When a company or brand is ready to reach out to a digital marketing agency for help, the conversation almost exclusively starts in one of three ways.
- I have been doing (insert digital marketing tactic like social media marketing, pay per click, etc) and it’s not having the desired impact.
- I have been told I need to do (insert digital marketing tactic).
- My team is overwhelmed with (insert 5 other higher priorities) and I need to show digital marketing results to (insert someone important).
Most of our competition will start their sales pitch by “you should do pay-per-click advertising”, or “social media is the way to go” and “we have been doing social for our clients for 6 months and seeing great results.”
Regardless of how our competition handles their sales approach, our experience tells us that before recommending a specific digital marketing strategy, even if it is one we are currently crushing for other clients, we need to take a step back and address, at least to us, a pretty basic set of questions.
Getting the basics covered can help you start out on the right foot with your digital marketing agency, address the problem, and bring lasting results. Without a shared understanding of the answers to these questions, most brands and businesses get pushed down the wrong digital marketing path. Likely not on purpose, but because it’s what they know.
My experience tells me that if you start out on the wrong foot, eventually you should be prepared to be asking question #1 again shortly, albeit to a different marketing agency.
What are those questions?
- What are your challenges, goals, and objectives?
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your marketing budget?
- What is your timeframe?
Challenges, goals, and objectives
Your challenges give us insight into what your perceived problem is. It allows you to share some things that you have tried to solve that problem and it allows us to talk through the outcome so far. If you fell short of your goals or didn’t scale as expected this can likely be tied back to the problem. Understanding your overarching objectives can also help us understand your thought process to scaling the business as problems are solved and goals are met.
It leads to a discussion on customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value and product/service life cycles. All too often the discussion starts with “I need to do digital marketing because I know it works.” Digital marketing absolutely works, but after 20 years I am positive it’s not a one size fits all solution.
Who is Your Target Audience
This question, whether simple or complex for your business, gives us insight into several facets of your organization, the first being do you know who you are marketing to. This is likely followed up with a question about your target market’s journey to purchasing your products or services. This information also gives us insight into what your marketing plan may or may not look like. If you have no plan, or don’t know who you are marketing to, or the value of marketing to them across the product/service lifecycle hasn’t been discussed, we need to take a step back. We can certainly help you with these questions, they just need to be addressed before we decide which digital marketing channels are right for you.
What is Your Timeframe?
Knowing when you are looking to solve your challenges and goals gives us insight into how serious you are about digital marketing and what your expectations are. If you are not serious about solving the problem, that’s ok. Our goal then becomes to arm you with some information and tips to help you as a brand or business owner make some strides with digital marketing. Whether we work with you or not, we want you to succeed. The timeframe also helps set expectations right away. Quick wins can absolutely happen, but at times an upfront investment needs to happen in order to see the growth you are looking for.
If you don’t have one, this tells me that our conversations again need to take a step back and that I need to understand your margins. Understanding your margins can help understand your maximum customer acquisition costs. Understanding customer acquisition costs can lead to discussing customer lifetime value and a full product/service lifecycle. If you are not apt to share your marketing budget I can tell you based on experience we are both going to waste each other’s time. The goal is to get a realistic starting point. From there, benchmarks, real-time dashboards, and analytics come into play allowing all parties to understand what the investment is bringing to the table allowing future conversations to become about scaling results.
Why Are These Questions Important?
I laid out several scenarios above but let me give you background on a recent conversation I had where a prospect called me and said he needed a new website and that he needed to do pay per click advertising.
My response was standard. We can and have been doing that for clients nationwide for over 20 years. I would love to help you, first, let’s take a step back to make sure those are the most effective digital marketing channels to accomplish your goals and objectives.
After leading the prospect through the four questions outlined above I discovered the following:
- His overall objective was to build his brand. He had been seeing success via traditional brick and mortar sales and wanted to expand into e-commerce but he didn’t know how.
- His target market was not well defined, it needed to be more focused and better understood.
- Customer journey only entailed product purchase, no thought had been given to retention, referrals, or building lifetime value that would have allowed for higher initial customer acquisition costs.
- Customer acquisition costs were tight with slim product margins.
- The marketing budget didn’t support the growth goals and the timeframe for launch would have had him competing directly with his brick and mortar efforts.
Saying yes to building a new website and pay-per-click advertising would have yielded short-term revenue for E/Power Marketing but ultimately would have set both of us up for failure. Asking the right questions can set the stage for success and a long-term, win-win partnership.
Are you ready to discuss your challenges, goals, and objectives? Do you know exactly who your target audience is and how they buy your products or services? Do you have a marketing budget and know what your timeframe for results is? If not, that’s ok! I’m happy to talk things through with you so we can establish a solid foundation for true digital marketing success. Digital marketing works, but if jump in without answering some foundational questions, you could be wasting time and money.