If you’re like most entrepreneurs, your business is your pride and joy. You’ve tirelessly poured your passion, time and resources into giving your business the opportunity to grow and thrive, especially in a particularly fierce and competitive market. As apprehensive as you might be about placing your “baby” in the hands of an outsider, there comes a time in many entrepreneurs’ careers when they realize that they simply cannot do it all on their own.
That’s where marketing agencies can come into play.
Marketing agencies are equipped with teams of experts in a variety of digital sectors that your business may need to succeed in today’s online marketplace. Hiring a marketing agency can be a huge step for business owners — especially since this step can easily be met with complications if approached without any preparation. Luckily, there are a number of elements you can prepare ahead of your first meeting with a marketing agency to help set your business up for success from the get-go.
1. A Clear Vision
There’s no one better qualified to establish the vision for a business than the business owner themselves. With this in mind, it’s pivotal that you attend your first meeting with a marketing agency with a clear vision for your business already established.
The purpose of a marketing agency is to elevate your brand — not to determine your brand for you. In order to most effectively convey your vision for your business, have these elements in mind prior to hiring a marketing agency:
• A brand voice: Are you looking to set a professional tone with your copy and social media presence, or would a fun, witty voice resonate better with your target audience?
• A mission: Why did you create your business? Which pain points will your product or services alleviate for your customers?
• Short- and long-term goals: “Winging it” simply isn’t an option for entrepreneurs. Where do you see your business six months after launching your first marketing campaign? In one year? In five years?
2. Realistic Expectations
Expectation management is a key component of any aspect of running a business, but especially when launching your first campaign with a marketing agency. It’s likely that you’ve decided to work with a marketing agency to elevate your business quicker than you’d be able to do on your own. However, it’s important to remember that overnight success stories are incredibly rare — even with the rapid pace of the digital sphere.
Before you kick off your campaign, be sure that you and your marketing agency are on the same page regarding expectations and deliverables within a certain time frame. As a general rule of thumb, give your campaign three months to gain traction before deciding that any of the marketing strategies being employed are or are not working. Managing your expectations at the beginning of your campaign requires a great deal of patience, but being realistic about your business’s growth trajectory can allow your team to better manage data over time in order to improve.
3. A Budget
Logos, websites, blog posts and videos. As multifaceted as the digital marketplace tends to be, picking and choosing which elements you want to integrate into your marketing campaign can feel like an all-you-can-eat buffet. However, if you meet with a marketing agency without first determining how much you’re willing to spend on the totality of your campaign, you’ll likely be hit with a hefty blow of sticker shock.
While a marketing agency can make suggestions regarding which areas of your business are worth the investment to improve, it’s ultimately up to you to decide the base point for your marketing budget. New businesses, in particular, may need to front-load their marketing budgets in order to gain steam moving forward, but expect to allocate approximately 12% of your annual revenue on marketing efforts.
From there, decide which areas of your business could benefit most from a greater portion of your marketing budget. Larger elements such as a beautiful, functional website, for example, can take up a great deal of your overall budget. However, your potential return on investment can make it worthwhile in the long run.
4. Data Tracking
When it comes to measuring the success of your business, there’s no room for guesswork. You might think you know where the majority of your web traffic, calls and emails are coming from, but the numerical data behind these elements might tell a surprisingly different story.
Before you meet with a marketing agency, begin tracking data from both your website and your social media ads, if you’re running them. Having these concrete figures available prior to launching your campaign will allow the marketing agency you’re working with to determine a logical starting point from which to measure the success of their efforts. It will also allow you to allocate your budget strategically by emphasizing those areas that have proven to be lacking.
Making the decision to work with a marketing agency could be the turning point that elevates your business to digital success in a highly competitive marketplace. Taking the necessary steps to prepare ahead of your first meeting can help set your business up for a long, rewarding and successful collaborative relationship both on and offline.