Category: Marketing and Brand Development
In comparing notes with a lot of my clients, I’ve learned that marketing firms come in many guises. There are no strict industry standards, so where marketing company names are concerned, it’s a kind of free-for-all.
One company may do primarily advertising or public relations. Another may design web sites. To expand its public perception and client base, a firm may throw marketing into its name. And while it has a core competency – advertising, public relations or web sites – and has added marketing to its name, that doesn’t mean it also possesses the expertise to perform the complete range of marketing services.
Because marketing firms can have so many identities, it may be difficult to evaluate whether or not a particular firm is reliable and a good fit for your needs. When you interview any marketing, advertising, public relations or web design company, you should be prepared to ask some qualifying questions.
1. Do the firm’s talents and experience match the needs of your company?
2. Is it convenient to meet with the account people?
3. Does the firm provide personalized customer service?
4. Is it up-front with its fee structure?
5. Will your work be done 100% in-house?
6. Will the firm provide references? (If so, be sure to check these out.)
7. Finally, and probably most importantly, do you feel a genuine rapport with the people who will
be servicing your account?
Taking marketing to a higher level
Marketing actually refers to more than just advertising, public relations, promotion, etc. It incorporates the company culture and positioning, market research, business/product development, interactive/mobile marketing, audio/video production, community and press relations, as well as all of the sales and training functions of an organization. Basically, it encompasses all the activities involved in the transfer of goods/services from the producer or seller to the consumer.
Very few companies offer all the services required to take marketing to the next level but call themselves integrated marketing firms. Integrated marketing as a concept can be defined as making all aspects of marketing communication work together as a unified force rather than permitting each aspect to work in isolation.
Why is that so important? I often refer to the findings of a three-year, 75-company research project conducted by the Promotion Marketing Association (PMA) Educational Foundation, Inc. and Northwestern University on the ROI of integrated marketing. That study found a direct link between a company’s commitment to an integrated marketing strategy and improved profits.
For your business or organization, integrated marketing can work across all channels to maximize your message and your resources. So how do you know if a single firm can give you all the services of an integrated marketing company?
This list of qualifying questions should help you begin to make that evaluation.
1. Can the firm demonstrate that it has a base of integrated marketing experience?
2. Is the firm’s focus on providing business and marketing solutions, not simply on doing ads or
making web sites?
3. Will the firm take the time to understand your company or organization’s goals and needs?
4. Does it share with you in depth how it partners with clients to reach their business goals?
5. Will it provide case studies supporting past successes?
6. How many of the marketing services it provides are actually produced in-house?
7. Does it offer a full range of communication tools?
8. Does it outline viable ways to maximize your marketing budget?
9. What tracking systems does the firm utilize to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing
A true integrated marketing firm will evaluate your company’s current position – as I like to call it, the 3 P’s and I: Product, Price, Place and Integration – as well as your business goals, then develop objectives, strategies and tactics to reach those goals within a defined timeline and budget. Integrated marketing strategies take advantage of opportunities to leverage your resources across all channels. Integrated marketing tactics are result-driven. Initially you invest in developing a targeted message and creative, then utilize these in communication channels selected for their effectiveness, thus maximizing your investment as well as your impact on the intended audience. True integrated solutions will result in cost-effective synergies that save you money, making budgeting more efficient and achieving positive results.
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