Marketing used to be a passive exercise; an afterthought if you will. Whether you were trying to sell someone sunglasses or get them to register for your event, you spent time setting up a marketing campaign, put that campaign into motion, then went off and did other things while it played out.
At the end, usually a few weeks or a few months later, you went and checked your results. You did more of what worked the next time. You made changes to what didn’t.
Technology is changing that. Marketing has quickly become the lifeblood of organizations, and vital for driving business.
Now that we’ve added email to our direct mail and digital ads to our ads in the newspaper, marketing is no longer passive. We don’t have to let a campaign play out to see how people react.
With dashboards and marketing software, we can watch in real time as people interact with our collateral and change what isn’t working on the fly. And while that makes campaigns immediately more effective, it also means the passive nature of marketing is gone.
But, optimizing campaigns while they are running is a full-time job in and of itself. While the ability to do this is great, most small businesses and small teams don’t have the time or expertise to manage that process. That’s why many consider partnering with someone who does.
If that’s you, there are 10 things to keep in mind as you search for a marketing service provider.
1. What Is the Pricing Model?
This is the most critical consideration. These kinds of partnerships work best when they become long-term relationships, so you need to make sure the pricing model fits your budget and gives you everything you need. Do you prefer performance-based pricing or a fee-based model? Once you are in the consideration stage with a couple of providers, ask about transparency in the billing process because you don’t want to be blindsided by an unexpectedly large bill.
2. Does It Provide a Way to View Progress and Results?
Does the marketing service provider offer you ways to monitor your results in real time through dashboards? Does it have someone who is available to talk if you have a question? is it giving you regular reporting? Because we can now monitor performance in real time, your provider should be giving you information regularly during the course of a campaign.
3. Does It Have Knowledge of Your Specific Industry?
Like most fields, the digital marketing space is getting crowded. All you need to claim yourself as an expert is a computer, a couple of certifications and a client or two. But knowledge of digital marketing techniques is only half the equation. The right marketing service provider will also understand you and your business. It’ll understand your audience and the buying cycles.
4. Does It Have a Proven Track Record?
When considering a provider, ask to see a portfolio. Can it give examples of successful campaigns run in the past? Is it comfortable highlighting exactly what it did to make those campaigns a success? Does it know, generally, what kind of return on investment its clients receive?
5. Can It Vocalize a Plan?
Can it explain its plan in specific terms, or does it describe practices in vague ideas about how it will help you succeed? Can it tell you exactly how it expects your marketing efforts to progress? Can it lay out your role and what will be expected of you, and what the next steps will be?
6. Does It Take the Work out of Your Hands?
Hiring help is supposed to make your life easier, so make sure any provider you’re considering will do that. Will you be relied upon to be the brains, or will it combine your input with its knowledge of your market to make something great?
7. Does It Communicate on a Regular Basis?
“Communication is key” is a cliche, but in this case it’s absolutely true. You want to work with a marketing service provider that will keep you informed. It’ll keep you up to date on what’s happening, how your money is being spent and will be available to answer any questions you may have.
8. Can It Scale With You as Needs Change?
When you’re looking for a marketing service provider, what you’re hoping to find is a partner that can meet your evolving needs as your business grows. What you don’t want is a provider that sees your relationship as simply transactional, where success is based on completed tasks, as opposed to continued successes.
9. Does It Have a Strong Online Presence?
Does the provider practice what it preaches? Drink its own champagne? Sure, there’s always the idea of “Do as I say, not as I do,” but if it struggles to get your attention, are you sure it can help you?
10. Is Its Team Strong?
A good team is the backbone of a marketing service provider. When you talk to the staff, do they sound like they know what they are doing? Do they have ideas? Are they knowledgeable about different strategies?
At ACTIVE Network, we are more than just your software provider; we also offer full digital marketing services to our customers. We like to think we check all the boxes listed above. If you could use help with your marketing, click here to learn more.