Ah, the holidays – that special time of year when we celebrate family, friends, traditions, and everything in between. In a more personal context, our ideal setting might look like chestnuts roasting over an open fire, family time around the tree or watching holiday movies in our PJs. Professionally, it may be wrapping up the year with strong numbers, great reviews or perhaps a raise! (Santa? Are you hearing this?)
In reality, your personal time may be more likely spent running around buying gifts for everyone you know, slaving over extravagant dinner recipes, or worrying about meeting the needs of everyone during a long weekend visit. And at work, you might be balancing too many business events, too much punch at a party, or, if you’re anything like our outsourced marketing agency, managing quite the lengthy to-do list.
Moreover, you probably relate to many executives we talk to around this time of year, who are busy drafting an extensive outline that fleshes out the details of next year’s marketing plan. If hiring an agency to serve as your outsourced marketing department is something you’re considering, we can help address what puts an agency on either the naughty or nice list, so you can make a quality decision and begin 2016 with a marketing triumph! Here’s what you should take into account:
Nice outsourced marketing agencies…
- Are transparent and flexible. Nice agencies know that an SMB’s priorities may need to shift in the middle of executing a strategic initiative. If you do need to change direction, your partner should have your back and be able to adapt accordingly. What’s more, your agency partner should also share with you the impact that change will have on your current plan of attack so there are no surprises ahead.
- Are strong communicators. Strong communication is the key to managing an agency/client relationship. Launching a communication plan that’s comfortable for both sides at the onset of the engagement – and adjusting this as the relationship progresses – will allow both you and your outsourced marketing department to feel at ease and get what you need to succeed.
- Provide insight and fresh ideas. Most likely, you’re hiring an outsourced marketing agency as a source of expertise currently missing from your in-house staff’s skill set. An agency on the nice list will certainly understand how to introduce fresh ideas into your company’s marketing mix, as well as implement new twists and build on the core activities that are already integral to your marketing.
- Help your business achieve its goals. Of course, it’s important that your marketing plan directly addresses the challenges your company faces, and the goals it seeks to accomplish. A nice agency will ask the right questions geared towards how they can help you achieve these goals – and if you’re not sure about the details, they’ll be able to help you define realistic goals based on a combination of analytics, trends and the expert advice you provide about your specific industry. It’s the agency’s job to make sure the recommended activities support your goals. Or else they get a lump of coal in their stocking!
And speaking of coal…
Naughty outsourced marketing agencies…
- Are inflexible. A naught outsourced marketing department is rigid when it comes to setting a plan in place. They don’t want to deal with a sudden change in direction or unexpected requirements. Unfortunately, this is not a business reality most SMB owners and marketers would be happy with.
- Keep you guessing. Tsk, tsk… those naughty agencies are not great project managers or communicators, and they don’t provide the transparency and organization that businesses need. If you’re constantly in the dark, confused about what your agency is saying and doing, and deliverables aren’t being produced on time, you’ve teamed up with someone on the bad list.
- Always say yes. Interestingly, naughty agencies believe in the mantra that the customer is always right, and that you know your audience best. While this doesn’t sound so bad, it’s probably not the reason you hired an outsourced marketing agency in the first place. If you wanted to drive all activities, you would have taken on an assistant. A proactive agency partner should not only be able to lead marketing discussions, but feel comfortable pushing back on ideas that simply aren’t working.
- Do not engage with your business. Naughty agencies keep their distance; they don’t get too attached to your business. They may even frequently switch account team members, believing any of their talented marketers can fill in for another. While this can work if they are providing different skill sets, ultimately a strong level of consistency will benefit both sides. You want to feel like your agency is a real part of your company – so avoid the non-committal types who do not take the time to get to know your business.
We hope this holiday season brings you LOTS of nice things. Quality time with your loved ones and career success in the coming year. Some fun would be nice, too. Check out the fun we had creating these comic strips!
Ready to learn more about outsourced marketing options? Check out the link to 7 Signs You’re Ready to Outsource Your Marketing.