Know What Gaps You Need to Fill When Hiring a Marketing Agency
Have you ever wondered if we’re on the cusp of a golden era in marketing? According to Clear M&C Saatchi, over 50 percent of marketing leaders and 60 percent of CEOs believe marketing’s influence is increasing within their organizations. That means that now more than ever, business marketers have the opportunity to contribute to their organization’s overall vision and play integral roles in connecting strategy to outcomes.
That may sound great, but there’s growing pains according to our recent attitudinal research study. We found that many business marketers struggle to design high-impact marketing strategies and leverage internal expertise to bring those strategies to life. Business marketers are carrying a lot, and many look at hiring a marketing agency to lighten the load.
As discussed further in previous blogs, outside agencies are integral to fill gaps and bring in the expertise needed to achieve desired results. In today’s post, we’ll expand on the process of hiring a marketing agency to reveal what business marketers really want — and why it doesn’t always line up with how they’re currently using agencies.
Differences Between Strategy and Execution
An interesting takeaway from our research study was how organizations use agencies isn’t what they rated as most important. For example, our recent blog post shared that half of business marketers hire a marketing agency as order takers. And less than half use outside agencies for strategic help.
In reality, our respondents’ three most important factors in working with an agency are:
- Understanding their target customers
- Fresh ideas
- Understanding their business
These three reasons are strategic, although many organizations hire a marketing agency for tactical work, such as designing graphics, video production, and content execution.
In stark contrast, only 41 percent of organizations use an agency for strategic guidance, and only 29 percent say their agency is instrumental in their annual marketing planning. That means over half of all respondents don’t use their agencies for the attributes they desire most from working alongside an agency. And it’s not because these marketing leaders are confident in their internal strategy. Less than half give their organization high marks for these core strategic capabilities:
- Differentiating themselves from the competition
- Converting ideal prospects to customers
- Effective marketing strategy
After conducting the research, three distinct types of marketers emerged: Accomplished Marketers, Anxious Strugglers and Strategy Believers. Though Accomplished respondents give their organizations higher ratings in these strategic categories, Anxious Strugglers and Strategy Believers lag far behind.
8 Reasons Why Organizations Aren’t Leveraging Agencies for Strategy
Although our data doesn’t uncover why organizations struggle to leverage their agency relationships in the ways they claim are important, here’s what our experience tells us could be contributing factors:
#1 Organizations are not solid at strategy themselves, so they don’t know how to ask for strategy from an agency.
#2 We have seen companies (or marketing leaders in those companies) that simply don’t like to admit they need assistance with strategy.
#3 Many organizations treat all marketing like a fire drill, and strategy becomes a convenient place to cut time and resources.
#4 In-house marketing teams are small and overworked. They lack the time (and experience) needed to develop a solid strategy.
#5 Brands think that working with an agency is beyond them and assume it’s too expensive.
#6 Brands haven’t made marketing a priority.
#7 There is an internal misalignment on vision, mission, and goals.
#8 In-house teams aren’t aware of what an agency can bring to the table.
Most brands hang their hats on points of parity rather than on what truly differentiates them in the marketplace. These are very often table stakes messages and don’t give the buyer a reason to care or to affiliate themselves with the brand and its solution.
Hiring a marketing agency moves beyond the obvious benefits and solutions to helping your brand or product stand out — whether it’s a new product launch or product enhancement.
Ask yourself: Are you going to challenge someone or are you challenging something? Although it sounds simple, the distinction is an important one. Challenging someone is focusing on the competition and how you are different. But that way of thinking does not take into account the buyer mindset, which ultimately is the most important barrier to cross. You need to understand the competition, but focusing your marketing on how you can change buyer habits is the most important thing.
To get the buy-in you need to hire a marketing agency, you must get stakeholders involved and then aligned. Start talking about vision, messaging, and the value of working with an agency that deploys a fully integrated Earned, Shared, Owned, and Paid (ESOP) approach. Then discuss your situation with multiple agencies to get ideas on possible next steps.
To learn more about each segments’ behaviors and the opportunities they present, check out our entire executive summary and webinars. And to further ignite your own marketing strategy, check out our podcast.