If you’re in charge of a company’s marketing budget, there is a good chance you’ve wished that pot could get a little bigger. Especially when it comes to hiring outside resources like production vendors or agency partners.
But here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You don’t have to keep everything in-house or farm it all out.
Make it your goal to engage the internal resources you have to their greatest potential. Then, strategically use your budget where an outside partner can round out the capabilities your team already has.
Here are five steps you can take to get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.
Step 1: Assess your team’s strengths
Where does your internal team most excel? Are they great at doing the research and getting the hard-hitting facts? Executing marketing materials once they have a concept in–hand? Blue-sky thinking that needs grounded in strategy and tactics?
Identify your team’s strengths so you can decide what they can take on and what would most benefit from an outside partner.
Step 2: Identify potential pain points
Is your team simply spread too thin?
Do you struggle to get a creative product vetted through leadership?
Is the complexity of the task—like a full-blown marketing plan—too much for a bootstrapped internal team to tackle?
Knowing those potential roadblocks can help you see where your partner can step in (and where you might need to pad a timeline; see step 3).
Step 3: Write a project brief
Yes, even if it’s just an internal exercise and your agency partner will ultimately provide you with a creative brief. Doing your due diligence can promote much more productive conversations with your outside partners.
By taking the time to ask “What do we know? Are there major gaps? What info do we still need to gather?”, you can start to pinpoint some of those holes yourself, ramping up your agency’s efficiency (with your time and dollars).
Step 4: Never skip discovery
Whether it’s done by you or an outside resource, it has to happen. Everyone needs to start with a strategy founded in a deep understanding of the audience and the challenge. In our marketing agency, it runs the gamut. We have conducted every scrap of research for many projects, but we have also taken existing research and done the work of pushing, pulling and extracting the value. Part of an ego-free culture means we don’t shy away from jumping in at different stages of a project.
Some discovery deliverables you’ll want to be armed with include:
- Target audience personas
- Competitive audits
- Interviews and informational sessions (hearing the actual words being said by a leader or key stakeholder is an invaluable lens)
Strategy in the wild, experience design
Sometimes, you’re so close to your own audience or objective that it can be hard to see how the audience will respond. When a client needed to wow potential donors, we were brought in to concept a holistic experience, putting ourselves in the shoes of this influential audience. Because of the limitations of a non-profit budget, we used our audience insights to concept a unique and, ultimately, successful event blueprint for the client to execute on.
Strategy in the wild, project-based creative
When a global brand already had an array of background materials and research, they called on treetree to swim around in the pages of content to organize years of disparate brand work into a cohesive and compelling story. When the narrative was complete, we handed off the copy for the brand to do what they knew they could do: design internally.
Step 5: Don’t get distracted by big, shiny deliverables
Sometimes, it’s the least glamorous deliverables that are the most necessary.
For example, maybe your team doesn’t feel it has the expertise to provide the right feedback or direction in an area such as printing or video production. That’s when you might consider bringing in a partner to manage that relationship and the review process. Then, by the time you review, you can lean on the experts without getting down in the weeds of production or procurement.
Or maybe you need experience design. Site visits, competitive shopping and audience research are the building blocks of any solid strategy; but they aren’t always flashy. This is the important up-front work that you might not frame on a wall but can make or break a final deliverable.
Need to find a strategic marketing partner?
Get in touch for help rounding out your already-awesome team’s capabilities on your next marketing initiative.