your marketing company likely won’t be with you forever. But if you take the time to hire the right marketing company, it can be a beautiful and fruitful relationship for many years. Like all great relationships, you need to have similar philosophies and you need to work together. Like a marriage, this relationship will have its ups and downs, the road you travel together won’t be direct but learn together and celebrate the wins together and your story will have a happy ending.
If you’re hiring a marketing company, here are some tips to choosing the right one.