Last month, I got married. With so many uncertainties this year, we weren’t sure our dream wedding would become a reality. But after two years of planning and six months of reshuffling, we blissfully walked down the aisle surrounded by our family and friends.
As I managed the details for our special day, I was struck by similarities between wedding planning and choosing a marketing partner for your business: to be successful in either scenario, you need a trusted partner who shares your vision. Here are four questions to consider before making a commitment to, or continuing a relationship with, a marketing agency:
DO THEY KNOW ME? Translation: Do they know your business? Your strengths? Your struggles? The “dating” phase of interviewing marketing partners is important; don’t skip over it. It’s their responsibility to get to know you and your business on a deeper level prior to your first date: Instead of asking, “Are you active on Facebook?” they should be able to say, “I see you have 5,000 followers on Facebook—here are a few ideas for how we can leverage those followers and potential influencers.” And, treat your initial discovery session like a first date: be sure they aren’t doing all of the talking (or selling); you want an attentive marketing partner who asks good questions and actively listens to what you have to say.
IS THERE RELIABLE COMMUNICATION? Translation: Are they proactive and transparent? Do they pick up the phone when you call? Do they reach out to update you on project status? Communication is important in every stage of a relationship; but pay attention to the “honeymoon” phase: When the newness has worn off, are they still working to delight you? Do they still do what they said they were going to do? It is the responsibility of your marketing partner to make your life easier—to put time back in your day, not create more work for you. When choosing a partner, look for evidence of transparency and processes or technology they offer or implement to keep you apprised of project status, next steps, outcomes, trends, etc.
ARE THEY TRUSTWORTHY? Translation: Do you trust that they will do their job? Do they have the resources and experience required to support you and your team? While building trust can take time, it’s important to do your research up front (check references, read reviews, look for thought leadership, talk to their existing clients, etc.), and when you’ve found “the one,” then commit—and trust/allow them do their job. As a born perfectionist, I struggle with this one; I find it difficult to delegate or to let people manage tasks that I can handle myself. To ensure you get what you want from your marketing partner, communicate your goals and expectations clearly so that you can step back, hand over the reins, and let them make it happen.
DO THEY PERFORM UNDER PRESSURE? Translation: Are they doing everything you discussed and agreed upon? Have they performed/delivered on their promises? How have they handled changes or crises? Pay attention to what your marketing partner does in a trying situation. In a tight deadline or a high-pressure situation, how do they react? Do they do whatever it takes to get the job done and exceed your expectations? Look for a marketing partner that is flexible—one that has demonstrated the ability to react and pivot as needed when changes or challenges arise.
Much like a wedding planner, it’s your marketing partner’s job to make you look good—managing projects on-time and on-budget and with exceptional, personal customer service. When you find the right one, put a ring on it.
If you have questions about committing to your marketing partner or if want to discuss scheduling an exploratory first date, please contact me at email@example.com or 440-250-2211.