Typically, a company engages a marketing firm when it lacks time or internal resources to accomplish certain tasks. While this reasoning is effective and can deliver results, the most significant value of working with a firm is the opportunity to gain an unbiased third party perspective and deep subject matter expertise. Once you’ve identified the need to bring in a firm, where do you begin? How do you know which is the best fit for your needs? How do you ensure maximum value over the lifetime of your engagement? Austin marketing firm Launch Marketing interviewed numerous marketing executives to discover common pain points and successes experienced when working with a firm. After analyzing the results of the interviews, Launch Marketing uncovered the following ten points to consider when evaluating and/or working with a firm, large or small.
1. The Right to be Heard.
When evaluating a firm, no potential client deserves to be talked over and force fed a heaping helping of the firm’s greatness. As a potential client, you have the right to state your needs and have your needs heard. If a pitch is generic and focuses more on the accomplishments of the firm than the vision for your company, then they aren’t hearing you, and therefore are probably not the best choice to work with.
2. The Right to be Understood.
It is often seen that some firms ramp up for a client pitch by preparing their resume of accomplishments instead of taking the time to do the homework necessary to gain an understanding of your company, products or solutions. This is a large, red flag. The best pitches ‘feel’ like the firm is part of the company, so much so that it should be seen as extensions of your company’s internal team. The further the firm is along on that path of alignment in early stages, the better your odds are that it will add value to your team.
3. The Right to Transparency.
It is surprising how many firms send in the executive team to pitch to a client, only to disappear once the deal closes. As a client, you have the right to meet the team during the sales process who would be assigned to your project and actually doing the work. It is important to establish a relationship with the people who you will directly work with from day one. Ensuring you are comfortable working with the team is paramount to ensuring you get the work and results you are paying for.
4. The Right to Simplicity.
No matter if engaging with a firm that has a large or small staff, all clients have the right to interface with just one point of contact. It’s even better if this point of contact is a senior-level team member, or one that is more strategically engaged. Doing so will ensure your point of contact can add value to the engagement and answer questions quickly versus just acting as a traffic manager for communication.
5. The Right to Responsiveness.
Just as it is important to have one main point of contact at a firm, it is equally important for that contact to provide you frequent and clear status updates. This is especially true after you have a meeting with your point of contact. As a best practice, your point of contact should email you a summary list of the points discussed, and a clear outline of any action items they owe you, or that you owe them. Your firm should understand you need them to be accountable to you, providing timely status updates, so that you can be accountable to your internal team.
6. The Right to Immediate Value.
In hiring a firm, a company should expect to hand over a project (or project components) and have it completed effectively, without managing the firm’s team, and without having to come up with the ideas for the firm to implement. Having to manage your firm to that extent discounts hiring them in the first place. As a client, you have the right to expect the firm to take ownership, and do the job they say they can do in the contract.
7. The Right to Accountability.
As a client, you have the right to receive work from a firm that is of absolute value to your company. If a firm is running up against obstacles on a project for a client, for example, difficulty generating responses to a survey, or gaining interest in a webcast, it is the responsibility of the firm to notify the client of the situation, and proactively provide an outline of alternative solutions to implement to help achieve projected goals. As a client, you have a right to make sure the firm you hire will follow through on the work they promise, and notify you when unforeseen challenges arise and provide ideas on how to overcome them and still achieve success.
8. The Right to Proactive Counsel.
Companies should expect when they hire a firm that they will receive new and creative ways to solve problems. As a client, you should expect the firm will not just do what you ask of them, but will go the extra mile and come to you with ideas and information on new and developing trends to evaluate and possibly implement, and share best practices. Expect firms to voice concerns about potential misalignments seen in your current plans, processes, branding, messaging and more. Firms should always keep abreast of industry trends and be ready to share their knowledge with you.
9. The Right to Continued Communication.
Many clients who engage a firm receive a lot of communication in the early stages, when work has begun, but find that it can taper off if the firm isn’t proactive and consistent about staying in touch. It’s important for the firm to be proactive and keep the lines of communication open with its clients at all times. A firm that also proactively goes out of its way to stay in touch with a client by forwarding on relevant articles, blog posts or possible events to attend is doing a good job of showing its continued interest and focus in the company, and is most likely a firm to continue working with.
10. The Right to be Number One.
Most importantly, you have the right to feel like you are the only client; the firm’s top priority. Everyone knows that a firm has many clients it serves. However, regardless of how busy your point of contact is, he or she should always be responsive and accountable to your needs. If your point of contact can’t immediately start working on your request, he or she should at least respond with a phrase such as, “I can’t get to this today, but I can do so tomorrow.” A quick response to let you know they received the message and will work on it as soon as possible is priceless.
Know Your Rights
Make sure whichever firm you choose can meet these and any other needs specific to you, your internal team and your company. The expectations you outline up front can help you build a successful and long-lasting relationship with the firm you engage. Are you looking for outside marketing expertise? Contact Launch Marketing today and learn why over 100 companies have leveraged our services to help generate leads and drive revenue.
Launch Marketing extends special thanks to the marketing executives at companies including Austin Ventures, Bazaarvoice, Dell, LifeSize, Mirage Networks, NetQoS, ReachForce, TAB and Zilliant, who contributed ideas for this article.
photo via: http://www.theimaginativeconservative.org/2015/11/why-the-bill-of-rights-is-a-failure.html