31 Aug Why you should hire a marketing agency
Why you should hire a marketing agency
Most of our SME clients come to us a last resort. They have tried to do it themselves several times over a number of years. It’s been a huge effort that’s eaten up a lot of their time, money and energy. A stressful distraction from running the business.
To many companies, spending money on marketing feels a bit like getting someone in to redecorate your house or repair the plumbing in the bathroom. It’s an area where you can save money by doing it yourself, with little evidence that the end result is any different.
The fact is that this is true – but only if you are pretty good at redecorating or plumbing in the first place. The trouble is that skilling yourself up when it comes to marketing is likely to be a painful experience – one that takes years to master. And when it is your business that suffers as a consequence, the ramifications are huge.
That’s why you can save yourself a lot of stress, money and wasted time by hiring a marketing agency. The first step should always be to create a strategic marketing plan. The problem is that most marketing agencies are not great at this side of things. Most of them are full of talented people with good ideas driven by a desire to deliver good results. However, in our experience, they are more focused on execution than direction, and that’s going to lead to a whole world of pain down the line. A strategic marketing plan is all about direction. It is intended to deliver absolute clarity on what you need to do. Inherent in it should be a robust argument as to why this is the case. A good plan is always built on insights. Insights are always the outcome of intelligence. The best intelligence delivers the best insights. It’s not rocket science. The more thorough you are with your planning, the more enjoyable, effective and efficient will be the execution.
Strategic marketing plan
So, having hopefully established that the primary reason why you should hire a marketing agency is to make sure that you have got a great quality strategic marketing plan in place, let’s take a closer look at what that means. To our mind, it is one that understands your commercial proposition inside out and back to front. One that articulates your brand proposition in a credible and relevant way. One that includes a full understanding of the sales pipeline process from suspect through to prospect and conversion to customer, and then on advocate and ambassador. One that identifies your primary customer segments are and creates messages that resonate with their needs at different stages in the sales cycle. One that takes into account the marketplace in which you operate – not just direct competitors but lookalike sectors too, and within the wider context of an echo chamber informed by relevant consumer trends. One that establishes the important features and key benefits of the products and services you sell. One that establishes who your primary stakeholders are and determines the best media to communicate with them. One that understands the inherent culture of your business, and understands any challenges that currently exist that stand in the way of marketing success (there are normally a few).
Strategic brand proposition
You may already have an idea of what your brand philosophy is, but a marketing agency can help you to create a strategic brand platform which lies at the very heart of everything you do. Knowing exactly what it is that your company stands for in terms of its values, views and vows is essential to ensuring a coherent approach, both internally and externally. At this stage, a brand proposition is a strategic expression of your company’s character and personality. Brand identity comes later – this first stage is the visual expression of your organisational character and personality. It is the emotional solution to making you stand out from the crowd. By contrast, your commercial proposition is the rational explanation of why you are in business. Combined, this is the most powerful possible way to supercharge your sales and marketing activities, as well as to encourage staff loyalty and attract the best talent.
A marketing agency can deliver market research using external providers to gather a wide range of relevant market and consumer data to inform the insights they use to create robust conclusions that in turn lead to recommendations. These are the fundamentals you need to have in place to develop an effective marketing strategy.
Abacus partners with Mintel, the best market research company in the UK today, to access vast sources of external research and reports written by industry experts, at no cost to our clients. This means that conclusions derived from their insights are unshakeable and our clients can rest assured that the recommendations provided to them are as accurate as possible.
Market research might also take the form of desk research, mystery shopping, focus groups, online panels and various other techniques – bottom line, whatever adds value at a reasonable cost.
A wealth of experience and knowledge
By using a marketing agency, you should get access to either years of experience or depth of knowledge – or both. Their top people are likely to have worked with many clients from across a wide range of different industries. They will have an existing understanding of what works (and what doesn’t), meaning that your strategy is established on the back of tried and tested methods. A marketing agency can also suggest new strategies to make your marketing approach more dynamic, helping you to be disruptive and catch consumer attention.
Great value for money
Investing in a good marketing agency is likely to provide you with an increased ROI because, for everything you spend on your strategy and your marketing, you will be getting a lot more in return. A good strategic marketing plan is not cheap to deliver – but it is valuable. Let’s say your marketing budget is £100k per annum and delivers negligible return. If you took that budget and invested 25% of it in getting a robust marketing plan in place, the rest of it could be used to deliver far more effective marketing strategies. In the long term, your marketing activities are likely to be many times more successful.
It’s a good idea to get an external team of experts in to begin with. You can then – over time – grow your own marketing department to suit your needs. We normally expect to hand over our skills to our client’s people in full over a 2-3 year period.
An enjoyable and enlightening experience!
Finally, a good marketing agency will make all your marketing activities stress-free, fun and educational. Working together means that, whilst you will still need to provide important input at key stages to the overall outcome, they will take on bulk of the work in putting the plan together on your behalf, so you can concentrate on doing what you do best – running the business. Also, with an integrated marketing agency like Abacus, you can also benefit from having the same team of people oversee the delivery of the entire strategic marketing plan on your behalf – either using their own people, managing third parties or working with your own agencies – to deliver the best possible results as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Get in touch
Interested? Contact Stephen Taylor-Brown, Head of Strategy at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.