By Bekki Bushnell, Associate Director
Everyone is after more. More leads, more value, more return on investment. That’s business. Especially companies with a mission to grow and drive sales. Enter the marketing department tasked with being the business’ strategic partner in all things, from awareness and customer retention to the ever-important lead generation. And therein lies the rub. For companies with ambitious growth journeys more marketing should mean more resource. But often it doesn’t because (and here comes the cliché) marketing departments are required to do more with less. Budgets have tightened significantly with a potential recession on the way which means marketing departments are under even more pressure. So if they do have the spend to recruit, it won’t necessarily be for senior people who can support and / own the lead generation process and content marketing.
Consider that the going rate for a marketing exec in the UK (according to Glassdoor) is £33,720 per year. Cost to company is higher with recruitment fees, the cost of training and embedding the exec, pension contributions, NI… You get the idea.
What if that budget was better spent? Yes, I’m talking about an agency to handle the heavy lifting. I can hear your objections already – It takes time to onboard an agency! Agencies don’t get our business! They don’t deliver! I can’t measure their impact!
You’re not wrong. There are a lot of agencies out there that are like that and don’t deliver on what they promise. But there are benefits of working with the right agency, using what you’d typically pay for one person to get an entire specialist team (account managers, media specialists, designers, writers, social media stars) whose business it is to know your business.
So here’s my pitch:
It takes time to onboard an agency. It really shouldn’t. This is what they do. Even as part of the pitching process, they should have taken the time to get under the skin of your brand, your objectives, your pain points, and prepare to (warning: another cliché) hit the ground running once the contracts are signed.
Agencies just don’t ‘get’ our business. If you’re talking to the right agencies, they will do more than ‘get’ your business. They’ll fulfil the dual roles of trusted advisor and industry expert. They will know your industry like their own and know exactly what to deliver and how to deliver it. At the very least during the pitching process you can ask to see case studies or content developed for other clients in similar industries to get a feel for their expertise and capabilities.
Agencies don’t deliver. Sadly this can often be the case and it gives the PR industry a bad reputation – paying exorbitant fees for time and no tangible outputs. At the very least agencies should commit to deliverables and results (it’s something we feel strongly about and you can read more about it here) because as the client you need to know exactly what you are paying for and what impact it will make on your business.
I can’t measure their impact. Why not? See above. If they are committed to deliverables and results, measuring the outputs and impact across channel and tactic is doable. Provided of course that you’ve provided a good brief, have shared your business objectives, the agency should formulate the best strategy that will deliver against that – all while making outcomes clear and making it easy for you to measure that impact.