You're ready to take the leap and hire an outsourced marketing agency or internal hire to help advance your business growth to the next level. It's kind of a scary endeavor because if you're like most of the other companies I've talked to, you've been burned in the past. There is something about this new hire that intrigues you, but the last thing you want to do is waste more time and money. How can you ensure this time things will be different?
While there are no guarantees in life, there are two things you can do to onboard your new marketing hire and launch a successful new relationship that maximizes your chances of getting the best return on investment. And one thing I can tell you from the perspective of an agency, if these two things don't happen, we can't do our best work.
Step 1: Openly Communicate and Share Information
Interestingly, if you've hired a marketing agency to help you, you might think that the first step is for them to onboard you. But it needs to be the other way around.
To help you achieve your business growth goals, your marketing specialist needs to have full disclosure about your financial situation, revenue goals, customers, competitors, strengths, weaknesses, processes, technology, policies, corporate culture, introductions to key players, etc. They need to become a true business partner - not just "an employee" or "vendor."
If you're not prepared to share intimate details of your business, or can't commit to putting in the necessary time to share information, then you'll be dramatically decreasing the effectiveness of what the agency can do for you. And if the agency you've hired isn't asking for this type of information, it's a huge red flag that you might have made a bad hire. It's better to cut ties early than let a bad relationship drag on. Any good business book will tell you that!
If you already have an onboarding process for new employees, that's a good place to start. If you don't, your new marketing agency should be able to guide you through the process to provide them all the information they need to develop the most effective business growth strategy for your company.
Here is an example of the onboarding document we use to help us gather the information we need from our clients.
Step 2: Commit to Building Your Marketing Foundation
Once your marketing specialist has been indoctrinated into your business, it's time to begin building or strengthening your marketing foundation. This is where business leaders usually start getting antsy. They want results - now - and don't want to spend a bunch of time working on things that aren't moving the needle immediately.
But here's the problem: if these fundamental elements aren't secure, everything else you build is going to be very unstable. Here are a few examples:
Developing Buyer Personas: Marketing can't create meaningful content that resonates with your target audience if they can't clearly envision the people you want to sell to. It won't hit on the topics that will pique interest and move prospects through the sales funnel. And then here's what happens: you waste a ton of time and money creating content that doesn't do anything for you. It's much more effective in the long run to take the time up-front to do it right.
Content Inventory: This can seem like a real time-consuming pain at the onset. But if marketing doesn't fully understand all the content you have already spent time and money creating, they may end up re-creating the wheel. There may also be hidden gems that they could repurpose or reuse, saving time and money and getting a better ROI on work you've already done.
CRM Policies and Process: If sales doesn't have strong CRM policies and procedures, marketing will never know if the leads they hand-off are converting into qualified opportunities and sales. No one will know what's truly working and what's not, which will likely lead to directing investments toward the wrong tactics.
Here is a list of the 16 steps we look at when helping our clients build a solid sales and marketing foundation. The good news is that when your foundation is strong, it makes it much faster and easier to onboard new hires across the organization in the long run.
What Are Your Roles and Responsibilities?
Your marketing specialist can't get results working alone. You'll need to appoint a person to work directly with them to provide the information they need and help drive strategy based on your business objectives.
Content and social media engagement is a critical part of a digital marketing strategy, so you'll have to commit to working with your specialist to consistently create new content. You'll also have to commit to learning and using social media to some degree. This can cause company leaders' heart rates to go up because it's adding additional responsibilities to their daily work. However - your specialist can institute procedures and processes to minimize your time investment and make it as easy as possible.
For most companies, digital marketing requires a corporate culture shift. But once you see these strategies start driving new business growth, there'll be no looking back.
How Long Will it Take?
Every company is unique regarding the strength of their marketing foundation. Some companies may need a lot of help with these items, while other companies may be ready to rock and roll.
Here's a quick example:
You want to engage in social media. To get started, you need a plan, well-developed social profiles, and content to drive people back to your website. If company A already has social profiles set up and a business blog, they can get started fairly quickly. If company B doesn't have any social profiles and has never blogged, they have to set up those systems before they can even begin.
The length of time it takes to lay enough groundwork to start marketing effectively varies greatly.
While the onboarding process and foundation building can seem arduous, taking time to do it right at the onset will pay off in the long run. You'll have stronger growth, increased efficiency, better ROI and a more secure organization.