It’s important when you start working with a marketing agency to set the right foundations. The more they understand about you and your business, the better they can tailor their efforts to deliver exactly what you need, meaning the greater your return on investment.
The initial job of your marketing agency is to ask questions – ideally a lot of questions! The purpose is to get a really clear picture of where your business is at and where you want it to be, together with the opportunities and threats that may come up along the way.
At first the questions will be relatively high level, but then once the work begins you may dive further into specific areas, depending on the strategy and specialities required (e.g. Copywriting, SEO, Website Design).
To help you prepare for this initial session with your agency, we’ve outlined ten of the most important questions they should be asking you.
1. Your business
The obvious place to start! As well as the relevant history, your agency needs to understand the underlying drivers of your business and what you stand for, so they can ensure your marketing is always aligned to what’s important to you.
Knowing the aspirations of your business allows your agency to see the bigger picture and ensure that everything they do is always driving you towards where you ultimately want to be. A great marketing strategy sets you up for the long-term.
- When and how did your business start?
- What was the crucial question your business was created to answer?
- What’s the driving force of your business? Why does it do what it does?
- What is the vision of your business? What does it aspire to be?
- What are your specific business goals for the next one, three and five years?
2. What do you offer?
Of course your agency must understand exactly what it is they’re marketing, but the important information here lies in the benefits your product/service offers to your customers. You see, customers don’t necessarily care about all the technical aspects of what you offer, what they really want to know is how it makes their life easier or more enriched. Once you nail this for your ideal customers, your marketing will go to a whole new level.
- What do you sell?
- How do you sell it?
- What specifically does your product/service do?
- How does your product/service benefit your customers? What problem(s) does it solve?
- What’s distinct about your product/service compared to your competition?
3. What challenges are you currently experiencing in your business?
Understanding your current needs will allow your agency to build a complete strategy that specifically addresses these, while still maintaining their eye on the long-term prize. You may even find that your priorities and challenges shift once you start approaching your business and marketing from this higher level perspective.
This is why working with a marketing agency can be so valuable, because we provide an impartial view and often see things you don’t, because we’re not as close to everything as you are.
- What are your current challenges?
- How is this impacting your business goals?
- How do you specifically want us to help you overcome these challenges?
- In what ways will your business benefit from overcoming these challenges?
4. What are you currently doing for your marketing?
Whether your past marketing has been a success or failure, it’s all helpful information for future marketing. Take the time to pick apart your marketing activities and identify what it was specifically that worked or didn’t work for you, making note of what you specifically did.
For example, it may be that your Facebook Campaigns haven’t produced desirable results. Before you conclude that Facebook Ads don’t work for you, do some investigation to see if you had everything set up and optimised correctly for your target audience. Your agency can help you with this by conducting a simple audit.
- What are your current marketing activities?
- What results has this produced?
- Is there something that has been particularly successful for you?
- What data do you have from your previous marketing?
E.g. Your customer database information, website analytics, social media stats or results from specific promotions
5. Who are your target customers?
This is one of the areas that slips businesses up with their marketing time and time again. It’s imperative that you and your agency know your customers better than they know themselves, so you can tailor all your marketing specifically to them.
Pretty much every industry nowadays is saturated and full of noise, so you must know how to stand out and be heard by the right people – in order to do this, you first have to know who the right people are and what they want to hear.
Try to define 2-3 stereotypical customers with as much detail as possible.
- What is the demographic of your ideal customers? Age, gender, location, socio-economic group, interests etc.
- What are their top three challenges? E.g. Not enough time, unhealthy, financial concerns
- What do they want most in life? E.g. More time, energy, money, success, travel
- How does your product/service help them to overcome their challenges and get what they want?
- If you aim for businesses or government clients, what sectors do they represent and how do they buy goods and services?
6. Who are your competitors?
As mentioned above, markets are incredibly saturated, so it’s important to know who else is trying to get the same attention of your customers. By differentiating yourself and creating a more attractive proposition for them, the chances of them choosing you over your competition is greatly increased.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be done through what you offer. By having a very clear picture of your target customers, what they want and how your product/service can benefit them, you can easily differentiate yourself with your marketing and messaging.
- Who else is doing what you’re doing, or selling what you’re selling?
- Is their product/service exactly the same as yours? If not, how does it differ?
- What would make someone want to buy from you over your competition?
- How are your competitors marketing to their customers?
- How are their customers responding to this?
7. What is the current state of your market?
There are many external influences that can affect your market – the Government, economy, environment, current trends. So understanding these allows you to think about your business in the context of the broader market, so you can mitigate any potential threats and embrace opportunities. This is often called a PESTLE analysis.
- What factors can affect your market? E.g. environmental concerns may impact your packaging decisions, Government policies might determine the availability of budgets for business to business companies, or advances in flexible working might call for new technological solutions
- What opportunities exist within your market?
- What threats exist within your market?
8. What are your project objectives?
It’s important for your agency to understand your specific goals and expectations for your project, as this is your measure of success. The campaign will only be considered successful once it has delivered on these objectives for you.
Of course, sometimes there can be a disconnect between what you expect and what’s realistic, given all the factors such as market, audience, timeframe, budget etc. So it is the job of your marketing agency to create a strategy that takes all of this into consideration, and for you to agree before work commences, so you can ensure the right objectives can and will be met.
- What’s the big thing you want to achieve?
- What’s driving you to undertake this project right now?
- What are your expectations of working with a marketing agency?
- How will you know when your project is a success? E.g. new clients, more referrals, increased profit or greater market share. Remember however, that you must get specific with these goals so you can be sure when you’ve reached your level of success.
9. What is your marketing budget?
When it comes to marketing, the possibilities are virtually unlimited. Budgets however, are normally limited. Having a rough guide for your budget ensures that your agency recommendations will fit with your business. It also means that they will focus on activities that will get the best results within your budget.
- Have you defined a budget or do you need guidance?
- What are your expectations in terms of return on investment? E.g. Perhaps you have an ideal acquisition or conversion cost per customer.
- How much have you been spending on your marketing and what is your current ROI?
10. What are your timeframes for this project?
Again, it’s important for your agency to understand your expectations on how quickly you want results. This may also require some initial discussion to agree on what is realistic. For example, new Facebook campaigns can often take a couple of months to start producing results because the Facebook algorithms need time to mature and optimise. So it is the job of your marketing agency to talk you through this, and ensure they can deliver on what they promise.
- How quickly do you want results? Are you looking at the long-term and want a campaign that will deliver results for you now and for months (even years) to come
- How quickly do you want the campaign underway
- How long is your campaign
Setting the right foundations now means better and more long-term results
While all of these questions may seem a little arduous at the time, it is an essential process if you want to have a successful relationship with your marketing agency and get a positive return on your investment.
Think of it like a house – if you don’t start by building the foundations correctly, after a while cracks will begin to show and the integrity of the house will be compromised – eventually it may even completely collapse. But by investing a little time and effort initially, the results are much more solid and long lasting.
If you’re considering working with, or even changing, marketing agencies, we’d like to invite you to have a chat with us. Here at Oddball we always ask why, why, why so we can identify the very best solution for you.
We understand that every business is unique (some might say, “Odd”!) with unique needs, so we take the time to get to know you, so we can build those solid foundations and get you the results you want.
Contact us for a complimentary discovery session with one of our marketing strategists, and start getting answers to some of these powerful questions.