Most people think it’s all rainbows and butterflies working with a marketing agency; you simply just pass off your marketing to-do list to a team of experts whose job it is to just “get the work done.”
But if your marketing agency is simply doing the work you tell them to do, then they’re doing you a disservice.
At the same time, if they’re leaning heavily on your team to provide all of the creative thinking and industry research, it’s time to move in another direction as well.
Just like any good relationship, both sides must pull their weight and aim toward a common goal. These insider tips can help take your agency partnership to the next level.
Identify a marketing firm that you vibe with.
In Kansas City alone, there are dozens of agencies that you can choose to work with. You need to prioritize what your working relationship will be like. At MAKE, we call it a vibe. Do you get along well with the people you’d work with? Do you feel supported and taken care of? Can you reach out to them with questions that might feel “dumb”? Signing with an agency that “just gets you” is almost as important as working with one that can do the job.
Uncover your goals and problems to solve.
Before you start creating a marketing plan, strategy teams will want a crash course in the challenges your business has faced, both in the marketing world and beyond. And the more information you can share to help your strategy team diagnose the real problems to solve, the easier it will be to tackle those problems.
For example, instead of “we want to make more money” (because, duh), your marketing agency will want to hear problems like “we’re having a hard time converting a client after we give them a free service estimate.” That is something an agency can work with.
Collaborate to identify your target audience.
Sure, a marketing agency will research who your target audience could be. And, of course, you have a general understanding of who you think your target market is.
But bringing both sides of the story to the table (strategy + experience) is where the real magic starts to happen in marketing. In this step, your team and your agency’s team will begin to develop an understanding of who your target audience is now and who it should be in the future.
Uncover your audience’s decision-making factors.
There’s a saying that there are three sides to every story: Yours, mine, and the truth. We can think of marketing in the same way. Your company has its side of the story and your target audience has theirs; what you need to do is figure out how to land somewhere in the middle.
Uncovering what makes your audience tick (we call them our customers’ “inherent truths”) allows you to develop a truth that resonates with both your brand and your audience, which ultimately becomes the target on the wall that you should aim for with all your marketing.
Craft the perfect message to appeal to the target audience.
You’re going to be the expert on what your business does and how to best speak to how it solves a customer’s problem. Your agency will understand how to tailor that message to your marketing channels. Give your agency the freedom to extrapolate that message into the right marketing avenues while also providing clear guidelines of things you’ve learned through years of working with your customer.
While your agency can (and will) take a test-and-learn approach to your audience, the more you can provide in the forefront, the more success and opportunities you’ll find.
Identify the right marketing channels to intercept your target.
Have you used the new app Clubhouse? Do you know how to initiate an affiliate marketing campaign? Your marketing agency does.
Let the experts take the reins on figuring out where your message should land for your target audience. They’ll gut check their ideas against you and your insights, but for the most part, this is the marketing team’s specialty — let them handle it.
Workshop your creative.
We get it. It takes a long time to get to the part that you imagined when you first started working with an agency (probably a lot longer than you think), but all that upfront work builds the foundation for a successful campaign.
Now is when it’s time to make the magic happen: the actual creation of your marketing campaign. Your marketing team will run with this area of the partnership and create beautiful marketing materials that your team can react to.
There’s a delicate balance at play here where both sides try to impress each other while also reaching toward the common goal. So, if something feels a little off base when you receive it, ask first what the thought process behind it was before you nix the idea entirely. At the same time, don’t feel like you need to go with every recommendation as is. It’s called a workshop for a reason.
Allow the agency to set the work free into the wild (strategically, of course) and watch as it does its job. Hold your agency accountable for measuring success in a way that’s both tangible and relevant to your business metrics.
Analyze the results to identify future opportunities.
After the strategy launches, sit down with your agency to go over the results. Let your marketing team lead the data insights but give yourself the freedom to jump in with anything that might seem relevant, like industry insights that might impact the results.
The goal here isn’t just to view the numbers; it’s also to look for details that can make your next marketing strategy that much better. Keep that in mind when reviewing.
Start back at the top for your next campaign.
And then you get to do it all over again next quarter/year/campaign! If that sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. That’s why you have to enjoy (and vibe with) your marketing agency — because you’re going to be working very closely together to strategize, execute and analyze your marketing efforts.
We promise that vibe will shine through in the work you do and result in a more authentic and strategic approach to marketing.
Evan Kirsch is the CEO of MAKE Digital Group, an innovative digital marketing agency that specializes in forward-thinking marketing strategies for small businesses. Over the past 12 years, Evan has navigated clients from coast-to-coast along their pursuit for marketing excellence. To schedule a free analysis of your current marketing strategy, you can email Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org.