This time of year, a lot of companies will reach out to us in an effort to incorporate marketing into their strategy for the new year. Prior to forming a relationship or hiring a communications agency, work to define your needs.
Pull together your team for a quick brainstorm and map out the below:
What were the biggest marketing challenges we faced in 2016? This could be anything from creative, content generation and email marketing to media relations and more.
What are our business development goals for 2017? Keep in mind, communications should support and supplement these goals; it is not lead generation — that is why you have a sales team.
What news do we have to share? If you are growing, expanding or launching a new product, then public relations should be a focus in the coming year. Staying in the public eye is important for companies that have a smaller team. The more awareness you create, the warmer the lead when you reach out to a potential customer.
What is our budget? My suggestion is to break this out by month because communication is an ongoing investment. It is not a one-and-done approach. Companies also assume that a lot of the work will be done in the first several months and then efforts will taper off. By forming a long-term relationship with an agency, you can have peace of mind knowing any new opportunities that present themselves will be properly managed. Don’t forget that SEO, content generation, PR, email marketing, social media and more require ongoing maintenance.
What type of agency is the right fit for us? If your needs center on design only, then you wouldn’t reach out to a PR agency. If you are in need of a firm to function as an extension of your team or as your marketing department, then you are in need of an integrated agency. Knowing who is the right fit for you will eliminate multiple meetings and email correspondence.
Once you have better determined your goals and needs for 2017, set up meetings with a few different agencies, review their work, peruse their testimonials and find out how they manage client accounts. The relationship should be transparent and fruitful.