HelpMeHelpYou_MarketingFirmWhen we are hired to create a website or brochure, or to write blog posts or web copy, we want our clients to be happy with the outcome. Even more important than their happiness with the marketing product is the end result. We want what we do to help drive leads and move prospects through the purchase cycle. To create real results, we need our clients’ help.

Following the lead of my team members, Jenna on graphic design, Allison on copywriting and Peter on web design, here are five suggestions on how to create a productive working relationship with a marketing firm.

1. Talk About Goals

What kind of results are you looking for from your marketing? Simply saying you want to grow sales is not enough. To create the right size campaign, we need to know how much growth you want. The level of activity we will recommend for 5% growth is dramatically different than 50% growth. The plan will also look different if you want to sell more to existing customers, reconnect with former customers or reach entirely new ones.

2. Talk About Your Customers

I can’t help the chiropractor who tells me everyone with a spine is his customer. Despite the fact that he is wrong, there is no way to reach everyone. Even companies like Nike and Ford, with their enormous budgets, narrow their focus to talk to just a segment of the population. Think about the people most likely to buy your product and spend the resources to talk to them more often.

3. Talk about the Past

What types of marketing activities have you tried? What has worked and what hasn’t? It helps to see examples and spend a little time discussing why something worked or didn’t. If it was timing or lack of support, it might be worth trying again if you can find a way to fill in the missing pieces. Sometimes, however, you do all you can and the campaign or strategy just didn’t work. It helps to know that too.

4. Be Realistic about Constraints

Good marketing is about more than just a good idea. To execute a strategy. you need resources: time, money and/or people. Don’t embark on a Twitter campaign if  you know your staff isn’t going to post content. Don’t plan a direct mail campaign or attend a trade show if you don’t have the manpower to follow up on the leads. Don’t spend a lot of time talking about big TV campaigns if you know your annual budget is only $20,000. In order to build the very best plan for your business, it helps to know what the constraints are on the front end.

5. Share Results

Marketing relationships get better over time. The more a strategy firm learns about your business, the easier it is for them to make better and better recommendations. Also, some things won’t work. The sooner you know that, the sooner you can back up, regroup and move in another direction.

The bottom line? If you want great results from your marketing firm, talk to the them early and often.