Should You Fire Your Marketing Agency?
1. "Do you know how we make money?"
It's simple: your marketing agency should not treat you like an "account"; they should be treating you like a partner. Your agency partners should understand the mechanics and economics of your business, and each agency associate serving you should demonstrate that knowledge in every interaction.
2. "What is working and what is not?"
Demand transparency and accountability, especially today. You should be provided regular, clear, appropriate metrics and reporting to evaluate which campaigns are working and which are not. There are even free, or very inexpensive, Web-based brand analysis and campaign measurement tools available. Ask your agency exactly what they measure for you -- individual campaign effectiveness, multi-channel metrics, overall ROI, brand engagement etc. -- and why those are the "right" metrics for your business goals.
Also, your agency's online campaign measurement techniques should go beyond the predictable (site traffic and ad impressions). Are they measuring the buzz across blogs, social networks and other communities for your brand and your competitors? Ask for benchmarks and comparables, and a trendline for key metrics against your campaigns' past performance. Your agency should be proactive - not reactive -- about tuning and optimizing your marketing campaigns based on hard data.
3. "How can I get more for less?"
Consumers and companies are pinching pennies in a down economy, so you need to attract new customers more cost-effectively and retain existing ones with more urgency than ever. If you haven't asked your agency lately what they're doing to get more site traffic, boost your brand awareness, and encourage your customers to be brand advocates, now is the time to ask. If your agency partners aren't suggesting innovative new ideas to get more leverage out of less marketing spend -- especially online, often the most cost-effective channel for customer acquisition and retention overall - then they should be.
4. "What are my competitors doing that's working?"
Your agency should spend time analyzing the competitive situation for your particular market. Now more than ever, you need to know what marketing strategies are working for your competitors - and cherry-pick the best ideas where possible. You also should be well aware of what marketing channels are delivering the most new customers to your competitors. Maybe they are reaching a whole new audience via a social network you've never heard about, or are building buzz via viral messages among your most coveted audience. There are lots of brand monitoring tools your agency can use to find out what your competitors are doing online. What you don't know can hurt you!
5. "What are the emerging opportunities?"
One way to get measurable marketing results at a low cost is to explore new, emerging channels. One of the most exciting - and measurable, effective, and engaging -- new marketing channel is social media, especially for established companies and consumer brands. If your agency thinks social marketing is an "unjustified expense", they just don't get how powerful -- and cost effective - this channel can be.
Here are few low-cost social marketing strategies your agency should be investigating: distributing videos your company already has the rights to on YouTube; building your brand through viral campaigns and widgets on social networks; sponsoring videos and online educational content; launching branded blogs where customers can directly ask questions to experts about your brand, products, and industry (such as beauty experts or financial advisors); inviting consumers to rate and review your products, and bringing them together to share their opinions and experiences in a company-sponsored forum.
Your marketing agency is one of your most strategic partners. In these heady economic times, you can't afford to be "just another account."