How To Tell If It’s Time To Fire Your Ad Agency

Should You Fire Your Ad AgencyGoing through an ad agency review for a is both difficult and energizing. Every meeting brings new insights. You see opportunities, solid creative and begin to see how this could help bridge some of your sales gaps.

Make no mistake, the effort involved is overwhelming in identifying and selecting a new marketing communications firm. Programs are on hold and the team is making do because the compelling new marketing theme/tagline/look is just around the corner. That’s the hope anyway.

Is it time to fire your ad agency?

Is It Time To Fire Your Ad AgencyMark Mitchell and I discuss this topic in length in his recent blog Is it Time to Fire Your Agency? posted on Whizard Strategy.

While there are a few good B2B client/agency relationships, Mark has seen over and over that find the majority of them are not very strong.  The result is that the client doesn’t get the results they should.

We explore 10 key situations that undermine a strong relationship.

  1. They don’t understand your business
  2. Purchase motivations are more complicated and nuanced than, “The customer will make more money selling your product”
  3. They don’t ask why
  4. They think increased spending is the only way to succeed
  5. You don’t have access to the leaders
  6. Constant turnover of your team
  7. What is their measure of success?
  8. A focus on creativity over strategy
  9. You feel taken for granted
  10. You can’t imagine the agency leaving you

More importantly, we provided you an actionable Ask Yourself tip to each one to help you better understand if that might be your situation.

There are a lot of agencies who do a good job of servicing their clients. Mark notes, “In my experience, there are a lot more who make a number of these mistakes. It’s like any good relationship, you have to work at it and not just take things for granted.”

What if the problem is you?

Time To Fire Your Ad AAgencyMark and I also see a lot of good agencies who can’t do a good job because their client gets in the way.  I know – I’ve been that client. Here are some ways this happens.

  1. Thinking that you are the creative person
  2. You hold back information
  3. You are cheap

Agency client relationships are the best when both groups are open and honest about the issues the business is facing and what it will take to overcome them. When these relationships are true partnerships, both companies will ultimately succeed and grow.

Good Selling!

About The Authors: Mark Mitchell is a Sales and Marketing Consultant who specializes in helping business owners and senior executives in the building materials industry overcome difficult sales problems. Using his extensive hands-on experience, he shows them how to creative effective strategies to identify and eliminate blind spots that allow them to get past the roadblocks that keep them from realizing their revenue goals. Click here to learn more about his one-day workshop “Selling Today’s Building Materials Prospect.” Or sign up for his monthly building material marketing newsletter here. 

Greg Bonsib gives his perspective from the client side. Greg has extensive experience in working with agencies in his marketing leadership positions at ODL, Owens Corning, Rubbermaid, Sentry Safe and Zenith Products. Greg also publishes an industry leading blog on Channel Marketing.

Active Search Results (ASR) is an independent Internet Search Engine using a proprietary page ranking technology with Millions of popular Web sites indexed.

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26 Roadblocks To B2B Marketing Success

Profit inhibitors are roadblocks to your B2B marketing success.

This checklist will help you think about possible barriers that you are facing with your brand, product or service. More importantly, it will get you to focus on how do you plan to overcome the profit inhibitors that are impacting your marketing programs?

Profit Inhibitors

Do They Apply?

Plans To Eliminate?

1.  Absence of customer oriented thinking
2.  Inexact or inadequate marketing objectives
3.  Internal communication failure
4.  Inadequate distribution planning
5.  Lack of innovation in product, packaging, etc.
6.  Budget deficiencies in communications
7.  Failure to dominate in communication media used
8.  Misunderstanding customer motivation
9.  Too generic marketing approach/messages
10. Inadequate understanding of market and customer opinion
11. Failure to “merchandise” or follow through
12. Over-promoting (dealing) or too much “price” concern
13. Information loss from management to point-of-sale
14. Giving promotion jobs it cannot do
15. Watered-down messages due to too much committee approval
16. Failure to build-in measuring systems for all plans and programs
17. Failure to define – and influence – the corporate image
18. Imbalance between communication activities
19. Copying competition in communication activities
20  Failure to build extra benefits of quality image of product and company or service
21. Failure to update marketing strategy/ organization
22. Working in silos
23. Inflexibility of policies
24. Inadequate knowledge of competition
25. Lack of or stagnant web and social media content
26. Failure to take advantage of “competitive edge”

 What Profit Inhibitors did we overlook that are barriers to your B2B marketing success?

Good Selling!
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Are You Using a Zero-Based Marketing Communications Strategy?

Advertising EffectivenessDesigning hard-working marketing programs is not a simple “black and white” situation. There are numerous choices, many different methods and no single optimal combination exists.

It is, in effect, a collection of ideas, approaches and options that change continually to meet changing needs, new marketing opportunities and growing competitive challenges.

There are, however, strategies to help make marketing efforts more cost-effective. These include coordinating your marketing with your direct selling, developing a zero-base budget and establishing clear, measurable objectives for every dollar spent.

THE MARKETING BUDGETING PROBLEM

“I know that half my advertising dollars are wasted, but I don’t know which half”

quote-half-the-money-i-spend-on-advertising-is-wasted-the-trouble-is-i-don-t-know-which-half-john-wanamaker-193077

Sound familiar?

For decades, companies have tried to make their marketing dollars work harder. They have used concepts such as target marketing, niche marketing and positioning to help build sales by generating leads, reaching decision-makers and even asking for the order. But a problem remains: marketing and sales have never been completely coordinated.

The result is that money is allocated to advertising because everyone knows advertising is necessary. And sales people are told go out and sell because most B2B products and services are sold that way.

This approach has worked in the past, but the changing business climate will continue to force companies to re-evaluate the entire process. To borrow a buzz-phrase, tomorrow’s marketing will have to work − not harder − but smarter.

AN OPPORTUNITY

Consider your marketing spend in terms of its contribution to profits…instead of just cost of sales

Are You Pricing For Volume or Profit?Instead of basing the marketing communications budget on projected sales, the sales requirements can be used to establish a zero-based project approach.

In this way, the actual point when the sale is closed determines what materials and how much should be spent to make the direct selling effort as cost-effective as possible.

A DIFFERENT BUDGETING APPROACH

The first step is to establish a benchmark for both the cost-per-call and cost-per-sale

Cost Effectiveness of Direct Selling Worksheet

Using the chart, determine the total cost for your entire sales force, and then the average cost-per-call and cost-per-sale. (At this stage, do not factor out individual salespeople).

The resulting numbers are a measure of your current marketing efficiency, arid will serve as a gauge of the cost-effectiveness of your total future program.

Next, using the chart below, break out your new accounts and those you have had for at least one re-order. Depending upon market factors, you may also want to break out the accounts by region, season, or some other criterion.

What you are measuring here is the cost-effectiveness of your existing direct-selling effort, looking for the types of accounts which are most profitable and those which are least profitable.

Cost Breakdown by Account TypeAs a general rule, your marketing depends upon the profitability level of each category. Those categories where direct selling is very profitable should have programs designed to support the sales person, helping to either increase the dollar volume per account, or lower the average cost-per-sale.

Those categories where the profitability level is low should have programs designed to replace the sales person as much as possible.  This can be accomplished effectively with programs such as automated marketing to lower the cost of pre-qualification inquiry fulfillment.

Once you have determined the cost-per-sale for each category, you should establish sales objectives. The first is to maximize a sales person’s productivity, and to do that requires establishing the prime job function:

  • Developing new business leads
  • Making presentations
  • Maintaining face-to–face contact at existing accounts
  • Trouble-shooting problem accounts

Do You Have A Customer Engagement Strategy?Obviously, some or all of these functions could be present in all categories, but by assigning the sales person a prime function, you are taking the first step in determining:

  1. The type of program (support vs. replacement) that will result in a lower overall cost-per-sale
  2. The message that each component in the program should carry
  3. The amount to be spent to deliver the message(s)

Given this information, you are now in a position to correlate all your advertising, promotion and direct selling expenses to sales.

Program effectiveness can now be tracked. And you can begin to consider your marketing spend in terms of its contribution to profits…instead of just cost of sales.

Good Selling!