Saturday, 12 November 2011

Marketing Companies – Not All Are Created Equal

Googling “marketing companies” will yield you 8,910,000 results (as at the time of writing this piece). These range from the one-man or one-woman bands, to those with a dozen or more staff. Some of these companies will have been around for a decade or more, while others will have been operating five minutes.

So how do you know you’re hiring the right people to market your business effectively?

What do you look for in a competent marketing outfit?

You might decide you prefer to deal with a local marketing agency for the added convenience of having them on your doorstep. However in practice, you can rarely nip in and check up on their progress without making an appointment. Plus technological advances such as Skype means you can still conduct meetings whenever and wherever suits.

Initially, it’s a good idea to spend a couple of hours or so researching on the Internet. Most marketing companies’ websites will include case studies of the companies they have worked with and will frequently include testimonials.

From your research, draw up a shortlist of 3-5 agencies to meet with. If you’re requesting that they pitch their services to you, bear in mind some agencies will charge a fee for this. Also establish whether the team pitching will be the same people working on your account should you appoint them. Rapport is all important and you don’t want to appoint an agency only to find someone you haven’t been introduced to is in charge of your account.

When inviting agencies to pitch, it is helpful to give them some background to your business, the key objectives you want to achieve and an idea of your budget. You should also provide them with an outline of the sort of contractual agreement you are seeking.

During the meeting/ pitch you will need to consider:

• Is the agency right for you in terms of size? Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

• Which fields are they expert in? Is this compatible with your needs?

• How do they charge? By the hour? Based on results? Are their fees negotiable?

• With regard to fees, how do they measure effectiveness?

• Are they a full-service agency? Or are they limited to traditional advertising elements?

• First impressions (most important) . . . do you like them?

At the end of the pitches, it may become quite apparent who the most suitable marketing company is for you. Either one agency will be obviously better in terms of ‘fit’, or you will have to choose solely on grounds of the likeability factor.

Appointing the right marketing company for your business can be a daunting task. By following the above process you should have a good indication of the agency that would be a good partner for you. Don’t underestimate the power of gut reaction – it has frequently been proven a reliable indicator when determining winning partnerships.

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