How would you describe your arrangement with your current marketing partner? If you’re like most business owners, it probably goes like this:
- You and your team develop a new product or service.
- You tell your marketing agency to sell it.
- You repeat the process with every product cycle.
This “getting the job done” arrangement works well for millions of businesses, but it’s not the only way to leverage your marketing agency’s expertise and experience in the service of your brand. If you have – or seek – a marketing partner that you can truly trust, it might not hurt to get its representatives involved in your early-phase planning.
Beyond “Getting the Job Done”
Quality marketing partners know how to “get the job done.” From tracking inbound leads to identifying new ways to leverage your brand, it’s your agency’s job to improve every step of the sales process. Meanwhile, it’s up to you to develop or provide great products or services that fill needs and exceed expectations. Even the best marketers have trouble selling clunky or inferior material.
These two broad goals don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Strategy sessions that outline plans for new product development, market expansions and other “big picture” issues are certain to involve discussions of your marketing budget and goals. Your agency definitely has something to say about how to maximize the impact of your limited marketing dollars, so why not hear what they have to say?
Establishing Goals and Expectations
Don’t get us wrong. We’re not advising you to invite your marketing agency to every single planning meeting that you run. Marketers have plenty of other things to do and have little input to offer on internal issues like staffing and ordering.
All the same, your agency can be a powerful force for setting realistic goals and expectations at the outset of the planning process. If you have, say, $50,000 to spend on marketing efforts for a particular product over the coming fiscal year, you may not be able to achieve everything you envision. Your agency’s representatives can draw on their experience to help you establish realistic benchmarks and efficient resource-allocation protocols without sacrificing your strategic vision. It’s better to take this step before you’ve gone too far to turn back.
Outside the Box: Using Experience to Gain Insight
Your agency might not have your level of familiarity with the nuts and bolts of your industry, but it should be familiar with at least one business: its own. (If not, why are you still working with them?) Agency pros who have executed dozens or hundreds of successful campaigns have helped their clients navigate all manner of early phase pitfalls. While they can’t guarantee completely smooth sailing, they can offer invaluable advice about the feasibility of a particular strategy and anticipate potential complications that could arise as your business pursues a new set of goals.
We’re not suggesting that you ask your agency to design your next product line or draw up a two-year strategic plan for your business. What you can and should do is request a candid assessment of the potential challenges of translating an early stage plan into a marketable product or service. Your marketing partner has dealt with these issues before, and its advice could prevent cost overruns, minimize delays and boost productivity during the development and marketing processes.
Integrating Marketing and Development
If you truly trust your marketing agency, leverage it for more than just earlystage input and advice. While project-oriented collaborations might generate some additional marketing expenses, they could dramatically reduce the long-term brand damage associated with sloppy product launches, production shortfalls and other costly issues. When you invite your marketing agency to important planning meetings, you leverage the best features of an in-house marketing model without the associated logistical and financial headaches.