For many business managers, if you mention the word ‘agency’ they’ll run a mile. We have a fearsome reputation akin to estate agents, investment bankers and salespeople. We’re expensive. We don’t generate leads. We beat unsuspecting business people into submission by using unfamiliar jargon about social media, google analytics, blogs, landing pages, automation, SEO etc. Sounds familiar?
At the same time, most busy business owners recognise that they don’t have the resources to run consistently good marketing activity. We may be well intentioned and start the new year with a plan and a resolution to turn over a new leaf but then reality takes over. We get bogged down with the daily challenges of delivering products or services to our customers. Occasionally we deal with an urgent and important sales lead and have a proposal or a tender to write, which always seems to take up far more of our time then we had bargained for. Then there are staff to deal with, IT issues, telephone calls and emails to answer, the VAT return to submit and before we know it the marketing activity has been moved back. Yet again.
Typically, it’s at this point, when the MD is at the end of his/her tether and cannot cope with time pressure any longer that an agency gets appointed to ‘take care of all that marketing stuff for me’. Initially it’s such a relief that they don’t have to deal with this that the monthly bill isn’t an issue. After all, we’ve done what our business mentor or coach has been urging us to do for ages - we’ve delegated it, saved ourselves a whole load of time and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved.
The agency come in with some attractive images for new websites, a re-branding, a beautiful sales presenter or a spreadsheet showing how many tweets they’ve sent out or how much they’ve spent on pay per click advertising and away they go. A few months later, when we’re sat in the management meeting looking at the sales pipeline figures or reviewing the year with our accountant, there can be a shock. We’ve not delegated our marketing activity so much as abdicated responsibility for it.
By not controlling the agenda for review meetings (or even having them regularly) with agencies we allow them to set their agenda in its place. Some marketing companies are quite happy to continue producing creative work without a proper brief or without rigorous measuring of results in place.
Sometimes when we start work with a new customer they express satisfaction with their agency. But not always. We’ve heard stories of agencies that have generated no new sales leads in 18 months. Website companies that quote £15,000 for an e-commerce website when a realistic price was under £5,000. ‘Lovely’ ladies who will manage your Twitter account for you for a few hundred pounds a month but who haven’t produced a single prospect after 12 months. How about an agency that charge you £60 per hour for a junior team member to produce a timesheet to justify their invoice?
Or the opposite can happen, when the activity appears to be very effective. For example, a new telemarketing company who have generated plenty of ‘leads’ but, after a very time-consuming process of writing a detailed proposal or going to a meeting with the prospect, they turn out to be prospects who haven’t a sufficient large budget to engage your services. A website company that tells you how much more traffic has gone to your website but neglect to inform you that the bounce rate for these visitors is over 90% because they are searching for the wrong keywords?
That’s where a part-time marketing director can help. Someone who is wholly ‘on your side’ when it comes to managing your agency. Someone who can set out the right strategy, prevent you wasting time and money on the wrong activities, negotiate a great deal from newspapers and magazines for PR and advertorial without resorting to expensive advertising. Someone who understands that your precious marketing budget needs to be invested properly to generate quality and well as quantity from your sales leads. Someone who can manage that creative agency to get the best from their talents.
If you’d like to have a confidential chat about how to get better results from managing your agency then call us on 0121 222 5743, or email Gill here