Hey there, business owner. It’s time to take the plunge and outsource your marketing. You’ve allocated the budget to not only pay your outsourced marketing firm, but also to cover the expense of printing, mailing and perhaps even some advertising. You’ve reviewed the proposal and are about to sign the contracts. But what do you need to do to be truly ready to outsource marketing to a third party?

Stop thinking about your new vendor as “outsourced marketing.”

Instead, consider this team as customer advocates. They are going to be spending their time trying to figure out what your current and future clients want and need, so that they can craft messaging accordingly.

This is going to be a painful process. It’s not like outsourcing your bookkeeping, which might be a mess but at least nobody else sees it. If you choose to outsource marketing, you have to be willing to hear that your baby is ugly. If your old marketing is bad and your new marketing partner is honest, they will let you know.

Politely, of course. But nobody can sell something that isn’t any good.

Ask for reports, but don’t expect results

There’s a reason that marketing generally takes a long time to be effective, even in the digital age. That’s because the market is busy doing other things besides checking out what you have to offer!

For example, if your outsourced marketing provider starts writing blogs, don’t expect to get a thousand hits to your website in the first  day. But do look for them to offer you reports that demonstrate steady growth.

Marketing is about craft, but it’s also extremely scientific. If your outsourced marketing provider isn’t giving you data and showing you how they run real experiments, you may need to look elsewhere.

Ask what you can do to help, and keep your commitments

Any serious outsourced marketing firm can tell this story a hundred times over: the client who was excited about a big project but kept dragging their feet on getting the content delivered.

Sure, you can write the content for your own website and brochure. At least the first draft, anyway. But if you don’t meet deadlines and send over information in a timely manner, your outsourced marketing firm isn’t going to be able to create customers out of thin air.

Ask how you can help. And keep in mind that the best way to do this may be…

Be Prepared to Get Out of the Way 

A major part of what your outsourced marketing firm will do is creative work. And we know that creativity cannot be rushed. So if your new partner says they need a week to work on some designs, don’t call every day asking for updates. Give them the space to do incredible work (and pay their bills on time so they can feel your respect.)

This may be the most difficult aspect of mental preparation for outsourcing marketing. We all want to see how our business is being promoted, but in reality the best place for you to be is only in the room when you are invited. Creative types need the freedom to be able to bat around ideas before getting designs, copy or concepts to a stage that you can review.

So now you know what to do. Thinking you want to outsource marketing at your company? Use the checklist above before you make the call.

Robby Slaughter runs a business process improvement consulting company in Indianapolis, IN.