Hiring an outsourced marketing agency is a big decision. It’s not much different than hiring an internal person. These are people you’re going to work with to get important work done, and you want to ensure they’re capable and a good fit.
While there’s no question that each agency is unique and brings different skills and resources to the table, here are 7 things you should expect from any outsourced agency you hire.
1. A Cohesive Marketing Plan
Marketing is complex, and agencies are becoming more and more specialized: paid advertising, content marketing, events, PR, billboards, lead generation, branding, reputation management, websites - the list goes on. It goes without saying that they’ll have a plan for what they’re going to do for your company, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A marketing initiative doesn’t operate in a silo - it works in concert with your entire business growth strategy. Expect your marketing agency to think beyond their piece of the pie, take time to learn about your organization, and closely evaluate how their program can add value to your overarching goals and objectives. Here’s an example of how to create a cohesive strategic marketing plan.
2. Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities
Here are two reasons why it’s essential to define roles and responsibilities at the earliest stages of an engagement with an outsourced marketing agency.
- Improve efficiency: When additional resources are added to help with new marketing initiatives, there can be a lot of confusion at the beginning. Just like the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” it takes a team to accomplish marketing goals. One person can’t do it alone. The goal is to get everyone working together in the most efficient manner possible.
- Increase enthusiasm: Another consideration is the elephant in the room: sometimes, internal marketing teams can feel threatened by an outsourced agency because they feel devalued or are worried about job security — hard feelings and potentially even sabotage doesn’t do anyone any good. The goal is to ensure everyone buys into the new initiatives and feels like a valued part of the process.
Expect your agency to understand this and make a concerted effort to help clearly define roles and responsibilities, so everyone knows who’s responsible for what. They should strive to make the internal team shine, not run roughshod over them.
3. Transparent Communication
Not knowing what your agency is working on, who’s doing what, or when to expect it done is a recipe for disaster. Expect your agency to use a project management system to detail the upcoming tasks and due dates so you can follow the progress of each item. If you already use a project management tool in-house, you can discuss with your agency which tool and process you want to use moving forward.
It doesn’t matter much what the process is, as long as there is one and everyone understands and adheres to it. Here’s an example of a primary way to use project management to have a full view of the progress of the marketing plan, collaborate with team members, and get work done.
4. Access to All Assets at All times
The assets - any documents, files, videos, datasets, etc. - a marketing agency creates on your behalf are your property. Organizations should have access to all their assets at all stages of development and beyond.
Expect your marketing agency to use a cloud document management system that you have full rights to, and to always have the most updated version of any document uploaded to the system. All assets should be neatly organized, appropriately named, and easy to find. Of course, if you have a document management system and process already in place, you can discuss the best way to move forward with your agency.
5. Meaningful Meetings
Well-planned meetings allow time to discuss questions or concerns that are too lengthy to cover in an email or comment on a task, maintain accountability, and strategize about the upcoming agenda.
Expect your marketing agency to meet with you regularly to keep projects moving forward.
6. Reports & analysis
Marketing results and return on investment are not always clear-cut, but setting goals and creating reports to measure your progress can help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing plan.
Expect your agency to regularly share and review reports with you, and offer strategic insights and recommendations to help you meet your business objectives.
7. Responsive Support
There’s nothing worse than needing to communicate with your marketing agency, but you get back crickets. Expect your marketing agency to respond within a reasonable amount of time. They should define the expectations up-front, so everyone is on the same page.
Once you’ve determined that hiring an outsourced marketing agency is a strategy that can help you get the skills and resources needed to accomplish your business goals and objectives, take time to learn about their work methods and values. It will go a long way to ensuring a fruitful relationship.