When a company is growing, the needs of the marketing department change. So how do you know if you are ready to work with a marketing agency?
When a company is preparing for launch, it may decide to hire an agency on a project basis to develop its brand identity (logo and brand guidelines), design a website, or create marketing materials. Working with an agency at this point is likely to be a stretch for the startup’s budget, but it can also help boost initial perceptions of the brand and influence awareness.
The company now employs about 50 people and has grown by word-of-mouth and by the seat of its pants. The company’s branding is likely inconsistent, with a different look for the website, tradeshow booth, and marketing materials. There is inconsistent messaging, and the employees aren’t excited about the brand. Most companies at this stage have someone assigned to marketing as part of their role, but it’s not their main focus. They may outsource projects (a new website, digital advertising, etc.) but likely are working with multiple vendors and still struggling with finding the right strategy.
The company has at least one to two full-time people that are dedicated to marketing. Now, the challenges circle around aligning the sales and marketing team with the company’s goals. Consistency in brand messaging and style becomes more important and the team may struggle to keep up with all the marketing needs of the organization. They are having a hard time adding more staff to the department or keeping their current staff. It’s getting harder to manage all the vendors they are outsourcing to so they will start to look for a fully integrated marketing agency to partner with instead.
What are the warning signs that you should watch for that signal it’s time to consider working with an agency?
There are key marketing activities that are not being addressed.
For instance, no one has touched your social media for a month. Your website hasn’t been updated in the past few months. The tradeshow booth needs to be updated. Sales materials don’t match the changes that have been made in the company. How we look doesn’t match who we are now.
The employee assigned to marketing doesn’t have time to work on the deliverables.
When employees don’t have time to work on the projects that will move the company forward it’s not only frustrating for management but also for the marketing employee. They may also struggle with not having the expertise needed to effectively complete the project. Marketing any company now requires a very diverse skill set and it’s no possible for one person to know all the nuances of digital marketing, websites, graphic design, social media strategy, SEO, video and photography, and writing. They need a partner agency that can support them in their role.
There is regular, repeatable work to be done.
Certain marketing activities – blogging, social media, social video, digital ads – are ideal for outsourcing to an agency. These activities are often the first to be set aside when a company gets busy, but consistency in these areas is crucial for the long-term success of an organization. These are also the most logical to outsource monthly and with the best ability to monitor progress thanks to lots of available data.
There is a lack of strategy or direction.
Often an outside perspective and a strategy can be the motivator for change in a company. Why? Because sometimes it takes someone that knows little about the company to ask the right questions. Strategy work reveals the true challenges and opportunities so you can align the marketing efforts with the business goals. By partnering with an agency that has strategic processes, it can bring fresh perspectives that elevate the marketing efforts and positively influence the long-term success of the company.
When you find the right marketing agency, they should be your partner who is looking out for your best interests. They aren’t trying to replace you or take your job. They aren’t trying to sell you something they think you need…they are asking good questions to uncover what you really need. Ready to learn more?