Choosing business marketing support – 5 things that should influence your choice of marketing support company
Choosing business marketing support – It’s an important thing to get right, your business marketing… it not only attracts your new prospect opportunities but equally importantly should allow for the reactivation of past clients and the ongoing relationship building and scaling of existing customers.
So why do so many business owners look for the cheapest option when selecting their marketing support? It might be the cheapest web designer, the cheapest magazine or paper to advertise in, the cheapest content generator or the least expensive telemarketer… the focus is all too often on price.
Yet, in almost every other area of business, we look for the greatest value. We buy the office chair that has a degree of comfort without breaking the bank, the telephone supplier whose handsets are actually easy to use and offer clarity of speech whilst also not being made from gold, and the vehicles which have a good degree of reliability as well as strong miles per gallon figures.
When it comes to marketing, it should be a case of looking beyond the basic cost and considering the other things that matter too. So why doesn’t that happen often enough?
1. A lack of expertise; yours or theirs?
This is the most common reason. When we don’t understand something or cannot see clearly the benefit of something but know that we are supposed to have it to ‘tick the box’, we tend to look at the only sense of value we are familiar with – cash.
The judgement of who is best is counted against the metric we do understand and therefore we seek what appears to be the most favourable; the cheapest.
But when you consider this in the context of your own product or service, there are several good arguments you could give as to why as your customer I should not be focussed ENTIRELY on price.
There are issues of quality, convenience, expertise, qualification, proof, speed of response, accuracy, brand association, methodology, safety and a whole heap of other potential influencing factors that are actually all in the best interest of the customer to apply some weight to.
After all, if you had to have heart surgery and were presented with the option of two surgeons – one of whom was priced at £50 for the operation and the other at £10,000 for the operation you’d want to know what the difference was in order to make an informed choice… because it REALLY matters in that context.
2. The breadth of experience; their technical side and the customers experience side
When selecting a divorce lawyer to fight your corner and with the intention of getting the best settlement in the smoothest fashion, it’s wise to ask what experience others have had and where possible to speak with them directly. In that sector, a large proportion of the work is generated through word of mouth – either a direct referral or through promotion of the outcomes achieved.
The law firm generally refers to its’ formal accreditation, heritage, and the case studies it can reference. This makes sense as the question customers have is ‘are you qualified, capable, and have you won before?”
When choosing your marketing support service, don’t ask are you the cheapest… ask are you the best for the price you charge. Those that are worth their salt should be able to explain why they are, and also be able to give you credible and recent examples and statistics to demonstrate the results that they bring. They should also be able to demonstrate how their approach has relevance and effectiveness for the type of business you are in.
3. Does their own marketing work?
It is always amazing when you ask a supplier some personal questions. As an example, if you asked the owner of an Indian food restaurant what his chef’s favourite food was, and he were to answer ‘Italian’ you may start to question the enthusiasm with which they create and deliver!
When you are selecting your marketing support service, and their recommended plan of different activities is coming together… a great question to ask is “How do you do this yourself?”
It is really telling when the answer is, “We don’t actually do that ourselves”. It’s like the restaurant owner saying that they never eat in their own place because they think somewhere else is better! The consistency between theory and the actions of the theorist is potentially quite important; although it is worth asking “Why not?” as there are often some valid reasons why one strategy or channel is relevant to situation A but not situation B. It is when there is no apparent difference in the scenario but there is a difference between the advice and the personal actions that the red flags should be waving.
4. Are they a client lifetime value company, or just a promotional company?
This might seem a simple question, but in fact, there are a few things to consider. You see, in most business owner’s minds, the objective of marketing is simply to generate new leads.
This is certainly an important element of marketing (especially for new launch companies) but it isn’t and shouldn’t be the sole focus of the activity.
It could actually be easily argued that for any company which relies upon or desires more than just one piece of business from each customer during their lifetime, the focus should actually mainly be on the maximisation of repeat business opportunity, the growth and scaling of service levels to existing customers, and the propagation of success stories and proof of concept into the marketplace. By focusing on these areas the marketing company maximises the loyal repeat custom of less price focused clients, and improves the referral rates. The proof improves conversion levels and the endorsement leads to inbound leads without the need for as much direct ‘hard selling’.
So the question to ask of the marketing support you are considering is “How do you help manage the entire client lifecycle and secondary referral generation?”
The answer in the majority of instances will be either a) silence, or b) a slight look of panic followed by some fluff.
Good marketing support companies are more holistic. They offer a range of services, a decent marketing mix, and a focus which extends beyond convincing the as yet unknown new prospects to connect. They enable the entire value capture from existing clients and the forwards promotion of success stories to encourage new leads to call you.
It’s harder work, and it takes more skill; which is why you need to consider cost versus benefit all the time when selecting your support team.
5. Are they a design team or a functional business support/expansion.
Many business owners get caught out by the concept that marketing is design and that design is marketing.
Design is the creation of visually appealing media which enables the audience to enjoyably receive a message.
Marketing is the creation of demand for your service, and the development of that enthusiasm for your solution until the time is right, the sale can be made, and to continue the relationship through to repetition.
Too many companies offer design under the masquerade of marketing and vice versa. It’s one of the reasons why in our own business we have specialists in both areas – they are a bit like oil and water; rarely found mixed well, but they should definitely sit alongside one another.
To uncover these gaps you need to ask business-focused questions to uncover the marketing credibility and brand / stylistic questions to uncover the gaps in the design side.
Good marketing support should provide a healthy mix of the two so that the messages you convey are attractive and user-friendly as well as technically competent, findable and effectively delivered. This service supports the marketing function in your business rather than just making your paperwork and website look pretty.
A point of interest on the end:
This article is a little different to many on the topic, and the reason for that is it is written by a business coach with a second business in marketing support services. It has been created as the cross-over between real business knowledge and independent marketing thought is not often covered.
I hope that you find it a useful insight into the selection criteria and approach which will lead you to a better marketing support team being selected.
Looking for marketing support?
If you feel that we can assist you, or would like to find out how you can either call our offices at Growth by Design on 01444 810530 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
(we offer a complimentary marketing review (worth £250) to all companies turning over more than £250,000 annually so do let us know if you’d like to take advantage of that!)