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Whether it’s time to create a plan or update your online marketing strategy, it may be a bit of an overwhelming task to figure out where to start. This is usually where many businesses jump straight to the idea of needing a great website and immediately start calling around for quotes. This can be a dangerous game. If you’re unfamiliar with online marketing, it’s extremely easy to be taken advantage of by online marketers who use out of date practices. Many marketers can talk the talk, but at the end of the day your online strategy has to be much more than a cookie cutter website that gives you little or no return on investment.

Arm yourself

Much like a job interview, the initial meeting with your marketing team is as good a chance for you to learn about them as it is for them to learn about you. There should be lots of questions flying back and forth. Here are 3 things to help you get the most out of your discussions when it comes to finding the right partner to work with you on your digital brand.

1. Be ready to talk about yourself

Have you ever gone shopping for something and the salesman does nothing but spout numbers and buzzwords at you? It’s usually the mindless drivel that some corporate office forced upon this guy in order to sell their product. Make sure that you watch out for the same tactics in a marketing firm.

^^ I’m not gonna lie though. We’ve all used some of those bad boys at some point.

It’s always great to do some research on the company before you go and see them. A good marketing company will also have already done the same to you. Remember that you’re looking for someone that can help take your online brand to new heights, so it’s important that your marketing team knows as much as possible about how your business works.

Some of the questions you can expect to answer are:

  • What are you doing for marketing now? This includes both traditional or online
  • How do your current clients find you?
  • If you had to group your customers into 3 – 4 types of people, who would they be?
  • Do you have any metrics for your online endeavours?
  • Have you thought of adding X, Y or Z to your brand?
  • What are your goals for a project like this?
  • How are you going to measure the success of this project?

Don’t let a marketing company waste your time by only talking about themselves. Make sure they know you well enough to be able to provide a return on your potential investment.

2. Have a budget in mind and expectations to match

Budgets are something that companies big and small deal with every day. It’s one of the tougher questions we ask at the first meeting. What is your budget?

It's usually followed by cricket sounds, like they're guarding the Caramilk secret or something.

Asking for your budget does not necessarily mean that the marketing company is looking for free reign to spend your marketing dollars. Remember that they are partners in this with you. If you honestly don’t have a set budget then tell them what your expectations of the marketing exercise are. What kind of leads do you want to generate? How can you lower your cost per lead? Things of this nature will help the marketing team come up with a plan that fits not only your needs but your budget as well, whether you’ve set it yet or not.

As a marketing partner their success is to help you better your business and increase your revenues. That’s why it’s important to create a plan and budget to do just that. In that first meeting if you have a number in mind don’t be afraid to let the marketing company know, as it can help them either take you beyond your expectations or find ways to stretch your budget further and get as close to those expectations as possible.

3. Dont’ be afraid to challenge them

Once you’ve talked about expectations and your budget, what you can do is try to get a sense of how things may proceed, even if you aren’t willing to sign on the dotted line just yet.

Don’t be shy. Let them know what it is you value most in your media partners and challenge the company to come up with some next step plans that go with everything you’ve just talked about so you can motivate the potential partners. A good, motivated marketing company should already have the wheels in motion. It shows you that the company is looking out for you and isn’t throwing together something that doesn’t take your best interests to heart.

It’s all about the ROI

Companies like ours love to see clients succeed and we’re looking for long term clients to really shine with. Nothing gets us more excited than seeing a client walk in with a vision of what they want their business to be. They just need a partner to help them take them there. So when it comes to that initial fact finding meeting let them know what you expect and who they are working for and you’ll get a much better return on any investment you make.

Now go get ’em, Tiger! Here’s a great free exercise to get you started on answering some of those questions you’ll be asked in the first meeting:

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Fusebox Creative | 160 Millennium Blvd – Suite B, Moncton, New Brunswick Canada | Phone: 506-855-3591