I attended the Global Managing Partners conference in London recently to hear marketing expert Dr. Bill Nicholls talk about ‘delivering client satisfaction, loyalty and developing the goodwill bank account’. Translating that into layman’s terms, how to keep hold of your customers.
Marketing Management Archives - Page 3 of 4 - Klaxon
Marketing Planning for Entrepreneurs
Planning B2B Lead Generation Around the Sales Funnel
If you are planning b2b lead generation campaigns and haven’t thought about your sales funnel, it’s high time you did. For those new to the term sales funnel, it essentially defines the journey your prospective clients go through from the point at which you acquire them as a prospect, to converting them into a sale.
Are All Customers Good Customers?
I know that seems like a bizarre question particularly given the current economic conditions. However, it’s sometimes worthwhile looking at your customer base and prioritising your efforts on keeping the more profitable segments, letting go those that create less value for your business.
Friday Afternoon Thought – Marketing Planning
There’s a lot written on the subject of planning in marketing and it’s clear there is a need for marketers to prepare a plan of action for any strategy or campaign. I’m a big believer in planning too and work with clients who use both six and twelve month planning cycles for communications, or with longer lead times for more strategic thinking.
Are you Customer Focussed or Self Obsessed?
I’m a big believer that a good marketing organisation is one that puts the customers at the heart of its business. What I mean by this is when decision making is focussed on meeting the customers needs and wants, rather than that of the board or MD. But how to you measure your levels of customer focus?
Event Marketing for Lead Generation
If you ever want a really simple definition for what business to business marketing is all about, it would be that marketing is the management of acquiring sales leads.
I found a fantastic quote recently about procrastination – you know, when you defer something until later, like making a decision..
I had a poker night at home last week and invited more friends than I could fit into my flat, assuming a couple would drop out.
As you can imagine, I was quite surprised when everyone decided to come along. Great I thought, but then quickly realised I didn’t have enough chairs for them all. I didn’t have time to buy more, so I had to borrow some from a neighbour.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Agencies
I’ve worked in marketing and communications agencies for a little while now and I have represented clients large and small. Some with millions of dollars of marketing budget and others with pennies, or in some cases nothing at all. If you want to get the most from your agency, whether professional marketer or small business owner, there are a few factors you really should think about.
I am constantly surprised by how few marketers know how to effectively brief and manage an agency. As such, here are a few thoughts from someone who has sat on both sides of the client agency divide:
1. Start with a strong brief
All too often agencies are given a brief that is either too broad for there to be a clear definition of success, or is too defined so as to restrict creativity and allow little room for creativity and strategic consulting. There is no standard agency briefing template, but you should consider the following:
- Background to your business / industry
- Short analysis of trading conditions, including the market, key competitors
- Your companies strengths and weaknesses
- Budget and any preferences you have for its expenditure
- Target audiences – who is the decision maker you want to reach
- Broad objective – create Awareness, Interest, Desire or Action – in most cases for a small business you want to create action as there is little point in engaging in a brand building exercise.
- Timescales – when do you need to have the work completed?
Overall, what are your specific measures of success? For example do you need to see a 15% increase in sales, or 100 new leads for your sales managers to follow-up on.
The key with the brief is to be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound – to use the old SMART acronym.
2. Build a strong relationship
All agencies will want to build a relationship with you and your first port of call will often be an account handler. My best advice to you is to build a strong relationship with this person, ensure they understand what you need and when, ask them to report on progress regularly and importantly reward them for good work. The account handler will be responsible for ensuring all other elements of the agency team pull together to service your account effectively.
I have two examples of recent best and worst practice in this regard.
- The best practice client develop a partnership approach, involving the account handler in decision making, asking and taking advice, setting clear goals and ensuring the agency was well represented within the client company. Once the programme had achieved its objectives, the client properly rewarded the entire agency team with lunch and a mention to the agency bosses how well they had performed
- The worst practice saw the client take on an authoritative approach, overruling every recommendation made, treating agency staff poorly and generally being quite arrogant – the client is always right approach. As you might imagine, the project did not run so smoothly and ultimately the objectives were not met.
One client would dearly benefit from some lessons from the other.
3. Agree suitable budgets
All agencies will take a slightly different approach to fees depending on the client and your objectives. You may find you are quoted based on time, or a set fee for a project, or a monthly retainer for ongoing services. Your particular objectives will be more suited to one than the other and the agency will identify the best fit.
Ideally, and particularly if the economy becomes more challenging, you may want to set some performance based payments, e.g. you will pay 100% of the fees if the agency reaches the agreed targets of PR coverage, or uplift in sales enquiries. An example might be:
Target: 10 pieces of coverage in national newspapers
Scale: £1,000 per piece of coverage achieved, with a minimum fee of £8,000.
This provides you with a little protection against under performance and the agency will have the incentive to perform.
If you consider this route, add a little carrot along with the stick. In other words reward your agency for over performance to the same scale as if they under perform. Not forgetting of course to set this as a line item in your marketing budget.
4. Communicate regularly
No matter what field of marketing or communications your agency specialises in, they will need to talk with you frequently. A successful campaign is rarely run by an agency in isolation.
For example, they will often need speedy approvals of copy or images, or a quick turnaround when a journalist requests more information or a quote, or they may need sign-off on a particular choice of advertising vehicle.
In addition, for ongoing campaigns, they may advise you on how to react to news or crises, or provide input for where they believe strategy could benefit from tweaking. Listen to their advice, particularly in the case of specialised agencies, and agree on next steps together.
The key is to make yourself available to the agency and to listen. After all, you are paying them for their expertise.
5. Evaluate and feedback continually
Along with ongoing communication with regards to the tactical implementation of any campaign, don’t forget too to feedback at a higher level. Agencies, like employees, need the opportunity to react to negative feedback, as well as positive of course.
A quarterly feedback meeting may be appropriate but each campaign will operate on different timescales. The importance is to keep up the two way evaluation, feedback and communication.
6. Pay a visit to their offices
Agency teams are often extremely busy. Of course you are too and, as the client, you should expect a certain level of service. However, consider how often you ask them to travel to your offices and think whether it may be practical to pay them a visit instead.
This small courtesy will provide you with an insight into their agency style, level of creativity and environment. In addition it will give you the opportunity to meet with the broader account team and possibly more senior agency management. All of these factors may benefit both your campaign effectiveness but also your ongoing relationship with the agency.
Agency client relationships are vital to the success of any campaign. Whether it is advertising, PR, web design, DM or other, it is very easy to get this wrong. The emphasis to my mind should always lie in a strong relationship built on clear performance objectives.
Whilst it may be difficult for a small business owner or someone new to the game, there is certainly no excuse for a professional marketer to manage his / her agencies poorly.
If you want some advice about how to choose the right agency, there is a decent enough article on Business Link, or you could do worse than looking up the PRCA (Public Relations Consultants Association) or the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing).