There are many instances in which a CEO is smart to contract work to a 3rd party marketing agency. However, there are many situations in which contracting a third party can inhibit company growth and burn through your company’s capital. Be sure to pick the right partner to help you spread awareness about your company.
Here’s some tips to consider before you ink the contract.
Don’t hire a marketing agency until your consumers love your product.
Understanding your consumer market is the job of the CEO and drives the strategic plan. Hiring a marketing team before you have developed a product that your consumers love is unnecessarily expensive and can yield below average results. Test your beliefs about who your consumer is and why they love your company. Try out your product or service and get feedback, this will add more valuable insights to your company’s next step than any brainstorming session.
Then, you can start vetting marketing agency’s who will help communicate the vision of the CEO and the value the company provides to consumers that would benefit from knowing about the company.
Don’t forget to use your most valuable marketer – the customer.
There are three types of media that a company can create:
- Earned media – others talking about the value your company creates. (Social media shares, C2C conversations)
- Owned media – self-created content / re-contextualized 3rd party content. (articles, video, news coverage, social media)
- Paid media – any media that is paid (PPC / PPM advertising, Branded content, Display ads)
Earned media is by far the most valuable. Getting a recommendation from a trusted friend or colleague immediately establishes the trust and rapport of your business with a potential customer. You can’t beat it. If your customers aren’t talking about the value you add to their lives, who will? If your target audience isn’t talking about your company, brainstorm on what else you could do to improve your value add to get them talking. More importantly, test your hypothesis. What works, what doesn’t? Failing often is ok – just fail fast and move onto your next idea.
As you brainstorm, remember that the customer knows why they want things, but not what they want. Innovators such as Henry Ford and Steve Jobs have iterated intensively this reality. Customers often don’t know what they want, but they know why they want it.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” – Henry Ford
“A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” – Steve Jobs
Learn the why, innovate the what, market the why.
Identify red flags in the marketing agency’s approach.
1. Consumers buy because of why a product works, not how it works. Marketers that do not understand that action is driven by emotion, not logic, will not be able to engage your target market. If a marketing agency develops your company’s pitch around the ‘how’ of your product, keep searching.
2. Ask the marketing agency you’re considering how they measure their Key Performance Indicators. How do they answer – this will tell you a lot about how they think. Is the goal to drive web traffic, gain a social media following, or to drive revenues? Driving traffic to your website and increasing your following on social media is great, but if it doesn’t drive revenues, what’s the point?
3. How does the agency market themselves? Do they use excessive jargon and struggle to explain their strategy and methodology? Is the design of their website poor? If they cannot communicate their value to you clearly, concisely, and effectively, do not trust them to communicate your value to your customers.
The decision to hire a marketing agency can make or break your company. If you believe it’s time to hire a marketing agency, be sure to do your homework and hire the best.