Having options is good. But when you’re comparing dissimilar things or don’t have the same grading scale for all the options, it can become difficult or, worse, invaluable. Selecting the right marketing firm is no different.
No marketing firms were created equal – even though it may seem like they are all alike. They may provide similar services or functions, but most have a specialty, and all have a different approach.
The most important points to consider when looking for a marketing firm can be summed up into three categories: their ability to understand your company’s goals and values (and subsequently tie all strategies to those), their creative strategy and innovation (professional, attention-grabbing designs supporting your brand not just “flashes in a pan”), and, the most important, the firm’s ability to articulate an accurate return on investment (you should always know what you’re getting out of the relationship and their efforts).
- Understanding your company’s goals and values seems like a pretty obvious prerequisite for signing a contract with a marketing firm. But for some, this isn’t even considered. A deep understanding of your brand and company’s goals is how a firm determines strategies to help you reach them. Otherwise, marketing is just putting out messages and clamoring for attention without any connection to your bottom line and potentially misaligned with your culture and/or brand voice. It’s also important that a firm aligns with your values. Having conflicting values could cause strained relationships, which is bad for business.
- A firm’s ability to strategize while remaining creative and innovative is vital to a successful campaign(s). Strategy is important. It is the roadmap to a marketing campaign; it determines what messages are used and how they get to your audience(s). Tactics are the steps in executing the strategy. However, a strategic plan can still fail if there’s no creativity (much like a flashy campaign can fail if it’s not targeted or strategic), so innovation, smart designs, and overall creativity are critical skills a qualified marketing firm should provide. Selecting a firm that can do both strategy and creativity will determine whether you meet or exceed your end goals that affect your bottom line.
- Articulating a return on investment (or ROI) is something highly debated among marketing leadership in-house, marketing firms, and beyond. Some say marketing is measured by sales. Others say it’s just “awareness” or qualitative, and there aren’t quantitative measures. Others still will say you can’t measure all components of marketing to determine their value or return on investment. That is completely FALSE. Every marketing effort, campaign, and tactic can be tracked and measured! Find a firm that accurately explains to you where your money is going, how those efforts are working (big picture and by campaign or channel), and what return it generated for you. Not only does this show you what you’re getting, but this level of tracking allows for mid-stream campaign updates that can not only save you from wasting money but also create greater returns. (We’d all like that!)
Of course, a marketing firm gets bonus points if they have industry-specific experience and/or location connections. Industry-specific knowledge can be helpful if your business operates in a highly regulated area and/or if there are specific best practices that could help your marketing work best from the start (versus a learning curve).
Local connections can be very valuable if your business is opening a new location away from your headquarters and you need grassroots connections or local media attention. In-market or local marketing firms should know all the influencers, key players, and journalists.
Selecting a marketing firm is an investment. In a world of options, select the one that makes the most sense for your company’s goals, values, and needs.
We are proud to be known as a marketing partner to businesses, the partner that helps them grow. If we can help you with marketing, communication, digital media, etc., as a fractional/virtual CMO and/or marketing department, let us know. We’d be happy to help – and we’ll be certain to show the ROI for it! 😉