Taking the step to employ a marketing agency is a decision that takes a lot of consideration; in some companies, the procurement process can take a few months. But let's fast forward - you’ve researched, listened to pitches, held meetings, discussed the options among your team and pitched to the board for your budget. You’ve agreed the services you need, set some goals and committed to go ahead.
So, once you’ve signed on the dotted line with your agency of choice, what happens next?
A point to note here is that every agency is different, and every business is different, but we think there are some common threads that you should expect and look out for.
For some businesses, the first 90 days of marketing activity will be a sprint, a leap off the starting blocks and straight into promotional activity, with an abundance of content ready to go.
For others, the first 90 days will be about developing your strategy, finding your feet with what works for you and your team in terms of routine, and getting systems and processes in place to allow you to activate and measure marketing activity going forward.
The right approach for you will generally depend on the resources that you have in house, and the experience of your current team. However, there are some generic steps to settling in with your new agency that are important, no matter what stage of development your business is at.
Every good agency will offer you at least one Account Manager with your service plan.
Getting to know your Agency Account Manager is a vitally important step in the on-boarding process. Ideally, you will have met at the procurement stage, but if not, an introductory meeting is the first thing that should be on your agenda. Invite all stakeholders from your business to help build the relationship and give your AM a clear picture of who is responsible for what. Ask questions of everybody and find common ground.
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At this stage, agree on regular contact between your team and your AM to keep everybody up to date with the strategy and evolving priorities, and to catch up on outstanding tasks from both sides. Bi-weekly meetings, either face to face or via video conference help keep up the pace in most cases.
If previously, all your marketing activity has been created in-house, then there may not have been a stringent approval process.
The ideal scenario when working with an agency is that, in time, you're agency will develop enough trust and understanding of your business and its goals that there won’t need to be approval of every single piece of communication, just key pieces. However to start with, bear in mind that your agency will still be getting to know your business’s personality, your brand and your style, so leave time to send drafts back and forth before expecting any work to be published immediately.
Ensure your internal team have made time in their diaries for approval too, to avoid a backlog and delays.
If you haven’t yet defined your customer profiles or buying personas, the first 90 days is an excellent opportunity to do this with the help of your agency, who will be experienced in mapping out customer traits.
Create a shared document for your marketing team to work from. Once you have refined your personas, map out the type of content required to engage and convert each one.
A content calendar is an ideal way to do this to make sure that your email marketing, social media, blog posts and paid advertising are all aligned. You may also find at this stage that there’s an opportunity to add new landing pages to your website too.
Work through one strand at a time, the first strand will help create a template that can be replicated and adapted across a range of personas. You should leave around 30 days for this part of the activity.
Expect to take some time in the first 90 days to map out your customer and prospect data correctly in order to build a routine for outbound marketing. This is likely to be dominated by both manual and automated email sends, but traditional direct mail could play a part too.
Your agency will need your data in .CSV format, with as much helpful background information as possible. You may already have this set up in some old software, and it’s sometimes possible to export everything in one clean swoop.
Allow time to discuss your data with your agency, thinking about how old it is, how it was obtained, how it should be organised now to fit in with your personas, and how to gather or seek out new additions. If your lists are scant in contacts, now is the time to set up landing pages, sign up forms and email discovery campaigns for business development.
How quickly you can move through the above steps will depend on a number of things. Firstly the amount of time you’re able to set aside in your business for marketing tasks, secondly how organised your files and content are to start with, thirdly the steps in your internal approval processes, and lastly the number of hours that you have enlisted the agency for each month.
If you would like to speak to us about a fresh start to your marketing campaigns, please get in touch for an initial discussion about your goals and resources.
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