Finding a marketing agency is easy. You'll find us online or most likely have a referral from one of our other clients.
But choosing a marketing agency is more difficult. Some people use a list of criteria, others resort to laborious proposal processes. But what you really want to know is what we are like to work with – if there's a fit between how you think and how we think, and between how you work and how we work. And that’s a question that requires more intuition than process. It means getting past the process (and hype) and beginning a conversation.
We are not good at sales, so you will probably have contacted us first (do that right now!). If you are nearby, we'll ask to meet your decision-makers. The intent of our first meeting will be to determine if there is enough synergy to create a successful outcome. That means we'll have a frank conversation about a range of topics, not just your new product or the new website you're interested in. We will also discuss your budget and the price for our services.
Often, prospective clients have questions about previous marketing work we've done, and this is a great way to judge whether we can meet your needs. We can walk you through a few relevant past projects and give you some idea of process, cost and timelines (as permitted by the terms of NDAs with other clients).
If we think we can't add value to your business, we'll say so. Similarly, if you don’t feel comfortable for any reason, we'll expect you to say so. Frequently, the decision-makers at the meeting are willing to proceed to an engagement. It really is that simple.
Assuming that we both feel comfortable about the fit, we'll proceed to define the scope of the project with you. This will include the inputs, scope of work, timeframe and deliverables. We'll document these in a simple engagement agreement along with the price and our standard business terms. Sometimes, if the project hasn’t been clearly defined, we'll perform a needs assessment.
Because we will have already discussed our prices and your budget, the price shown on the engagement agreement will be what you expect. You then provide approval and the engagement begins.
At this point we will not have solved any of your marketing problems, nor will we have prepared creative concepts or other materials. Some agencies are prepared to 'pitch' for work by expending creative energy, time and resources. We aren't. We don't have the time and we aren't prepared to speculate what might be the right solution for you without getting to know the problem we’re trying to solve.
One of the earliest processes we installed at Hale! Marketing was the "7P marketing planning workshop". If you engage with us, you'll likely experience one of these in some form very soon after the engagement agreement is signed.
The workshop is tailored and scaled to your particular marketing challenge. It contains elements of a briefing but we'll also be jointly working together to explore the items that affect the success of the project and how the project should be approached. You'll probably want different people in this session than were in our initial meeting. Often, it's a process of discovery for our clients just as much as it is for us. This is when the project scope is most likely to change.
Sometimes, new clients want to reduce risk by beginning with a small engagement. For these clients, the planning workshop itself can be the first engagement and is a good way to find out if we can work together.
But we don't insist on holding a workshop – there are already too many meetings. If the project is clearly defined and all the inputs are readily available, then we can dive right in.