Top 5 Tips Digital Agencies Should Know for Selling to the Marketing Athlete

I was thinking about my first post to the Optify Lead Generation Blog.  It occurred to me that I have been purchasing services from advertising agencies, PR agencies, PPC consultants, and all forms of digital marketing consulting for the last … well let’s just say it’s been going on for a while. 

Given my experience as a one-man or three-person marketing show for technology startups, I thought I could best help by communicating what I think you need to know to sell digital marketing services to me. At Optify, we refer to the multi-channel marketing person as the Marketing Athlete. The marketing athlete is generally good at all the marketing tasks – just not a professional at all of them.

Note: It’s very different for large companies so I’ll stay focused on the small and medium-sized businesses.
You are selling to someone that has limited resources – meaning people and budget. Generally speaking, there’s probably 1-4 people – tops – on the marketing team and they use agencies to fill in the resource gaps. As you know, it’s easier to dial expenses up or down when working with agencies or consulting services, rather than hiring employees and then letting them go. Furthermore, as the team leader, I probably have someone who’s good at one or two of the marketing channels, but not all. As the agency, you are filling in the gaps, but longer term you really want to create value and retain me as a client – ideally on a retainer and not just a project basis.
Remember, I am not asking for your help because I am curious about my marketing performance or I just feel like experimenting. Depending on the size of the company, I am reporting to the company president or another executive leader that has great expectations on demand generation and wants results – now.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Selling to the Marketing Athlete

Tip #1. Speed. Efficiency. Did I mention SPEED?

I have budget, but everyone wants INSTANT RESULTS on marketing programs these days. One of the big reasons I am hiring you is speed. I am hoping you are going to come in and show me how you’ve executed successfully for companies like mine and have demonstrated measurable results – quickly and efficiently. If I can send you marketing content and you can leverage our social media, you have a system for creating/loading the email, creating the landing page (extra credit for doing A/B testing), pushing the information to salesforce.com and pulling the results from analytics and giving me a report – that’s smoking hot. Fast is GOOD!

Tip #2. Intelligence means No Arguments

Really, save me from arguing with the sales team. My personal favorites.. ‘We don’t get enough leads!’ – followed by ‘Yeah, but those leads suck!’ I need help at the top of the lead funnel and then the ability to tell what programs generate the most and highest-quality opportunities. The advent of Blogs, Content Marketing, and other Social Media has not made the marketing job easier – it’s much harder now. I need the ability to see WHERE the interest is coming from and how to optimize the inbound marketing channels to create the highest quality and best ROI on my programs.

Tip #3. Reporting SUCKS!

Yes, online marketing is more measurable than many programs – the word is out AND the VP of Sales and the CEO dearly love to see it in a dashboard or a daily, weekly, or monthly graph. I blame salesforce.com for this – everyone has to have a freakin’ dashboard! Before Optify, every week I would engage in what can best be described as the “Spreadsheet Olympics”. Had I known Excel was going to be so critical to my career, I would have spent more time studying the nuances. One of us on the marketing team spends a ridiculous amount of time exporting and importing data from google analytics, salesforce.com and a host of other tools to show how our programs are generating leads, likes, followers, friends, opens, bounces and at some point opportunities and sales.
If you have a means by which you can save me from this, please tell me IMMEDIATELY and REPEATEDLY (because I have A.D.D. or I wouldn’t have this job in the first place!).

Tip #4. I want YOUR STUFF to work with MY STUFF

Since 2008, I’ve pretty much stuck with Joomla for the website and WordPress for the blog. Here at Optify our website is WordPress and that’s just fine. In fact, I was reading an article in TechCrunch that WordPress is now powering 14.7% of the top million websites in the world and 22 out of every 100 new active domains in the US are running WordPress. In my mind, here’s the most amazing stat: The world now has 71.2 (71,291,570) million WordPress Sites!
It would seem obvious that if you are going to offer me tools to help, please make sure they work with my stuff. I do not want to go negotiate/bribe the Dev Team, IT Team, or my OWN team in order to make changes that either require a lot of web developer time OR lock me in to something that I can’t change. Flexibility, time, and cost matter – a lot! The days of proprietary systems that try and lock customers in by virtue of technology are over – we should all know better!

Tip #5. YES, it does come down to MONEY

I get it. I’m not sure everyone does, but I do. In the agency/services business, you get what you pay for. More than once, I have counseled CEOs, COOs and CFOs on this .. if you think you’ve schooled your agency by working them down on price – you probably didn’t. Instead, you’ve successfully managed to get every junior person on your account and now have exactly what you didn’t want. As the agency, you have to make money but it has to make sense to me and be predictable. Furthermore, please realize it’s a lot easier for me if I’m not signing a bunch of POs for software YOU are using. Again, one of last things I want to do is go run around negotiating POs on everything. If you are going to have me sign with other vendors and manage those costs… what is your value-add in this process? Offer me a solution that can be cost effectively built in to your service.
I realize these might not be ‘universal truths’ but they are hot buttons for me. If you have a couple of hot buttons to add – please let me know!

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