A marketing director leads a company’s overall marketing strategy. In a large company, that person might hold all kinds of different titles. In a smaller one, there might be no marketing director role: The responsibility falls to the business owner or someone else near the top of the organization.
Small and mid-sized firms often hire a marketing agency as an alternative to building an in-house marketing function. That makes perfect sense! It’s okay for the person you choose to liaise with a marketing agency to wear many hats. But no matter what the particulars are, they still have a valuable role to play.
The role of the marketing director is most complex when they’re at the helm of an internal marketing team that coordinates with the outsourced agency partner. In situations like these, it’s crucial to avoid duplication of effort so you know everyone is being as productive as possible while pulling in the same direction.
In effect, the marketing director is the relationship owner for the marketing agency.
What does that look like? While it can vary, some things remain consistent.
Marketing Directors, Focus on High-Level Outcomes to Make the Most of Your Marketing Agency Partners
By any name, your marketing director is the person who makes sure your interests are being looked after by a marketing agency partner. As the relationship develops, the marketing director might not have to play a hands-on role in all situations, but their input can still serve as an invaluable guide to your expectations.
Here’s how a marketing director should interface with a marketing agency:
1. Develop the Strategy
At the beginning of the relationship, the marketing director should work with the agency to create the broad outlines of the strategy. A good marketing agency will start the relationship by listening and will be ready to understand you, your business, and your goals.
From there, marketing agency professionals will generally have lots of suggestions about what will work for you, based on engagements with clients in similar industries, geography, and strategic situations. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which way things should go.
2. Manage Your Team
If you have your own internal team of marketing staff, then it’s essential to know who’s doing what. There may be areas where you and your agency need to share information. For instance, your agency may build a calendar for your content marketing, but some of the writing might be done by your in-house personnel.
Even if you don’t have an internal team, keep communication open with your agency partner. Understand the frequency of informal check-ins, formal meetings, and what you can expect to cover. Communicate what you need from your partner, especially if you’re under pressure to produce certain deliverables for your leadership.
3. Share Your Customer Knowledge
Ideally, you’re working with a marketing agency that already has some knowledge about your audience and what makes them tick – their goals, interests, burning questions, and pain points. Still, nobody knows your business as well as you. There’s always something you can share to make an agency partner more effective.
If you have formal buyer personas, for instance, that’s the ideal asset to send to your marketing agency. What about internal customer surveys and reviews they won’t be able to look up on Google? Now’s a good time to ask your front-line employees if they’ve received any recent customer comments that could be of use to you.
4. Identify Your Existing Data
Modern marketing is just as creative as ever, but there’s a scientific side that can’t be ignored. Data is the key to knowing whether or not your marketing is truly effective – that is, whether people find your message, retain it, and act on it in the ways you expect them to. That data comes from an enormous number of sources.
If you already use Google Analytics or another analytics suite to monitor customer behavior on your website, for example, be sure that your marketing agency has access to that information. Each source of information should have a “custodian” on your side who’ll maintain access alongside the agency personnel.
5. Define Results
Marketing has its own specialized vocabulary, but even if you don’t speak the same jargon, your marketing agency should be able to distill your stated goals down into key steps that shape your marketing campaign. Simply decide what results you want to see – more leads? Website traffic? Repeat customers?
Marketing can do all of these and much more, but the specific tactics will vary. A full-service marketing agency has a wide-ranging toolkit that should include content marketing, social media, email marketing, blog writing, and other tactics that they put together into a complete strategy based on your input.
6. Enable Execution
When you’ve followed the other five steps above, you’ve done most of your part – now, you can turn execution over to the marketing agency. It will be up to them to handle the details of things like website design, content marketing, blog writing, social media posting, video production, and the rest.
Especially early on, you may need to enable execution by putting the marketing agency in touch with the right people on your side, ensuring they have access to internal resources (such as website passwords), and so on. It may sometimes be necessary to provide mid-stream feedback. All in all, though, it will be largely hands-off.
7. Measure Results
The rubber meets the road when it’s time for both sides to come together and measure results. How do you know, for example, if something like content marketing is really influencing your customer behavior? A good marketing agency doesn’t just dump the raw data on you, but extracts the insights – and the lessons learned.
At first, social media, blog writing, or content marketing might seem difficult to connect to your outcomes. But your marketing agency partner should be able to make the connections clear. Just as importantly, they should have detailed, actionable ideas about how to make the next month or quarter an even better one.
A Strong Relationship With Your Marketing Agency Keeps Your Marketing Campaigns on Track
These days, even the best marketing campaigns – tailored to your needs by experts who’ve worked extensively in your industry – take time to cut through the clutter and get heard by your audience. We estimate about 30 days for the first stirrings of positive change, and about 90 days to really gather steam.
The long time horizon is one reason why it’s vital to have a strong marketing agency relationship.
In the interplay between the marketing director and the marketing agency, both sides keep the other on track. You push your agency partner to clarify the data, refine the strategy, and reach further. They, in turn, provide a valuable perspective that can strengthen your team and your long-term results.
When it’s built on clear communication and mutual respect, it’s a win-win.
Contact New York Ave today to work with the marketing agency where relationships matter.