We hear lots of stories of marketing gone wrong. Finding marketing help that fits your goals and budget can be stressful. We decided to share some lessons learned from our customers so you can find the marketing partner that’s right for you.

#1: It Feels Right

Life is too short to work with people who aren’t a good fit. Authentic relationships are essential to building an effective team and reaching your goals. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Can you see yourself working with this company?
  • Do they challenge you?
  • Did your conversation feel good, helpful, and headed in the right direction?

One of our customers left their previous marketing company because it didn’t “feel right,” not because they were too expensive, or lacked skills. Pay attention to your sense of fit from the beginning and you’ll avoid costly mistakes.

#2: A Shared Vision

Find a company that asks about your goals and challenges in the first meeting. This will help you determine whether the company wants to sell you a widget or will customize a marketing plan that helps you achieve your goals. Look for a marketing partner that takes on your goals as their own and is motivated to achieve them.

After a recent meeting, a business owner told us, “I like that you asked about my vision and my goals.”

#3: Marketing Strategy

Look for a partner who aligns the marketing strategy with your business goals. Beware of marketing plans that lock you into specific tactics with no option to make changes.

You need the flexibility to adjust the marketing strategies and tactics based on what’s happening. For example, if pay-per-click strategies aren’t driving leads, a shift to email marketing may make sense. If a new location or initiative comes up mid-year, you’ll want to modify the marketing plan to support those goals.

A customer purchased a 6-month marketing contract from a high-pressure salesman (not us!) at a conference, not realizing it wasn’t something her organization could use. Take time to think about choosing a marketing partner, and be sure to read all the paperwork.

#4: Aligning Budget with Expectations

You have a marketing budget, and it’s always under siege. Building an affordable marketing plan is a little like house hunting. You probably can’t get your entire wish-list under budget, but consider your must-haves and be as clear as possible about the budget with a prospective marketing partner.

Probably the biggest budget challenge in our conversations with customers is a small, short-term budget with a vision for immediate, amazing results. Talk about budget, results, and timeline together. Sometimes a larger budget can overcome a too-short timeline for results, but not always.

If you are launching a new product with a low level of awareness, make a multi-year marketing plan to grow your business. Consistent marketing funding is key to achieving growth goals.

#5: Measurable Results

You need a return on your marketing investment. Talk with prospective marketing partners about how they track performance and use data to adjust strategies and tactics so you get the results you want without wasting energy and resources. Most agencies use a variety of measurement tools. Ask what they use to analyze data, and ask for a sample report.

How do you know if your online marketing is working? This is a common question, and we could talk about it for hours, but here’s a blog to get you started.

#6: Experience

Most companies hire a marketing agency for two primary reasons:

  • to get the marketing help they need without hiring staff, or
  • to supplement marketing staff who are busy with other priorities.

Experience is an important factor when evaluating a marketing agency. You may want an agency who is familiar with your industry, or one who specializes in your immediate needs, like logo design. Others may prefer a marketing company who can provide a full-range of services like strategic planning, messaging, and campaign execution.

In addition to your conversations, check out a company’s client list, portfolio, and reviews to assess their style, approach, and experience.

#7: Customer Service

The success or stress in working with a marketing agency comes in the day-to-day execution of the work. You need a partner whose work processes fit your team. Ask about how account service is provided:

  • How is work scheduled?
  • Who is the primary contact?
  • Will we have regular meetings?
  • What team members are assigned to my account?

Forming a positive relationship with your agency team, and establishing and maintaining communication between your two organizations, is essential to keep the work on schedule and achieve good results.

#8: Services You Need, or Might

Most of our customers don’t know exactly what services they need. You have business goals; it’s the agency’s job to recommend strategies and tactics to help you achieve them. Access to a variety of tools provides flexibility and convenience. You’ll want to change the plan as new goals emerge or when a tactic over or underperforms.

Ask about the following marketing strategies when evaluating an agency’s services:

  • Branding
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Pay-Per-Click Ads
  • Social Media
  • Email Campaigns
  • Web Development

An ecommerce customer recently said, “We depend on you to tell us what’s next.” Strategy offers a unique combination of services, including marketing, creative and print, web development, and even technology support. So wherever your team is overwhelmed, we can jump in.

What Next?

Marketing is constantly changing, and you have daily pressure to achieve more. We hope these tips from our customers’ lessons learned help you avoid some marketing angst. Strategy is ready to help – we want to see you grow and crush the competition. We invite you to a free consultation. No pressure, contact us today to get started!

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