5 things you must do when engaging a marketing agency

Sean Sweet avatar
Sean Sweet

Apr 23, 2014

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You run a successful business with good sales, a motivated team of people, a great product or service and you’ve managed all that with no real effort on the marketing front.

But you know that to stay ahead of your competition, to survive into the future and to grow, you will have to turn your attention to professional marketing; let’s face it, everyone from your accountant to bank manager is telling you as much.

The solution may appear simple; find a marketing agency you like and can afford, sign them up and hey presto, your marketing worries are over – right?

Not so fast!

Great marketing won’t happen without your commitment and contribution to the process. Believing that it will can be a recipe for disaster and, unfortunately, there are plenty of agencies happy to take a percentage of your profits while you work that out. So, before you take the plunge and outsource all or some of your marketing, check out these 5 things you must do first:

1. Set clear goals for your marketing

Sounds obvious doesn’t it, but you’d be surprised how many company directors don’t really consider their reasons for engaging in marketing activity. It’s as if the very act of hiring someone to carry out marketing will result in a game-changing influx of new sales. That doesn’t mean your new agency won’t be working flat out, they will; new brand, new website, new collateral. The list goes on and on. You may need all those things over time, the question is “what are the priorities?”. Without knowing them first and communicating them properly you could end up with a cupboard full of marketing materials and no idea how to use them effectively.

Be clear on what you want to achieve, set measurable goals and be sure to review progress regularly.

Read our Introduction to B2B Inbound Marketing here and learn all about this  powerful approach to generating leads and sales.

2. Make sure your chosen agency is geared up to plan, measure and report

It’s easy to imagine a marketing agency full of creative types spit-balling brilliant campaign ideas while drinking Starbucks coffee and eating Danish pastries, I wish! The truth is that most successful marketing follows tried and tested methods; understanding goals, developing campaigns to meet them, execution via defined channels and then thorough measurement.

So, it’s not sexy but the results derived from a well thought-out campaign can be pretty exciting. And results can get better and better when the right emphasis is put on testing and measurement. Knowing what has worked well and less well will result in better return on investment. It also means you can keep your agency on their toes – after all, if you aren’t sure of the success then how can you evaluate their worth.

Find out how an agency will measure time and activity on your behalf. What systems do they have in place, how do they report to existing clients and is it regular?

A good agency will use a range of applications to record and report activity, make sure you don’t end up with one that doesn’t.

3. Be prepared to judge marketing success on results

It’s tempting to get involved at a creative level when it comes to marketing. You’ve lived and breathed your business so no one knows it as well as you – it must surely mean you’re best placed to control how things look and the messaging in your marketing output - in most cases this simply isn’t true.

Being involved in your business on a daily basis can make it hard to understand the true benefits of your service or product to potential customers. You don’t have to love how the marketing looks - it’s designed for your customers, not you, which is an important distinction. And your marketing agency will already have experience of what works and what doesn’t. Ignoring that experience can impact results.

Getting the best results means empowering the agency of your choice to design your output, run your campaigns and position your company in the minds of customers. Rather than judge the output be prepared to judge the results – the benefits to you are faster completion of marketing work, lower overall costs and an agency whose staff feel valued and inspired.

4. Check whether a prospective agency has experience of your industry

Marketing principles generally remain the same regardless of sector. Raising awareness of a new software product may involve the same work as promoting a professional service, but it’s worth remembering point two! An agency that plans, measures and reports, that also has experience in your industry is clearly a more attractive choice.

You’ll save a lot of time and money if the agency you choose already has relevant experience. They are likely to have gained a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t. Insight like that translates into quicker results, fewer failed campaigns and a better ROI.

5. Focus on your objectives

With an agency representing you it can be tempting to imagine all sorts of wonderful things that they can do for you and to allow the scope of their work to increase. But I’d recommend caution. Remember the goals you set, stick to them and make sure your agency does too. Doing a few things really well will deliver results and results will give you and your agency greater confidence to tackle more ambitious projects.

To recap

If you’re about to embark on a new marketing strategy and are considering the use of an agency make sure you’re prepared to engage fully in the process, have clear objectives and measure success against them.

Inbound Marketing


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