Do you know your marketing goals and the core competencies and characteristics you need in your new marketing company you want to hire? If not, read PART 1 first and do your homework.
Once you have a few marketing companies that your are interested in, make some phone calls for interviewing them on their procedures and process. Here are 5 questions (and the answers we hope you hear) that will help you in determining if the company on the phone is worth your time.
Finding an effective marketing company these days is so hard. The first part of this blog post can be found in PART 1. Now, let's move onto PART 2. These questions will help you interview your prospective marketing firms.
KEY QUESTIONS (and the answers) TO ASK:
1. Once we have signed a contract, what is your process to get us started?
Their answers should include:
Begin with a discovery that includes: Discussing goals, ideas, and process structure
Analyze your business, industry, competition
Develop a plan then refine the marketing ideas into a long-term plan and structured campaigns
Present the long-term plan and structured campaign to you for feedback and more refining
2. How often and in what way will you report work accomplished, work in progress, successes, and changes needed?
While changes are being made and progress is being reported, you can plan to meet with your dedicated account manager at least once a month to review all these items. How often you meet is dependent on the type of work, the quantity of work that is being accomplished, and how fast of a pace you are moving. Working with a dedicated manager assures that one specific person in the company is responsible for the work being completed and understands you and your company.
3. What part of the marketing is custom and what part is automated?
Automated or simplified online marketing should send up red flags. Most automated marketing is more annoying or hurtful than helpful. For example, is the automated Facebook post linking back to your website with an original image and text, or does it have the marketing company’s logo with linking to their own website? Are the automated postings of testimonials appearing on Google Reviews, which is a powerful tool, or are they appearing on the marketing companies own tool? Is the marketing company sending online traffic to their own website or their own version of your website before possibly sending the traffic to you? Companies that are known for this are Yellow Pages, Yext, Yodle Marketing, ThomasNet… Automated reports sent to you can be a glimpse of what is happening, but you should want results and reporting to always include regularly scheduled conversations of explanation and projections.
4. Does your marketing company blog regularly? Host workshops? Provide resources and newsletters?
A company that is learning and growing and helping their clients grow is the type of company you want to be involved with. You know that they are committed to their clients.
5. How much strategic direction will they provide?
Does this company plan strategy with their clients and come up with long-term as well as short-term plans and goals? Do they develop marketing calendars such as blog content calendars or messaging calendars? Everyone needs to know where you are going. The calendar must be flexible since work and results can take longer than originally estimated, especially when owners change goals.
In today’s world, marketing is more complex and time consuming than it has ever been. The more professional help you get in the area of marketing, the less time you will needs to spend testing ideas, reinventing, and struggling to fix problems. In-house marketing departments are very helpful because they know your company so well and are immersed in your products, services, and culture. They are available at the last minute and can change directions more quickly. But in-house marketing departments tend to miss out on industry training and collaboration that outside marketing companies can provide. They can have difficulty thinking outside the box since they are so immersed in the company ways, and they get taken advantage of by owners and directors to problems on unrealistic schedules. Additionally, in-house marketers tend to be more expensive for a company to maintain since one employee’s salary can pay for a lot of outside marketing.
Outside marketing companies can provide a variety of functionality that an owner may need to hire 3 or more different people to replicate. Marketing companies are consistently being pushed for new ideas since they work with so many different clients. They have well established processes that have been proven to work and that they often will not let owners or managers intimidate them into changing or lowering their standards.
What do you think are key elements of a marketing company?