Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When You and Your Marketing Expert Disagree

As you may already know, I regularly work with marketing agencies, providing that much-needed extra pair of hands for their efforts to produce the steady stream of online and print content that their clients need. Since the marketing provider is already (hopefully) in synch with the clients' brand identity, message, objectives and unique value proposition, I generally communicate through that professional instead of conversing with the client directly. This can be very helpful, partly for ensuring that the marketing provider remains firmly in control of the entire process, and partly because the marketing expert and I already speak the same lingo. I can't tell you how many times the marketing provider has said to me, "Okay, here's what the client says he wants -- but here's what we're actually giving him."

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Would you be outraged if your marketing provider took your ideas and requests and wove them into a completely different entity than you were envisioning? Or would you react with delight to realize that the final result actually surpassed your expectations? The answers to these questions depend on whether there's really a conceptual disconnect between you and your marketing provider -- and if so, where and why it's occurring. Ask yourself the following questions:

Are you clear on your own message?

You may feel that you know exactly what your brand is all about and who it serves -- but do you really? Many entrepreneurs who "just know" these things have never really sat down and sweated out the specifics. What do your buyer personas tell you? What demographics are you trying to cater to? What are your business's stated core values? The clearer you can get on these big questions within your organization, the more clearly you can express that message to your marketing provider.

Does your marketing expert get your needs and concerns?

Even if your marketing goals, challenges and needs are as clear as text on a page, your marketing expert must be ready, willing and able to assimilate that information. Bigger marketing agencies can have lots of people working on lots of accounts. Do you know who your point of contact is? Can you get that person on the phone when you have questions or concerns? Does the marketing agency promise personalized service, or are you just another account number? If you feel like you're talking to the proverbial brick wall, maybe you are -- and maybe it's time you talked to somebody else.

Is your marketing expert right?

When that marketing provider says to me, "Okay, here's what the client says he wants -- but here's what we're actually giving him," that's usually a good thing for the client. Remember, marketing professionals are in the business of helping you generate more revenue, and your preferred way of marketing yourself isn't necessarily the best path to that end. I once had a retailer complain to me that the ad I'd written "didn't speak to him." To which I replied, "I'm not trying to speak to you. I'm trying to speak to your audience." Sometimes it's best to let the marketing experts practice their expertise. As long as their efforts result in more customers and more revenue for you, they're getting the job done.

Whether you've engaged a turnkey marketing provider or a freelance marketing copywriter, communication is key to greater success for all involved. Clarify your own position, make sure your provider is listening -- and if everyone's on the same page, then trust those experienced professionals to make your marketing work.