Consumers are tuning out traditional, interruption-based marketing methods and choosing when and where to interact with brands. Instead of knocking insistently on their doors, consumers expect us to provide them with the research and information they need to find and choose your product and service. This creates incredible growth and demand for inbound marketing services across the core areas of search, social, content, customer service, email, analytics, web, digital advertising, mobile, and more.
We’ve put together a quick start guide on what you should know before working with an agency, whether this is your first or fortieth time to outsource your marketing or events.
For an in-house team focused on marketing and events, working with an outside agency to outsource marketing or events for your brand can be a great tool in the toolkit. Why? The future belongs to dynamic brands with more efficient management systems, integrated services, versatile talent, a love for data, and a commitment to producing results that can be tracked in real-time and correlated directly to sales.
That’s a lot, for even the most sophisticated brand that has unlimited resources and time. If that’s you, let’s chat about you speaking at our next webinar (seriously). However, if you’re still trying to figure out how to balance it all, that’s okay too. Let's get into it:
1. Know what you want to accomplish
Imagine going to a real estate agency and saying, “I don’t know what kind of house I need. I just need a place to live.”
The agent likely will look at you, look at his or her map, and say “Well, can you give me anything else to go on to narrow down our search?”
The same is true for your marketing and events: a prospective client says they want to grow or innovate, but they don’t have any goals or objectives in mind.
From the agency side, we want to help you find that perfect sweet spot. However, without guidance from you on your business goals, we’re literally throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something sticks.
A business goal is very different than challenging an agency to think outside of the box for your next campaign or attendee experience. Rather, that goal is a guidepost or anchor that we can continually refer back to ensure we’re all rowing in the right direction.
"Clients rely on agencies to accelerate their scalability, provide innovative solutions, add value, solve complexities, speed up processes." John Gleason
Do you want more sales? Happier attendees who have all they need to know before they go AND use the mobile event app you’re trying out for the first time? More lead generation? Better marketing collateral? A more diverse speaker lineup? A new creative twist on your next event program guide? Personalized customer service achieved through chatbot or AI? Accelerate your email marketing? Increase engagement in your social media marketing?
All of the above or none of those —just like any transaction—if you come unprepared, you’re going to likely leave with less than ideal results.
2. Learn about all the services the agency you’re considering provides
Is the agency a full-service for all of your needs, or do they specialize in only one area? Ask a lot of questions around this, because the agency might be full-service but that doesn’t mean it’s a house full of generalists. Typically, it will have specialty groups built-in too.
For instance, at Nifty Method, we are what you could consider a full-service agency for marketing and events where we can help your brand optimize your marketing automation platform, create compelling sales collateral, write weekly blog posts that attract new leads, or increase your social media marketing engagement.
We also provide event design consulting services so you take your next user conference to eleven, help you create and produce a hybrid conference that features face to face and livestream content, design an Instagammable tradeshow experience that brings in non-dues revenue and sponsor ROI, or simply create an event marketing campaign focused on attendee acquisition and engagement. And that’s not all. For us, creating great events and marketing equals exceptional customer experiences, which means helping you transform your big ideas into reality.
However, even a full-service agency doesn’t provide all the services you need, which is why we, and most agencies, work with trusted partners for very specialized services like fabrication, web development, and AR/VR. Don't be shy about asking us about them. If they're partners you should trust, we will love to rave about them.
"We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts.It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” – Jeff Bezos
Again, do your homework on these partners, but if you know, like, and trust your agency, then assume they’re placing you in good hands. Personally, we vet every partner ourselves before we consider offering their services to our clients because, at the end of the day, it is our reputation on the line. In fact, our CEO has a rule where if she hasn’t personally used them or can’t find three references she knows and trusts, we don’t work with them.
3. Research the agency’s previous clients
The agency you work with should have experience with businesses of your size and industry.
For instance, if you run a plumbing or HVAC business, then you wouldn’t do yourself justice to hire an agency that specializes in retail or restaurants.
Take a look at the agency’s website and see if they have a “Clients” or “Portfolio” section. Also, ask your network and check trusted directories like the Hubspot Solutions Partner directory.
4. Set expectations for your involvement and availability
Sometimes, you’ll hire an agency to take care of the tasks you just don’t want to handle. In fact, we have a considerable number of clients hire us for a full-service email marketing campaign that requires limited involvement on their end.
Other times, our clients let us know that they want to be involved at each step of the process.
Either way is fine, but it’s equally important to let your agency know how involved and accessible you will be so they can plan resources and timeframe accordingly.
“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” – Walt Disney
If you don’t live up to those expectations, then the outsourced projects can easily become a failure for both parties.
5. Make sure you get along with their team
These people may not be W-2 employees for your company, but you still have to work with them on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis.
If your personalities don’t jive at the onset of the relationship, then you may likely have issues down the road. No amount of client referrals or success stories will overcome the gut feeling that you simply can’t work together, so be sure to ask some personality or cultural fit interview questions before you hire an agency.
“Your mission statement may be on the wall, but your core values are displayed in the attitudes of your employees.” – Elle Clarke
If you’re having trouble finding the right fit, consult trusted directories like the Hubspot Partner Solutions or if you’re considering an events agency, your local MPI or PCMA chapter to see other potential agencies for hire.
6. Read the contract carefully
A reputable and professional agency will provide you with a formal contract and scope of work to get the program started.
In these proposals, they’ll usually include some legal terms that speak to the length of the contract, cancellation process, and indemnification from future lawsuits.
Be sure you read these terms, as they are legally binding once you sign. If you sign on for a twelve-month commitment and decide to cancel after three months, then you will be legally bound to them for another nine months.
If need be, send to a lawyer to review if you feel overwhelmed by all the legalese.
Hire an agency that will bring your brand to your business goal.
If you find a good agency with talented people who understand your business, there’s a good chance you’ll see substantial dividends from working together.
Keep the above considerations in mind and trust your gut, and you’ll find a reputable agency that can get you to where you want to be.
Looking for an event or marketing agency that fits your needs? Let’s set up a time to chat about your next project and how Nifty Method can help you.
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