Marketing Questions to Ask

14/07/2016

Arch Communications director Matt Youdale was speaking at a business event in Lincoln this week, when he was asked for the best questions to put to a marketing company when considering whether to use their services or not. Now he’s had time to think about it, here’s Matt’s response…

It was an excellent query! Let’s face it – because it’s their day job, marketing agencies should be pretty good at promoting themselves. So probing their credentials with a few carefully chosen questions is important. Here are a few suggestions:

What do you specialise in? It’s hard to be an expert in everything, especially when marketing covers so many different disciplines. Asking this question can help you find the support that is right for you. At Arch Communications, our particular expertise is in wordcraft and storytelling – helping organisations to develop a narrative that will make them stand out, writing that narrative to make it as compelling as possible, and persuading the news media that the story is worth using.

What are your weaknesses? This is a pretty cheeky question, but will help to tease out whether an agency is being honest about their abilities. Anyone who claims not to have a weakness is probably not to be believed! At Arch, we don’t claim to be experts in online marketing (search engine optimisation, pay per click etc) or graphic design. We’re happy to recommend other companies with the right skills to meet your specific needs.

Can you provide examples of similar work? If you’re seeking a particular type of marketing service, then it’s useful to see evidence that the agency you’re talking to has done work which is relevant and of the right quality. If it helps to reassure them, we’re even happy to put potential customers in touch with previous clients.

What’s your big idea? It’s always worth testing an agency’s potential creativity in tackling your marketing challenge. You can’t expect them to reveal too much until you’ve committed to giving them the work, but you do need to be assured that they’re not just going to revive something they’ve used before which may not exactly match your need. We find this one tricky, because we get so excited by possible new projects, that we tend to give away far too many of our ideas!

Will you offer a discount in return for a testimonial? This can be asked of a company offering any type of service, not just marketing. It helps to test a business’s commitment to keeping their customers happy. It’s something we offer quite regularly – but discount or no discount, we only expect a testimonial if the client is completely satisfied.

How will you prove the impact of what you’re offering to do for me? This is the killer question! Anyone can make boasts or claims to secure a bit of business. But how can a piece of marketing be shown to have produced a direct benefit? Good marketing companies won’t promise the earth, but they will suggest very practical ways of assessing impact. For example, a lot of our work at Arch Communications is about raising awareness. So we can assess the amount of media coverage achieved, and how that translates into more phone enquiries, more hits on a website or a growth in reach on social media.

After all, it’s important to realise that marketers don’t actually sell a client’s product. Our job is to tell people about it so that they’re interested and actively seek it out. The rest is up to you!