A few months ago, I published a blog about how finding an Inbound Marketing agency is quite similar to dating, and, truthfully, each topic in that blog could stand alone as a post of its own.
One specific point is of paramount importance as you navigate the process of finding the marketing agency of your dreams. Nothing in this blog post has anything to do with a marketing agency, however – it has everything to do with YOUR company.
Before you exert any effort to find an agency to manage your marketing, whether it's for a specific marketing service or your complete marketing efforts, it’s crucial to be honest about your company’s ability provide commitment, time, and investments.
If You Build It, He (They) Will Come
The movie Field of Dreams had it about 50% right as it relates to marketing. Yes, if you build it, people will come – that is, they'll engage with your company or become a lead through marketing efforts – but there are two things that you must be very clear on first. 1) It takes time to build and launch a marketing campaign and 2) it takes time to attract the “they” you want to come.
Don't assume that a strategic marketing campaign starts with your current status, because it doesn't. In many cases, a marketing agency needs to fix content and structural website errors, re-optimize your current content and website performance, and re-structure or re-purpose your marketing materials – all before new content is generated and released.
Think of it like a bicycle with a broken chain. No matter how awesome your paint job is, no matter how much you clean it up, no matter how much you invest in upgrading its parts, the bicycle still has a broken chain. To move forward, you have to pay equal attention to all facets of your bicycle before “they” can ride it.
“They” means your ideal client, and attracting "they" is not an overnight process. To attract quality leads, you need meaty, solid content that answers their questions or provides solutions. You also need to create offers that will intuitively lead “they” through the buyer’s journey. Before you can attract the right people to engage with your company, you need to invest in the complete marketing process.
Now do you see what I mean when I say it takes time? The fruits of your marketing labor will come and will pay off in spades, but only in time. Unless your marketing goals are minuscule, achieving them within 30 days is very unrealistic and extremely unlikely. Truthfully, for optimizations and efforts to work, you’re looking at a 6-month timeline.
Before you engage with a marketing agency, make sure your thought leaders, management team, and invested parties know that engagement with an agency takes time to be effective and offer a return on your investment.
Marketing is a Commitment
Commitments go much further than signing on the dotted line and paying an invoice. That's the easy part. The commitment I’m speaking of is your commitment to provide the marketing agency with what it needs to make your marketing work for you.
Understandably, with outsourcing your marketing to another company there is considerable onboarding time that your company – specifically, your thought leaders and management team – needs to provide. You have to teach your marketing agency about your company voice and brand, provide content and insight to help them market you, approve and provide marketing deliverables, and, of course, be present during meetings, brainstorming sessions, and strategic planning.
For your company to be successful, your team has to be on the same page, same line, and same word with a marketing agency. You have to be fully committed and invested in working hand-in-hand with an agency to ensure that projects are completed, approvals are received, deadlines are met, and that your company has a cohesive relationship and fluid path of communication. Without this commitment, your chances of a successful relationship will plummet.
Your Work is Never Done
Consistency is key. Whether your sales cycle is transactional or 36 months long, you cannot stop and start your marketing efforts. It takes time to generate leads, and if you stop lead generation, you’re essentially telling your ideal customers that you’re not interested in earning their business.
In addition, constantly tweaking your marketing content, strategy, and objectives is the key to success. The course of doing business is always evolving, and the second you stop evolving as a company is the second you lose your chance of being an industry leader.
Before you move forward with a marketing agency, make sure you’re not viewing it as a quick way to fix a slow period in your company’s roadmap. Marketing is a long haul activity, not a Band-Aid or a temporary boost to fill your sales team’s pipeline.
You must also make sure that your company is completely onboard and is well aware that time, resources, commitments, and investments are mandatory for any successful relationship with a marketing agency to bloom.