You may have a company that is just starting up, you may have a company that is well established but needs a new marketing campaign. Whatever your experience with business, marketing or marketing agencies, we see the same problems crop up with many companies that contact us. They simply don’t have an end game in mind, they think “We probably should be doing some kind of marketing” but haven’t got a plan in mind. Here are a few that we frequently see:
- They don’t have any concrete objectives or goals they want to achieve at the end.
- They don’t know what their budget is (or any idea of a realistic budget in mind).
- They don’t have a time scale.
- Their expectations may be too high for the amount of time and money they are willing to spend.
Now, this is not me griping about clients, and complaining about working, we love what we do (although sighs are frequently echoed around the office). This is just a little guide that will (with any luck) help companies utilise marketing agencies to their full capability and help grease the wheels to a mutually beneficial relationship. At the end of the day marketers are happiest when their client is happy!
Step 1. Start with SMART Objectives/Goals
Before you even think about picking up your phone and ringing an agency think SMART, what are SMART objectives I’m hearing you scream? A SMART objective is 5 things (as I’m sure you clever lot have figured out).
- Specific- Make your goals specific, there is nothing worse than beating around the bush, be decisive, have a number and have a deadline “we want this x amount of sales by x date”.
- Measurable- Make sure your goals can be measured, tracked and analysed. This should be a process done throughout.
- Attainable- By all means make sure your goal is challenging, but also make it doable. There is nothing worse than hearing goals that are simply nonsensical, it will simply just disappoint you.
- Realistic- Be realistic! Marketing is dynamic, you should be too! Results aren’t going to happen straight away, and approaches may need to be tweaked.
- Time-bound- Make sure you have a time scale in mind. Give yourself and everyone a deadline, otherwise you will never feel the pressure of achieving your goals, they will always be somewhere in the future.
Start SMART and you can’t go wrong! Believe me you will thank yourself in the long run, and at the end you will feel a sense of achievement (and you’ll save a few marketers from sleepless nights).
Step 2. Budget
Flexibility is key, your marketing budget is an engine for growth, and the budget you may have discussed privately may be unrealistic. Make sure you’re not setting budgets that are based on last year’s budget, be dynamic, change happens, make sure budgetary spend contributes to a return of investment! The marketing budget is a long term investment for the future growth of your company! Whatever the budget you have in mind, there is always a way to achieve your goals, be flexible and be prepared to review your expectations.
Step 3. Plan (But be flexible)
Plan, plan, plan! I can’t stress how important this is, sit down with your marketing agency and set out a marketing strategy that is realistic, and one that you understand. What avenues are you going to use? Who is your target audience? What content is being used? Flexibility is key, by all means be confident in what you want to achieve, but marketing is dynamic, things change and changes may be needed. The best working environment is one that is of mutual understanding, work together to achieve great results!
Step 4. Communication
We don’t live in the Stone Age, agencies are literally a phone call or email away. If there are any problems feel free to contact them, they will more than happily oblige. And likewise if they need information or content from you, don’t take months to get it to them, it will slow the whole process down, cost you more money, and take you longer to achieve your goals (and will most likely have marketers banging their head against the wall). Another thing to stress is LISTEN TO THEM, if they have recommendations that are going to improve the strategy, don’t be stubborn.
Step 5. Test and Measure
The title is a little misleading, in that there is no “end”, there is only reviewing. It’s a constant cycle of testing your approaches, measuring the outcomes and reviewing the strategies. Marketing is in no way a static linear process, it is one that needs constant attention, constant input and constant change to achieve on-going short and long term goals.
So think with the “end” in mind, don’t think about the short term, and think about the many long term benefits a dynamic, ever evolving marketing strategy will bring.