First scenario. You come up with a brilliant idea for a product or service with a twist, and soon enough your passion project turns into a full-fledged business. You decide to hire a marketing firm to push your organization into the limelight.
Second scenario. Your company’s been running for years, and though you love it, you feel like the business has plateaued recently. You decide to hire a marketing firm to increase engagement.
Do either of the scenarios sound familiar? No matter where your company is in its lifespan, marketing tactics and best practices can always help be that push to an extraordinary organization. But before hiring a marketing firm to promote you, make sure you cross off these four things.
Evaluate your company’s marketing needs and goals.
The first step is to have a comprehensive list of all the things you want to accomplish through a marketing project. Before you even open Google to search for firms near you, reflect on the state of your organization and why you should (or shouldn’t) hire marketing experts. Use this time to make clear goals for your marketing efforts, and then run them by your team.
Frank discussions will lead to fewer misunderstandings and help paint a clearer picture of what you expect the return on investment to be by the time you’re communicating with firms. Often, a company will look to marketing to solve problems that are actually operational issues. Review your goals and ask if issues like customer service, on-time delivery or staff training should be part of the solution, before paying for an advertising campaign that may bring in business and exacerbate operational problems.
Establish your target market.
With your company’s marketing needs and goals firmly in mind, it is time to establish your target market. Hint: it is not everyone. Your instinct might tell you to market to as many people as possible, so you don’t accidentally cut out new business opportunities. This is a faulty logic that leads to an ineffective marketing plan.
Think of target marketing as simply helping identify a priority customer. Who are you willing to spend the most money on to get the highest rate of return? By setting demographic parameters, you can craft the right messaging points and forge a better connection with clients need your products or services.
While “How much is this going to cost me?” is a favorite question to ask firms, it should not be the only question to focus on. Ask questions to establish the scope of their expertise and what they can do for you. Don’t be afraid to probe deep into the firms’ services, background, specialties, awards and even past clients.
Getting a reasonable price point is essential, but numerous other factors add value to your potential partnership. What is their policy on the external cost of digital/print advertising? Do they have a “do not exceed number?” Do they work with certain thought leaders, influencers or specific brands? Are they familiar with your industry?
An experienced firm should take the time, whether through face-to-face meetings, conference calls or emails, to discuss, in detail, your needs and what they can do for you.
Review the contract.
It is easy in the excitement of things to say yes and plunge headfirst into the exciting, new project. But before hiring a marketing firm, you have to be 100 percent sure that the contract covers what you have discussed. The firm can answer all the questions you ask, but if they don’t include the deliverables that you specifically need or required, you will be back to square one. Feel free to ask them to break down what they’ve put down on paper. Remember, it is okay to continue your search for a better fit...so long as you haven’t signed the first contract sent your way.
The bottom line is that you should do your research before hiring any marketing firm. Don’t be intimidated or impressed by any firms’ use of industry jargon, because knowing the right things to say does not equate to mastery of skills. Take your time, and evaluate all your priorities and what different firms can do to promote your organization.
And once you decide on a firm to hire, don’t forget to check out this list of overused marketing words we took the time to explain in plain English!