The trend toward outsourcing marketing activities among B2B companies continues, with marketing budgets climbing higher for the third straight year. But how do you protect your marketing investment and ensure you get the greatest value possible?
The first step is finding the right life sciences marketing agency for your organization. Choosing the best partner isn’t easy, and there is a great deal at stake once the decision is made.
Here are the top 4 things to consider when you are shopping for a new marketing agency:
- Work with an agency experienced in your market space & sector.
Easily the most important tip on this list is working with an agency that has experience in your space – and preferably has actually worked with your customers. If the agency has operated in that space then they know how to develop solid value propositions and precisely target your customer base.
- Find one agency that can handle all of your marketing communications needs.
The key reason for finding an agency that can expertly create and manage every type of marketing communication you’ll need is simple: you don’t want your message diluted. You need your message to stay strong and not be filtered through too many different companies, all of whom are creating marketing assets.
When you have one agency handling just PR and another who does your digital advertising and yet another creating social media, your message can become very disjointed. If you’re working with four different agencies, managing them will require significant time & effort to keep everyone on point and knit everything together – time which could be better spent elsewhere. This also means that all four agencies probably won’t be able to do as good a job as they otherwise could due to that split in focus.
From an agency perspective…
It’s difficult to cleanly integrate all marketing assets when four companies are doing different pieces of the work.
How we integrate all the marketing communications to power your marketing is the key. When a customer uses someone for PR, someone else for layout and a third person for content creation, how do any of the agencies know what’s happening in all of those other buckets if the customer does not communicate it?
The person tasked with those communications is typically a Marketing Communication Specialist or a Director of Marketing, and neither have the time to clearly communicate all of the details to me. You’ll want to avoid inadvertent blind spots. That’s why it’s important to find an agency that can handle all of your marketing communications needs.
- Know how the agency measures results.
During your exploratory conversations with a new agency, you’ll need to have them explain how they measure results – and how they course-correct based on those results.
It’s not enough to just build an ad and say: “Look how great the ad is. We sent it out and it’s gotten an award.” Awards are wonderful, but if I were you I’d want to know how my marketing agency was measuring the ad’s performance and what they would do if it doesn’t work.
For example, at Brandwidth Solutions, we recently worked with one of our clients on digital ads. We did a side-by-side comparison of Google AdWords and Display ads. The AdWords per click cost was $2.80 and the Display Ad cost was $0.50 per click.
We ran the two ads and looked at the data for one week. For the AdWords ad, the client received 77 clicks. You’d say that was a really good result. With the Display ad, in 48 hours the client had 111 clicks – and they paid a lot less for those clicks.
So can we course-correct? Absolutely.
But without measuring these digital ad scenarios, I wouldn’t have the data to prove to the customer that the Display Ad was a better route to results.
Remember that testing is also key. You have to test things that you might think may not be as effective. You might be surprised by what you learn.
Sometimes you have to test for a longer timeframe than one month. We did a Google Display Ad for a client. One ad was designed using red and the other was designed using blue. During the test we rotated the ads. (We never keep the same one in place so that when a visitor returns to the page it looks different.)
The results were interesting. One month the blue ad did far better than the red one. The next month the red ad did markedly better than the blue ad. What this told us was that both ads are working and we didn’t need to change the color of the ad.
If I had only looked at one month’s data, I would have said we shouldn’t be using the red ad at all. But by testing longer and looking at all the data, we understood that both ads were working. And since they alternated we didn’t need to make any program changes.
So be sure to dig into how the agency measures results – and how they plan to correct course when the marketing activities aren’t delivering results.
- Understand how the agency will integrate all of your marketing needs.
The final tip I give people on choosing the right marketing agency is this: have the agency explain in detail how they will integrate all of your marketing tactics.
This can be difficult to do on paper. Clients will ask me, ‘Can you write down how you’re going to integrate all of our marketing activities?’ It’s hard to take these three dimensional activities and translate that onto a one dimensional surface. For us, it’s far easier to explain the integration in a conversation.
Having that integration conversation with an agency you’re considering gives you a chance to ask specific questions and work through marketing channels you may or may not choose to use. But one question you definitely want to ask is: How are you going to create an asset (such as a white paper), and what are you going to do with it once it is created?
If you’re comfortable with the relationship you’ve built with the agency through the exploratory process, you’ve found the right marketing agency for your organization.
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, energy and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.