Increasingly, businesses are employing the services of specialist marketing companies. This is partly because of the internal pressures relating to staffing costs, but also because of the increased specialisation of skills and capabilities required to effectively market products and services across the more complex and diverse channels or routes to market that exist today.
Why do people use marketing agencies?
Using specialist marketing companies with a focused, strategic approach can be a cost effective method of achieving high quality marketing activity. Often, companies use marketing agencies to either create a bridge between themselves and the industry (media buying companies are an example of this) or to augment skills and capabilities, which would otherwise be too expensive to organically own.
What to look for
The most important thing to look for is experience and credibility in the area of expertise you are looking for. If you require an agency to produce digital content through a number of channels, you need an agency that has experience in this field and can provide you with references from satisfied customers.
It’s important to remember that an agency will always tell you they can do something and that they have done it for all kinds of multinational companies, but don’t take their word for it, ask for and get references!
Start with the brief
Time spent developing a good brief which details exactly what you require, as well as any restrictions or constraints (time, budget, other activity) will help discount many companies from the running. It’s not worth wasting anyone’s time if you don’t have the budget or the time for a particular company to participate in the quotation of the work.
Make sure you have done your own market analysis - look at your competitors and what they have done. Do some market testing and make sure you are confident that you have a USP.
Get a feel for the approach
Ask the marketing company to talk through their approach. How would they go about dealing with the local issues, and most importantly, what experiences have they got in the chosen channels? Often, local journals for example, will use journalists that they know, so it’s critically important that the marketing agency use journalists that have an established reputation for publishing work in the particular journal which you are targeting (if they don’t have experience, you will be paying for the journalist to establish their credentials, not yours!).
Getting along with each other
Depending on what you are planning on using your marketing agency for (outsourcing capability or on a single, discrete project), you need to make sure that the relationship will remain positive for the period of the project, and beyond.
Measure what you value
From the work you have done within the briefing stage of the project, you should have very clear objectives. It’s extremely important that you establish measurements that are shared between your company and the marketing agency, and these should be agreed at the outset of the project and should be transparent to both parties.
Top tips for selecting a marketing company 1. Do your own research 2. Spend time developing a brief 3. Focus on your requirements 4. Match requirements against experience 5. Ask for references 6. Share any limitations or concerns 7. Ask for advice and experience – including third parties they will use 8. Set objectives 9. Develop methods of measuring success 10. Keep communicating. Make sure everyone knows how the project is going and learn from activity