A perhaps tired, but true analogy is the client/service provider dating comparison. There’s the kick-off meeting: like a first date, everyone is on best behavior. The small talk, the exchanges about each other’s commutes and kids, the “how I take my coffee” chatter. Do not be fooled. Whether you’re the client or the marketing company being hired, you may be headed for an association which can make you lose sleep/money/years off your life.
We’ve ALL been there. Like the web guy who lives in Houston (you think) who is your neighbor’s cousin’s friend who disappeared with your deposit and your website login and password.
If your business is hiring a professional marketing company, there are some key things you need to know. And not just about them, about yourselves.
How To Find a Marketing Company
Despite all the high level optimization in the world, it is the rare company that will hire marketing experts based on a Google search alone. (In a technological irony, word of mouth still rules.)
Sure, online, everyone looks friendly with profiles attesting to their super-sonic skills, but said website is nowhere near 3-D enough to provide the complete picture. And it is the same with clients; especially when the first meeting just cracks the lid on what turns out to a big can of crazy! That judge-y and inappropriate comment being said, the fact remains there are some agencies and clients who should not work together. The time to find this out is pre-giddy up, before anything of anyone’s is pointlessly wasted.
What To Expect from a Marketing Company
It is probably easier to say what “not” to expect.
- No marketing companies in Tampa, FL or Philadelphia, PA are going to fix your processes or your personnel issues.
- They are not going to make your product or service better.
- ALL of those things should be operationally and internally addressed first.
The expectation that an agency can make this improvement is a major fail waiting to happen. You need professionals to promote what you have to offer via the appropriate channels to the target market by means of a pre-determined budgetary constraint.
Like the old school hairdresser with the sign tacked on her mirror proclaiming: “This is a comb, not a wand” — a marketing company cannot cure all that ails your company. Marketing is just one aspect of your business. An essential one, one upon which we creatively thrive, but it is still just one.
How to Maximize Engagement
Neither at the kick-off meeting (or ever) is it the right time to turn a box of junk upside down onto the conference table and say “fix this” – although it did work for the guys at NASA in Ron Howard’s Apollo 13.
Come to your marketing kick-off meeting prepared. This may sound obvious, but it is not the norm. If you are ready to hire experts to advance your agenda, then you cannot “set it and forget it” as every infomercial worth its innovation has told you.
That’s why we love a questionnaire devised by our friends at HubSpot. It is actually a Client Intake Form provided to agencies, but the questions are thought-provoking enough we believe it also serves as sort of a prequalification for preparedness. In other words, are you ready as a company to be promoted?
Consider their pointed questions to first get your house in order. If you can’t answer them, you may not yet be tall enough to ride the roller coaster.
- Tell us about your brand and its main products/services.
- What values and beliefs define your brand?
- How do prospects currently find your company?
- What are your marketing goals for the quarter/year?
- What are your biggest marketing challenges?
- What are your biggest sales challenges?
- What does your sales cycle look like?
- What is your estimated monthly budget for marketing?
- Who are your three biggest competitors?
- What makes you think our agency would be a good fit for this project?
No matter what any agency tells you to gain your business, there are no miracle workers. Sweat equity must exist on both sides of the relationship. If you can’t answer these questions, you might not be ready.