You’ve built a brand. You’ve made some initial sales. You want to take things to the next level.
Congratulations—you’re a great candidate for working with a full service marketing agency.
Or are you?
In order to get the most out of this ongoing marketing investment, you’ll want to make sure that a few basic business requirements have been met.
Based on Folsom Creative’s own client experiences, here are our suggestions for the foundational elements you should have in place before working with any marketing agency.
#1: Have Solid Cash Flow.
If you think you have a great business idea but you haven’t been able to monetize it after putting in a reasonable amount of work, you may be in trouble.
After all, a marketing agency can’t effectively monetize a bad idea—they’re much better put to work on a good or great idea where your in-house marketing team may be lacking. And if you consult with an agency who claims they can pull a complete 180 in terms of success, don’t walk—RUN.
#2: Have an Established Marketing Budget.
Inevitably, at some point during your conversation with any prospective full service marketing agency, you’ll be asked about budget.
From the agency’s perspective, there’s nothing more frustrating than an answer of, “We don’t have a specific number in mind” or even worse, “The sky’s the limit”. Both of these responses show a lack of consideration that should have happened well before reaching out to agencies. After all, if you’re not sure of budget, how can you forecast ROI (more on that in a moment)?
It’s definitely OK if your budget is small as long as you can clearly communicate this and adjust your expectations regarding deliverables accordingly. While you may not be able to outsource everything you’d like to, fully knowing your small budget means that you can effectively hire help where your team lacks specialization or experience. And starting with something is better than letting your marketing efforts plateau.
#3: Value the ROI of Marketing & Advertising.
While a full service marketing agency can provide performance benchmarks regarding the ROI of a prospective campaign, it helps to do a little bit of your own research ahead of time.
Whether you’re outsourcing email marketing, social media marketing, paid ads, or some other digital marketing activity—look up industry performance benchmarks to set expectations for the results you hope to achieve. Spending time on this can also help you understand if a prospective agency team puts their money with their mouths are when it comes to follow-through.
#4: Have Strong & Well-Defined Business Goals.
Part of measuring ROI involves knowing your key performance indicators (KPIs)—metrics that communicate success. Since any good full service marketing agency will ask you what these are, it helps to come into the conversation with these already defined.
Some common KPIs when working with a full service marketing agency can include:
CTR, or click-through rate, which is a metric indicating how many people clicked through from an ad or link based on total impressions.
Bounce rate, which is a metric that measures how many website visitors viewed more than one page. 100% is considered to be a bad metric.
Time on page, another website analytics metric that measures interest based on how long visitors stick around on your website.
#5: Provide a Point of Contact Who Can Fully Engage in the Process.
Don’t engage with a full service marketing agency unless you’re ready to collaborate with them as you would other members of your in-house team.
Even though you’re outsourcing some or all of your company’s marketing activities by working with an agency, you still need to make yourself (or another relevant/knowledgeable member of your team) available for important decisions, as well as to help the agency understand everything they need to know about your business to communicate the essence of your brand in the campaigns they create on your behalf.
Note that it doesn’t require a lot of time to be an active member of your agency team. Setting “office hours” or regular calls is a great way to manage any agency needs (including approvals, feedback, and updates) within your existing workflow.
Don’t be a “set and forget” customer—staying regular with your full service marketing agency ensures that they take the process just as seriously as you do. Although it’s certainly not your responsibility (or a requirement), staying current with digital marketing best practices can help spark further discussion and ideas with your outsourced marketing team.
#6: Have an Existing Digital Presence (or a Basic Foundation).
If you don’t already have an existing understanding of digital marketing, it’s going to be hard to get what you want from a full service marketing agency. So before you reach out to prospective agency partners, do your due diligence as far as learning the basics.
Once you have a decent understanding of what success looks like and how you want your brand to be portrayed across digital media, take the time to set up and populate your channels (social media, website, listings websites, etc.) with the basics.
Once you’ve created a solid foundation, a marketing agency can help you take things to the next level with their experience and knowledge of best practices.
Final Thoughts: 6 Things to Get Right Before Hiring a Full Service Marketing Agency
If you’ve met the basic qualifications as outlined above, congratulations—you’re ready to start working with a full service marketing agency. Although it sounds like you’ve figured out a lot of the basics on your own, you’ll achieve greater success by enlisting the help of professionals. As an added bonus, you’ll regain more time for all of the other tasks you’re responsible for in the business!