Your company is engaged in a relationship with a marketing agency, and you’re feeling optimistic about the opportunity. You know how you’re going to provide your potential leads and customers with the insight and enterprise they crave – not to mention that you’re on your way to taking your business to the next level.
Though the weight is on the marketing agency to complete the proposed action items, tasks, and strategic input, your company is not without responsibility in this new found relationship.
Truthfully, to get the best results from your marketing agency, the responsibility rests equally on your shoulders. For a marketing agency and a company to have a productive and profitable relationship, both parties need to be on the same page, the same line, and the same word regarding accountability of content, strategy, goals, and expectations.
Working with a marketing agency is a big step, both organizationally and financially. To create a relationship that breeds success, you must understand these three crucially important, but sometimes undervalued, points of interest.
Or, how to get the best results from your marketing agency:
Blast Open the Lines of Communication
When you hire a marketing agency, look at it as if you’ve expanded and grown your company. Though the marketing agency staff aren't your employees, they are working for you to grow and market your company. If you don’t communicate with your marketing agency about what’s going on with your business, they cannot effectively do their job. Am I suggesting that you share confidential information? No, but you should share information that is of value to their efforts and helps them to understand the evolution of your organization.
A general rule of thumb is that you should share with your marketing agency what you would share with your employees – the good, the bad, and the indifferent.
Here are some ideas of valuable information to share:
- That you joined a networking organization
- Winning an award or special recognition
- Not hitting sales or profit goals for the quarter
- An economic downturn or a struggle that may prohibit new sales from closing
- Expanding to a new product or service line
- Hiring a new employee
It may seem silly to share information such as this, but it helps the marketing agency get a better understanding of what’s happening below the surface and typically offers more creative ways to market your company or to help to get you through growing pains and slumps.
Be Honest About Lead Generation
Lead generation takes time, and there are a lot moving parts, including content generation, website optimization, lead nurturing, and influencer targeting. Once leads are beginning to generate, it’s crucial for you, as a company, to be very honest with the marketing agency about the caliber of those leads – that is, whether they’re qualified or unqualified leads.
Qualified leads are right in the breadbasket of your target market. They’re the right size, you're connecting directly with the decision maker, and the content your marketing agency created is navigating your lead through the Buyer’s Journey.
Unqualified leads, on the other hand, are any combination of factors that cause a lead to not be a good fit for your company: they may be too big, too small, of the wrong industry, or outside of your target geographic area. You also may mistake a qualified lead for what we affectionately call “tire kickers,” which are leads that really have no interest in buying or engaging in your services; they’re simply looking for whatever information and free services that they can find.
If leads are not panning out, closing, or producing results after you’ve done your due diligence in the sales process, you need to communicate that information with your marketing agency. It’s the responsibility of your marketing agency to tweak their efforts to produce better leads for your company – but it’s your responsibility to communicate your results.
An Understanding of Marketing vs Sales: SMarketing
No, I didn’t just create a new word – SMarketing is a real thing! SMarketing is the cohesive alignment of the sales and marketing team, and its absence is arguably the largest point of contention between companies and marketing agencies.
A misalignment between marketing and sales is not rare, whether it's between a company and a marketing agency or an internal marketing and sales team. Marketing will argue that they’re generating leads and sales is not doing their job, and sales will argue that they’re doing their job, but marketing isn't setting them up with good leads. To create synergy between marketing and sales, you must use SMarketing.
One of the most successful ways to create SMarketing between the two sides is to create a Service Level Agreement, or an SLA. An SLA is simply a mutually agreed upon goal between marketing and sales, typically based on the number of leads to be delivered and the individual expectations of the sales and marketing teams.
For example, say the goal is to produce 20 leads per month. Once the leads are delivered to sales by the marketing agency, and while the marketing agency continues to nurture the leads, it’s the duty of the sales team to follow-up and navigate the lead through the sales cycle. During this process, marketing and sales are consistently communicating – sharing stop-gaps, concerns, and specific problems or questions that the lead has faced. This will help the marketing agency continue to generate solid, qualified leads. In addition, working so closely together gives marketing and sales the opportunity to see each other’s perspectives, which fosters a newfound appreciation for each other.To create a successful relationship with your marketing agency, remember to be forthright about what’s going on your company, provide valuable feedback, be honest with leads and expectations, and constantly work together to strengthen the sales and marketing alignment. A cohesive, seamless relationship takes time to foster, but I guarantee you – the results are worth every second of the effort!