For most companies that hope to compete and grow in the next several years, you basically have three choices for how you can address marketing, demand generation, and keeping the top, middle, and bottom of your funnel filled at healthy levels -- levels that make your sales team, CEO, and leadership team happy.
A Renaissance of Interruption Marketing
Choice number one is you can bury your head in the sand like an ostrich and hope that the phonebook, newspapers, and print advertising and the golden age of interrupting people on TV come back and have a renaissance. You can hope that this whole thing with Google, search engines, social media, and mobile devices and that this whole Netflix thing is overrated -- maybe Blockbuster will come back to life! That's called burying your head in the sand or being in the denial camp.
Building an Internal Team
Choice number two is building a team internally to take care of most of your marketing. Most people, when they're just getting started with this, engage in a lot of wishful thinking. They think they can find one magic person who can wear ten different hats. That's kind of like thinking that you're going to put together a major league baseball team, and you're going to find someone that can play all three outfield positions and all four infield positions extremely well. They can catch -- they can be a starting pitcher. They can be a bullpen pitcher. Essentially they can take on ten or twelve different roles. Or that these people just magically appear on high school baseball teams and can be drafted and ready for the majors six months later.
So it's a lot of wishful thinking. Typically what ends up happening is you hire one person, and then you very quickly realize that this person is really good at content, but they’re not really analytical. Maybe you need somebody who's more of a marketing strategist. Next, you may decide that look and feel or visual is really important so you need a designer. Then you might need to deal with multimedia paid acquisition. So choice number two is typically starting with one person and realizing relatively quickly that if that one person is spending until Friday morning working on trade shows, open houses, and golf tournaments -- only getting to the digital stuff on Friday -- they're not going to get very far.
Outsourced Marketing Services
Choice number three is an outsourced solution like a marketing agency. But if you end up going with a marketing agency, how do you know if they are working on the right things? How do you know if they are working on the wrong priorities?
Generally for marketing agencies or outsourced marketing services companies to earn their stripes and provide a lot of value, they should be singularly focused on helping you drive outcomes that improve the business. Outcomes that can be measured. Outcomes that increase leads. Outcomes that increase sales accepted leads. Outcomes that increase sales opportunities with the right kinds of people, and outcomes where sales opportunities lead to new clients and new sources of revenue. Preferably the new sources of revenue and the new clients that you actually want that fit your ideal client profile. If they're not focused on that and they're working on a whole bunch of other touchy, feely things like branding and design, infographics, and getting media coverage, some of those can be important.
But the smaller the company is and the more resource constrained you are, one of the most important roles for a principal or a strategist is giving you a reality check. Your principal or lead strategist should allocate your resources to help you get to your goal. This is similar to they way that a financial planner helps you come up with the optimal asset allocation depending on your goals or depending on where you are in life. You need to think about the optimal asset allocation when you're coming up with deciding where your marketing resources should go.
You may want to have a website that gives Amazon or Netflix or a competitor that's 100 or 1000 times your size a run for their money. The problem is that as all of your resources go into website design, lead generation, segmentation, sales acceleration, and sales enablement are complete afterthoughts. You're going to run out of gas before you ever have a chance to generate a single lead. So it's really important to spread it around.
The Baseball Analogy
Back to our baseball analogy for a moment. Imagine putting together a fantasy baseball team and for some strange reason, your buddy decides to blow 90 percent of the payroll on a starting pitcher. That means there's nothing left for someone that can close out tight games at the end when the starting pitcher is exhausted. There is no money left for the other four days in a row where that starting pitcher needs a rest so they don't blow out their arm. And there's no money left for somebody that can swing a bat.
The general manager of a baseball team needs to take the $50M or the $150M and spread it around in the best possible way to address the team's strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to compete at the plate, in the infield, the outfield, on the mound, at the beginning of the games, and the end of the game. In the same way, it’s critical that your marketing agency doesn't steer you down a blind path. You need to make sure that you're spreading your resources around, so the bulk of your resources isn't going to the wrong priorities.
Because at the end of the day, most people don't wake up at 2 o'clock in the morning and say, “Hmmm, marketing? No.” They know that marketing connects the dots to a positive P&L outcome that grows revenue, gross margins, and the client list.
The Bottom Line
Make sure your marketing agency is not working on the wrong priorities. If they're not savvy enough to keep you on track with SMART goals (goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), you need to help focus them on the right things that matter most to your business. But if they're worth their salt, they should be pushing back when you come to them with extraneous items that are distractions from your SMART goals that are going to help them deliver positive value and a positive return on investment for you.
Is your outsourced marketing agency focused on your top priorities? Let us know in the comments below.
To learn more about the best ways for your company to compete and grow, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.