Like many business owners, you may not be an expert at every job function. Instead, you’re savvy enough to hire someone with the know-how to get the job done so you can focus on what you do best: Running your business.
You may have hired an outsourced marketing agency to take care of your marketing needs, but that doesn’t mean you should step back completely. The quickest way to succeed—and to learn the ropes along the way—is to foster a collaborative partnership with your marketing partners while you work hand-in-hand to reach your goals. Here’s how.
When you hire a marketing agency, it may be tempting to hand over your pre-determined marketing projects and have them dig in. Not so fast. It’s essential that they have a clear understanding of your company’s vision and your short- and long-term goals. Take the time to get them as excited as you are, and it will pay off with a more creative—and more effective—marketing plan.
Sometimes employees will bristle at the idea of an outside agency coming in, especially if they have been handling some of the marketing functions up to that point. The best way to mitigate this potential issue? Have your marketing agency meet with your team members to get their perspective—and form a good working relationship. Introduce them over a casual lunch, and let them know how important they are to the success of the partnership. After all, your agency will likely depend upon your employees for information along the way, and this will go much more smoothly if your team members don’t see the outside guy as a threat.
When your marketing agency presents their plan to you, be sure it contains crystal-clear roles and expectations. For example, they may propose a weekly email newsletter to existing and prospective customers. Make sure you agree on who will plan the content, who will supply the background information, who will write the copy, who will design it, who will approve it and a timeline for when this will all get completed. Do this for every tactic in the plan, and you boost your chances of a successful partnership.
Then comes the most important part: Sticking to it. Having a buttoned-up plan is great, but it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on if you don’t honor your roles. For instance, if you have three days to approve the email newsletter but don’t get to it for a week, you set back your entire marketing plan. Plus, your agency’s hands will be tied while they wait for you, which equals lost time, money and potential revenue.
Your agency’s marketing plan may contain ideas that are outside your comfort zone—blog posts, bus wraps, giveaway events, social media contests—and that’s a good thing. You hired an outside firm to handle marketing precisely because you aren’t an expert in it. Be sure to approach new ideas with an open mind and not with fear. Ask questions when you don’t understand something, and you’ll learn something in the process.
If you see red flags when you’re working with your marketing agency, speak up. After all, you know your customers best. If you truly believe something in your marketing consultant’s plan is off the mark, let them know as early in the process as possible. If you’ve taken the time to build a strong partnership from the beginning, this will be an easy task.
Try saying, “While this is a great idea, we’ve learned that our customers don’t respond well to this kind of promotion. What other ideas do you have?” Then let their creativity flow as they come up with an alternative tactic.
Sure, you’re paying your outsourced marketing agency, so you’re the client. But just as you would with your employees, be sure to take the time to thank them for their hard work. Chances are they’ve worked with plenty of clients along the way who haven’t made the effort to do so, and they’ll appreciate it.
By taking the time and energy to cultivate a positive partnership with your outsourced marketing agency, you boost your chances of meeting your goals—and padding your bottom line.