Marketing is a key part of any business, with companies allocating approximately 11% of their total budgets towards it. This is a huge sum of money to spend on a single department. As a result, it’s fair to say that decisions about how and where to spend your marketing budget shouldn’t be made lightly. (1)
This leads us to our key question: who should you entrust with such a sum? What values, qualities, skills, or talents should you require from someone you hire to help with your marketing?
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and unfortunately, marketing is no exception. This article will give you some tips for how to choose the right marketing agency for your business.
What is marketing and what does it do?
Per the definition of the American Marketing Association, marketing is an activity, a set of institutions, and they processes they perform. The focus of all of these is on the creation and communication of messages with value, both for your clients or consumers, and society more broadly. At its core then, marketing is about getting your business, products, and services into the consciousness of consumers and having them pay for your products or services. (2)
This is all well and good, but it’s more complex than simply “gaining attention and making money.” Pharma marketing agencies are going to have a different approach than other marketing agencies, for example.
Having an agency that knows your industry can make all the difference. A pharma agency is going to know the ins and outs of regulations and laws surrounding healthcare marketing where as an agency that focuses on e-commerce brands is going to know the ins and outs of getting your brand into the highly competitive ring of online marketplaces.
Understand your own business
Just like the agencies you hope to be represented by, you need to know you own needs and business attitude. Laying out who you are, what you offer, and your target markets are going to put you in much better shape before you ask an agency to help potential customers find you with SEO, or use other resources at their disposal.
Key areas to prepare include:
- A clear and detailed vision: No one knows your business better than you. Present your brand voice, goals, and mission to prospective agencies. Remember, marketing is about persuasion, and the first test of this journey is in your pitch to an agency. (3)
- Reasonable expectations: You aren’t going to expand your business to the farthest ends of China in a week. Manage your expectations, and try not to lose sight of the fact that your campaign is just as much about the journey as it is the destination.
- Budget: As stated previously, approximately 11% of your budget likely goes to marketing. Websites, logos, and blog content all sound great, but can quickly add up. Balance and compromise depending on what areas will best engage your target market, and be open to suggested strategies you may not have considered.
- Data: Bring the metrics on who your customers are, and how they found you, to your first meeting. This is no space for guesswork and there are many online tools that will let you check this with ease.
What to look for in an agency
- Integrity: An agency that demonstrably practices what it preaches will be conducive to your business needs. Make sure the people you’re dealing with are straight with you, and that they’re able to prove they adhere to the standards they claim to.
- Due diligence: An agency shouldn’t be reluctant to share its track record of results with you, especially when claims are made. Transparency in marketing has been found to have a positive correlation with social benefits and hence, sales. Additionally, consumers are increasingly moving to ethical and transparent companies, and your business should not hesitate to also adapt to these trends. (4)
- Assess their skills and strengths: Can they do what you need—website, copy, social media marketing, etc.? If they can’t do everything, don’t fret, but ensure they can do what you’re looking for. As the maxim goes, you can do a few things well, or many things poorly.
- Experience in your target market: Do they know your target demographics and the most suitable channels to target them? Make sure they understand the mindset of your target market, and importantly, know where to find them.
Picking the right marketing agency for your needs is fundamental to the operation of your business. Not only because it occupies such a high proportion of your budget, but also because having a budget at all is dependent on the cyclical relationship between marketing, sales, and the rest of your business. Ensure you understand your business and desired outcomes before you start your search, and look for key indicators of merit across any agency’s capabilities and integrity.
1. “Marketing Budgets Vary By Industry,” Source: https://deloitte.wsj.com/cmo/2017/01/24/who-has-the-biggest-marketing-budgets/
2. “Definitions Of Marketing,” Source: https://www.ama.org/the-definition-of-marketing-what-is-marketing/
3. “How To Write A Marketing Plan,” Source: https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=zd997eheGk8C&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=marketing+plan&ots=jqNWb0AAIH&sig=vwvvYdWJcYdlusrmzfu0ZhQQ_0w&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=marketing%20plan&f=false
4. “Inferring brand integrity from marketing communications: The effects of brand transparency signals in a consumer empowerment context,” Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0148296319307350
5. “Business Development vs Marketing: What’s the difference?,” Source: https://cmox.co/business-development-vs-marketing/