In the marketing world, success is dependent on a healthy relationship between marketer and client. Though marketers can work autonomously and still get decent results in their work, both parties can find great advantages when they work together to help fully utilize outsourced marketing resources. Here are some tips to help your business get the most out of the marketing services you purchased:
1. Maintain open lines of communication
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just dump money into an empty void and receive paying clients with a high return on investment as a result? This is ultimately what you are expecting to happen if you hire a marketing company to help grow your business, but don’t keep open lines of communication throughout the process. To fully utilize the services your business is paying for, it is always best practice to make sure you are communicating with the marketing team you hired. This helps us marketers establish an effective plan based on knowledge that only you may possess (on top of external marketing research we do ourselves). After all, you’re the one in the trenches everyday hearing exactly what your customers want. It also helps you better understand your business by hearing the latest results of the marketing efforts being performed for your company, which could include valuable customer data and insights into your industry.
Clients who actively speak with marketers on a weekly or bi-weekly basis reap the benefits of getting feedback on marketing efforts and feel more engaged with the marketing process. This can result in valuable insight into your market or just better performing initiatives. For example, let’s say you are a Denver based company and hire a marketing agency to run a paid search campaign. They target your immediate area as well as some surrounding cities (hypothetically let’s say Denver, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, and Lakewood). They call you and inform you that you are getting more engagement in Littleton and Highlands Ranch than you are in Denver, and that the clicks you are receiving from those areas are converting better than the clicks from Denver. Consequently, your ROI is much higher in those two cities than it is in Denver! Together you decide to allocate more funds to ads displaying in these two cities, and you start to notice a significant increase in both leads and conversions.
You may have never known this information had you not picked up the phone to have this conversation with your agency to begin with. While seasoned marketers may just continue targeting these areas based on the data without your input, it is a much healthier relationship if the client is available to sign off on things like changes in the target locations for better utilization of funds, or to just be in the know in general. You may also discover new revenue avenues with this information, like setting up a table at a tradeshow in Littleton or hosting an event in Highlands Ranch to reach out to these engaging customers.
This brings me to my next point…
2. Host or sponsor events in tandem with other marketing initiatives
Successful clients never shy away from an opportunity to promote their brand and always keep an open mind. Marketers may suggest sponsoring a local event or running your own event entirely. For first time event participants or hosts, you may be unsure as to whether the time and effort invested in an event will pay off. But hosting or participating in events allows you the opportunity to educate audiences about what it is you do while exposing them to the fact that you exist in the marketplace. This exposure will likely generate more leads for your business, especially when done in tandem with online marketing and social media campaigns, which will hopefully be converted into more sales.
Events don’t necessarily have to be large parties with DJ’s and craft beer kegs at a modern art gallery. They can be simple, affordable educational classes that inform local businesses on the subject of your business. Or, you can always just sponsor an event and buy a presentation time slot to present your business so that your company doesn’t have to foot the entire event bill while still getting exposure.
Regardless of how you choose to participate, the main takeaway here is that you should always be willing to show your face if the opportunity is presented to you by your marketing agency. If you are afraid of people not showing up, put faith in your agency (if they are good) to promote the event for you using mediums like email, social media, PR or your website.
3. Encourage reviews from customers after services are rendered or products are sold
I talk to way too many clients that don’t utilize review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, or TripAdvisor to accumulate reviews for their business after rendering a service. These sites are the equivalent of generating word of mouth between complete strangers. They also help with your site’s SEO (search engine optimization) as some review sites (Google reviews) are linked to search results. When people visit your Yelp page, for example, they are affirming whether or not you are a legitimate business based on your reviews. In other words, they are weighing the risk of using your services/coming to your establishment prior to actually taking any action. In a way, the customer becomes a lead just by visiting your Yelp page because they are inquiring about your business somewhat vicariously. Whether or not other people have used your services and were happy with what you delivered is what is influencing their decision to go beyond virtual window shopping.
At the same time, you are getting completely honest feedback about things like customer service, product quality, and the overall likability of your company. If you’re in the service industry and people keep commenting on how bad your food is, perhaps it’s time for a personnel or menu change. If you’re a mechanic and customers complain that your price for an oil change is too high, maybe it’s time to lower your prices.
So, if you aren’t utilizing your current customer base to generate reviews for you, you are watching future leads slip down the drain. Marketers can get you more business, and even help you with reputation management, but you and your employees should make an effort to get reviews out of customers by providing service worth ranting about.
4. Make an effort to maintain active social media accounts
At this point, talking about social media being important for your business is beating a dead horse. However, I think most people would be surprised at how many businesses still don’t take the time to post at least once a week and build a community around their brand (or just let people know that the business is still functioning). Think about the last time you went on a company’s Facebook page and saw that their most recent post was from February 2012. What was the first thing you asked yourself? Probably something like “did these guys go out of business?” You may also ask yourself if the company is that much out of touch with modern civilization that they can’t even devote a few minutes to update the internet on what they’re up to.
For marketers with clients that choose not to include social media as part of their marketing package, this lack of social media upkeep can be a thorn in our sides. The reason being that it is a great place to enhance marketing efforts through posting promotional offers, links to your website, and material to educate your audience on why they need your services. Time and time again I witness my clients who put in the extra effort to utilize social media get faster results with things like Search Engine Optimization, leads generation, and brand awareness. Conversely, I’ve seen tons of clients that either make excuses not to use social media or just flat out refuse to believe its worth, but these same clients tend to struggle in attracting new business or improving their position in the search rankings. They also tend to blame this lack of success on the marketer…
Outside of posting to sites like Facebook or Twitter, I have also seen clients get great results with creating and maintaining a YouTube account. Though it is more difficult to create videos (without professional help), they provide the most amount of insight into the tone of your business depending on what you choose to show in the videos and who you choose to host them.
5. Listen to the marketing data and make the necessary adjustments
This is the last and most important quality that successful clients possess when outsourcing their marketing. When marketers describe trends in data and give suggestions based on that data, the successful clients listen. Data can be collected by marketers from multiple sources, including your website, social media accounts, review sites, advertising campaigns, and more! It can reveal things about your business that otherwise would’ve gone unnoticed until the phones stopped ringing.
For example, a client of mine owns a steakhouse that ranks in the top 10 restaurants in the area for both of their locations. One would think this would make them impervious to things like bad reviews or patrons getting bored with the menu, but this was very much not the case. After receiving 3 bad Yelp reviews in a row and a bad Google review around the same time, we began to see their reservations data start to trend downwards, followed shortly by organic search traffic of the restaurant’s name decreasing significantly. We informed the business of this chain reaction, and rather than chalk it up as an anomaly or false reporting, they took action to repair their reputation and spark new interest in their existing customer base. They lowered their prices on a majority of their dishes (one of the complaints was that the food was priced too high), while also offering new menu items and weekly specials, and addressed their staff about complaints customers were making in regards to the overall service. They then advertised the new menus and specials on social media and in paid search campaigns, and sure enough their numbers took a turn for the better within a few weeks of the changes.
Had they not listened to the numbers, as well as the suggestions given by their marketing team on how to repair the damage, the company may have tanked entirely rather than learned valuable insights from customer complaints and built trust in their marketing team.