This is an interesting question that came up recently whilst we were speaking with a prospect. Having never worked with a marketing agency before, it’s understandable that you don’t know, what you don’t know. If you’ve only ever had internal marketing resource before it can be difficult to know how that translates into an agency relationship, and how to outsource your marketing effectively? If you are not a marketeer yourself but you are responsible for marketing (we’re thinking of some roles such as MD’s, Commercial Directors, Sales Directors, Revenue Directors) being able to truly test and measure any marketing resource can become more challenging. Questions that have come up in these conversations before having been the likes of:
What makes you the right agency?
How will it work having an agency working with our internal marketing team?
What should my internal team work on, and what should I outsource?
Having discussed this in detail with prospects on many different occasions, we thought it would be really helpful to share this with you all. Now for us, sales and marketing are hand-in-hand functions. Ultimately, they are the revenue engine for your business and therefore they have to work together, not separately, for optimal effectiveness. For this reason, we find it is important to begin with your business aspirations and direction.
Do you know your direction?
The level of detail in answer to this question varies hugely amongst different businesses. The automatic response for many is, growth. A direction, but for us not a very clear one. What we’re looking to understand from your direction is:
- What is your overall business looking to achieve? An increase in 20% revenue on last year? An increase in 30% profits on last year? Sustained 10% year–on–year growth? These are all examples, but by providing us something much more tangible to understand your level of business growth, gives us important insight into the mindset of your business.
- Next up is sales. What are your sales team looking to achieve? What are their targets and how is this split up? What percentage is from retaining revenue, new business and customer upsell/cross sell strategies? This is more important information for a marketer. The sales targets will link back to that overall business target, and in the same way your marketing targets and activity should support your sales targets. If we know that more than half of your targets are focused on client upsell/cross sell strategies, then we need to work with your sales team to target this market. In that example, we may focus in on CRM focused email marketing, providing Account Managers with the sales collateral required to help upsell/cross sell conversations, and look at web traffic behaviour utilising practices such as re-marketing to your current customer base.
- This all then comes down to understanding your direction with your marketing. As mentioned above, your marketing targets and activity should clearly align to sales, thus the overall business. But you need to clearly set out what marketing should be working towards. How many new business leads do your sales team need? So, what are the channels to be utilised to obtain these leads? Can you clearly see a conversion rate from previous activity of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to SQLs (sales qualified leads) to then proposal and purchase? If so, what is that typical conversion rate? This will inform us of how many MQLs are needed to feed your sales team. If past data tells you that traffic to your website converts at x% depending on the channel, how much more traffic do you need to attract to the website to meet the targets your sales team have? If you have personas for your target audience and you know that one is lower value but required continually to help run rate and one is high value but longer term pipeline – you need to create unique strategies to be reaching both of these concurrently to maximise effect.
We’d recommend being prepared with understanding your direction before detailed conversations with an agency, as this will help the agency to really understand what you need from them. You can then move on to understanding ways of working with agencies.
Ways of working with agencies
Every agency will be slightly different when it comes to this, but we’re going to give you the example from us at Roots to Market.
We have clients who utilise us typically in 3 different capacities:
- They look to us to create their marketing strategy and then to deliver it for them. This maybe the case if they have no marketers in-house and don’t wish to hire in-house, or if they have junior marketers who would really benefit from the support of an agency to work alongside.
- They already have a marketing strategy defined by their Marketing Director or Commercial Director and they are looking for an outsourced team to deliver against it as they don’t have any other marketers in-house and don’t wish to hire in-house.
- They have an internal marketing team who have defined and are delivering against the marketing strategy, but they have an element of the activity that they don’t have resource for or don’t have the specific skills in-house to execute themselves. In these cases, we slot into their marketing team to deliver an aspect of their marketing alongside the rest of the team.
Each of these examples will pull on different members of our team and their skill sets and will require different approaches. But from our experience we’ve found it vital to be as flexible as possible and cater for different client needs.
We’d recommend exploring what an agency can offer you in terms of ways of working from the outset to ensure that it will work with your current business set up and what you had in mind.
A final thing to then consider is…
Understanding how to measure the success of the relationship
Marketing is an investment after all, so although you may not get to the numbers within this conversation being able to understand the ‘how’ of the measurement is required.
We often find that within this part of the conversation we discuss KPI’s/targets that can be set before activity begins between us and the client, reporting methods and frequency, examples of other successes, ‘what good looks like’, how detailed and integrated the reporting can be, etc.
It may take time to agree and sign off on all this detail to your relationship but starting the conversation so that both parties understand where each other are coming from allows you to go away and further build on this.
We’d recommend being honest and transparent from the beginning on this measurement of success. It can really damage a relationship, if goal posts are drastically moved during activity because they were simply incorrect from the outset. There will be aspects of marketing which are still more difficult to measure such as offline advertising, but this should be discussed before the activity begins to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Get in touch
We hope that if you’re wondering what to consider when looking to outsource your marketing for the first time, then this has been helpful.
At Roots to Market, we offer tailored, blended services of inbound and direct marketing, automation and complete tactical campaigns, dependent on clients’ needs. If you’d like to talk more about how we can help you with your outsourced marketing activity, get in touch today on 01392 796702. You can also read more about our results here.