The Wild West of Marketing
Firstly, marketing a service or product is no mean feat. Business owners, directors and teams spend time, money and resources hoping to get results in the wild west of marketing. Many sieve through online and offline channels panning for the gold of engaged prospects to find the nugget of “sales won.” Sadly, those prospectors may feel like they have walked into the Wild West of Marketing.
In these marketing plains, there are many a sharp shooter. Marketing agencies and bands of marketing ‘experts’ ride in on their trusty steeds to burst through your saloon (or meeting room) doors with promises of gold (returns) for a monthly fee.
Fit for purpose
In a recent survey, marketing agency efficacy was rated just 5.7 out of 10, where 10 denotes fit for purpose. This is important because 74% of multinationals are reviewing their agency arrangements.
How can business owners and managers get the right external marketing support for their needs? Outsourcing to the wrong agency puts you in the 74% reviewing their contracts, potentially undoing your hard work and leading to business decline.
To help you spot the cowboys from the deputies, Think Beyond issued “wanted” signs for outlaw agencies in the wild west of marketing. Call 01625 682110 if you spot one of our most wanted.
3 signs you should review your marketing agency arrangement
Here are three tell-tale signs that your current marketing outsourcing needs revisiting:
Wanted: Ill-fitting marketing strategy or no strategy
Firstly, many agencies rely on their clients to distill their marketing strategy or adopt a “one size fits all” by recycling previous approaches. Both of these options are open to pitfalls. If an agency fails to understand the brief or opts for a pre-made solution, the result can be an ill-fitting marketing campaign that wastes budget and leads to ineligible contacts.
Your business is unique and your marketing agency’s plan should reflect this. Ask your agency how they intend to grow your business and demonstrate results. If you serve a local area and they suggest an inclusive SEO strategy to rank for generic terms across the UK with backlinks, run for the foothills. It sounds like they don’t understand you or your customer.
Wanted: No experimentation
Secondly, marketing is a science and as such is open to experimentation. Any good external marketing service should be testing and trying out different approaches to help maximise results.
Within the world of paid search, this could be creating campaign experiments to test bidding methods or landing page split tests in Google Ads. For Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), revisiting meta descriptions could help to boost rankings.
In summary, your agency should be doing it and reporting on it. Even an unsuccessful experiment should be reported on so that your agency can share the learning and as a result, move forward. The fear of failure should not stop the marketing experimentation train.
Wanted: Obscure data and ever-growing fees
Thirdly, today’s marketer must make sense of data from many touchpoints and translate it into business opportunities. Your agency support should be able to explain, in plain language, the data you need to make business decisions. Therefore, don’t be dazzled by complex terminology and fancy reports that offer little data insights.
Be wary of handing complete control to an external partner in terms of data, logins and reporting. Whilst it is tempting to let an outside source manage everything, in some instances we have heard of agencies holding companies to ransom if the relationship turns sour. Always ask for references and check out a company’s case studies.
Also, we have met companies who complain that new charges are often added to their monthly invoice for services outside of the agreed terms. The additional charges quickly add up and leave you with little control over your budget. Discuss every imaginable cost that may occur and be clear on your terms to keep those purse strings tight.
Marketing gold with a true marketing expert
If you are thinking of moving agency or hiring a marketing expert, examine they could compliment your in-house marketing capability. Specifically, a marketing consultant is a great place to start but make sure they are trained in marketing.
And why? Because a qualified consultant sees the bigger picture and partners with you to define, create and execute a marketing strategy that works for you. A consultant does not stop at the campaign or content frontier but considers all trails to get the best return on marketing spend. In summary, a consultant can help you get to the gold faster.
For example, a design agency may consider it “job done” to provide high quality graphics. However, the wrong messaging, circulation to the wrong channels or targeting segments that don’t matter to you may lead to fool’s gold.
Marketing consultants provide a strategic backbone based on:
- Business objectives
- PESTLE and SWOT analysis alongside a clear understanding of competitive position
- Identification of KPIs
- Breakdown of market segments and firmographic/buyer persona details
- Creation of key messaging
Ultimately, having a marketing expert on board may mean you can bring marketing activities in from the wilderness. This is a win-win for strategy and budget as the fee is outweighed by reduced costs of multiple marketing agencies. In Cheshire and the North West, agencies typically charge £24,000 per annum per service. These may include PPC, SEO, graphic design and affiliate marketing, which totals £96,000 per annum.
Beware: marketing strategy is not just liquor
When you run into some marketing bandits, how often do they use the term ‘marketing strategy’? As ubiquitous as liquor in the saloon, many people working in the wild west of marketing use ‘marketing strategy’ to sound more qualified in marketing. In reality, marketing strategy is the marketing logic by which a business unit achieves its’ marketing goals i.e. to achieve marketing growth.
The strategic goals of a business, aligned marketing goals and a marketing plan to achieve them are complex. A marketing strategy involves market research, value propositions, setting goals, defining strategies, marketing mix and a marketing plan to measure and evaluate. Writing content, designing a logo, making a video, building a website or posting to social media are just one activity laid out in your marketing plan. Beware, these are not a marketing strategy.
Reward: marketing strategies that work
Consequently, partnering with a marketing consultant can help send your business into orbit. A Think Beyond expert packs extra punch as you are guided by a Chartered Marketer. As one of 3,000 Chartered Marketers, we provide up-to-date marketing strategy support rooted in data science. Furthermore, our dedicated team execute the agreed strategy and provide in-house marketing training.
Contact Think Beyond today
Also, why not book a free one hour consultation by completing our 60-second contact form.