Are you getting what you pay for when it comes to marketing?
As U.S. and world economies bump along the bottom, customers repeatedly ask their marketing agencies (among other vendors) to do more with less. Our agency is no different.
Many clients have the perception that e-mail marketing, social media marketing and ‘guerilla’ marketing tactics are great ways to save money. And those channels should be considered a part of the marketing mix – but not solely on the basis of cost savings. For some clients a social media campaign may bear little fruit. You should view your marketing agency as your partner in achieving your sales goals. That’s how we have always worked with our clients. How can you be sure you are getting what you pay for? Here are 7 things to think about:
1) Be sure you can measure it. Aside from broadcast television/radio and magazine advertising most marketing channels today offer at least some ability to measure performance. Satellite radio and cable television offer better tracking capabilities than broadcast and these capabilities will only improve over time.
2) Set a realistic marketing budget. Your budget should be aligned with your sales goals, with a clear depiction of how a successful marketing campaign will be evaluated. Low/medium and out of the park scenarios should be included. I’ve seen far too many ‘budgets’ that are very small and totally out of line with their objectives; i.e. ”We want to sell $20 million worth of our product/service and we have a marketing budget of $100,000.“ How exactly is that supposed to work? Is 200 times your investment an achievable goal?
3) Be prepared that some tactics may not work. If you eschew all or most traditional marketing channels in favor of new media marketing, be prepared that they may not work. Sure it’s possible you will extend your marketing budget but also be sure that in ignoring traditional channels you have not ignored many current or potential customers who simply do not use social media.
4) Allow your expert partners to do their jobs. It sometimes seems that everyone wants to play art director or copywriter. Client-side ideas are very valuable (since who knows the product or service better than you?); but would you make tweaking suggestions to your doctor or attorney? Not likely. Marketing agencies are staffed with professionals, just like your doctor’s or lawyer’s offices. Years of training and experience have gone into their decision making processes.
5) Incentive based deals are acceptable for marketing agencies. For certain products – this may not be true. And an agency willing to take some of its final compensation on the back end still needs to be compensated along the way. But if you enter into a speculative deal it should be a deal you would want for yourself if the product truly excited you. “You win, they lose” is not a basis for a successful long term partnership.
6) Ask your marketing agency to provide prices for creation of different channel efforts. Remember you are the client. It’s not taboo to ask questions like: How much is a print ad? An email or survey? A direct mail package? An outdoor ad? A PURL campaign? Writing a broadcast or cable spot? Even knowing what setting a Facebook fan page or handling a twitter feed will cost is not out of bounds. If your agency is not willing to give you information like this you may want to look around.
7) Allow your marketing agency at least a year to leverage their understanding your business. Yes there are times when you will know relatively quickly that the fit is wrong. But all the time invested in bringing your agency up to speed will be lost if you change agencies like you change socks.
Don’t be hesitant in discussing your marketing budget with you marketing agency. Let them tell you what they feel can and cannot be done. Both parties will come out of that discussion with a much better idea of the expectations and deliverables.