As information channels and screens proliferate and attention spans shrink to nanoseconds, marketers find they have to work harder to get and keep the eyes, ears and minds of their customers focused on your key message.
Today, it may be all about one-to-one and relationship marketing, but if your messaging is unclear or too long, you risk losing the interest of your customers and prospects. This is the point in marketing where experienced marketing firms or ad agencies can provide a helping hand.
Why, exactly, would you want to work with an agency? Here are a few reasons it might make sense for your company.
1. Serious agencies or marketing firms position themselves as independent, third party communications experts that are in business to solve marketing problems. Independent means they are not tied to any specific advertising or promotion media like a newspaper, television station or online trade journal. Third party means they look at your particular marketing challenge objectively and help you solve it by finding the best message and the best way to deliver that message to the target audience. Advertising agencies should always make sure your messages support your brand and your branding position.
2. Agencies tend to think in ways that company marketers don’t. Marketers may struggle to come up with new themes, ideas and concepts to promote their products and services. While the agency staff may have produced many ideas over the years, your project is new to them and they will bring a fresh approach to the marketing problem. Outside insights can be valuable and helpful and shorten your time to roll out the concept or idea – the solution to the problem. Agencies often use research with customers, prospects and former customers to develop new insights.
3. After working with dozens of clients in dozens of industries, agency professionals may actually have a very good handle (following some download conversations and insights from you) on how your customers think. These creative teams have not lived with the company day and night. In a sense, they don’t know too much and can bring you tantalizing concepts that cut through the clutter and deliver your precise and powerful message with impact. This can be especially helpful in the areas of creative design and Web design.
4. Use an agency on a consulting basis to review your ideas, concepts and plans. You don’t have to form a permanent, contractual relationship to get some great new outside thinking. Ask senior members of the agency staff for a few hours of time to discuss or review your approaches to a new marketing theme, the launch of a new product or just putting a fresh face on your marketing messages. You may come away with some valuable new ideas that will more than pay for the agency’s consulting time. In some cases it could benefit you to start your conversation with the head of the public relations department, since those practitioners tend to have the broadest experience in internal and external communications.
5. As the pace of business life accelerates and marketing staffs become leaner, outsourcing certain marketing tasks may actually help you get more work done. Outsourcing opportunities are especially relevant for repetitive tasks such as producing email marketing materials, Web site and search engine optimization, newsletters, direct mail and collateral, Internet marketing and social media activities. Though the agency professionals may never know as much as you do about your company and its products, they can take on recurring tasks and make sure they are done on time and on budget – letting you focus on your larger, primary marketing objectives. Outsourcing your media buying services could certainly save a lot of staff time, and it could even save you money by making your buys more effective.
Don’t be afraid to contact an agency and talk with principals or senior staffers about your marketing challenges. Most agencies or marketing firms do not charge for one or two meetings with your team to get a download on the issues or challenges you face. And, most provide detailed estimates or proposals that marketers must sign before any work begins. Legitimate agencies are always willing to discuss timelines, deliverables and billings at any time. If you don’t see details you want in the estimates or proposals, ask the agency to add them before you sign off. Don’t work with an agency without signed estimates and timelines so you can avoid performance issues later.