As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. That isn't to say you can't get high quality for a good deal, of course, but it does mean you need to keep your eye on the quality of what you buy, not just the price at the bottom line. For example, buying the cheapest paint at the home improvement store sounds like an amazing deal; unfortunately, it also means you'll have to use more of it to cover the same area as the premium paint would, and you may end up having to repaint with a more expensive product later on. You get what you pay for in marketing, too. The quality of marketing offered by your media partner is more important than getting marketing for a bottom dollar, and in this article we'll talk about why.
What you need to remember first and foremost is that you have to choose the right marketing — and the right marketing partner — for your business. Marketing isn't one-size-fits-all, and finding the right fit can take time. How much marketing you need and who you're marketing to will depend on the stage your business is in; after all, a seed company doesn't need the same kind of advertising as an international corporation. You need to have a cohesive understanding of your business' needs in order to choose an effective marketing partner. But what does that look like?
Choose Someone Who Can Conceptually, Creatively, and Strategically Align with Your Marketing Goals
Selecting for your needs can seem daunting, if not outright overwhelming. Your first step should be narrowing the list down by your actual budget, then further narrow the list by companies that sound like they'll align with your goals. When you sit down with a marketing team, you should evaluate them on several key criteria:
Range of services
Function/category expertise and chemistry of the marketing team
Communication between your business and your media partner
Marketing team's ability to fit with your company culture
Vetting execution excellence
Strategy for deliverables according to your marketing plan and end goals
Creative talent to meet or exceed your vision
Digitally capable and mobile ready
Willingness to work with partners offering specialty or niche services
This list is intended to determine a few basic things, namely if your marketing partner can meet your needs, if they’re dedicated to success, and if they have a history of happy customers. If a marketing company can't give you good answers for these criteria, then they're not a good fit for your business, no matter how cheap they are.
A Partner That Focuses on Price Means They're Not Focused on Key Aspects of Your Business
Major corporations came together to fund a study on marketing ROI for small businesses, and the results shouldn't be surprising. It may be frustrating to hear, but there is no causal link between dollars spent and responsive results. Now, that may tempt you to think, "If that's the case, then why should I pay more money for marketing at all?"
Quite frankly, it's because marketing results are linked entirely to the expression of a message and the repetition of that message. Bottom dollar advertising will get you a bottom of the barrel message, and that, in turn, gets you an audience that's unlikely to convert, if you get much of a real audience at all.
There is a direct correlation between how much you pay a marketing company and how much that company is invested in your company. Believe it or not, marketing — whether it's external or an internal department — needs a certain level of involvement with many aspects of your business. It may sound obvious that marketing should be involved directly with understanding ROI and consumer tracking/segmentation, however, if you're fostering the right kind of innovative company culture, involving marketing earlier in the development process can improve consumer orientation and interest. What's more, if a marketing company is concerned with aspects of your business like customer service and brand strategy, they can help you improve communication and connection with your customers that will, not only improve the customer experience, but also improve completion of the consumer journey.
Buy Expertise, Not an Audience
It's important to remember that you want to pay to reach a quality audience, not just a sizable one. However, you also need to recognize the difference between paying for expertise, and paying for a shortcut that will only hurt you in the long run. For instance, a marketing provider that offers you a certain volume of links in a certain period of time ought to be a red flag; this can be indicative of a company that uses tactics that Google, and other search engines, will downrank you for.
This is part of why it's imperative to understand how you — and your marketing partner — ought to be defining success. What you're paying for shouldn't be considered only in terms of number of ads produced or how often they're scheduled. This comes back around to our last point: you want a company that's going to be as invested in your success as you are.
Targeting and Reaching the Right Audience Can Cost More
Once you understand what you should be paying for, you begin to understand why it can be more costly. You still need to stay in budget, of course, but it's important to realize that paying for an expert's time to understand and target the right audience can be expensive. In fact, mobile ads alone are rising in price because good marketers are spending smarter.
Again, the right marketing isn't necessarily more expensive. The focus is on getting the right bang for your business' buck. Paying for effective marketing means ads that are released on the most effective schedule to reach members of the right audience, which is an audience that's going to turn around and take advantage of your products and services.
You pride yourself on the quality of your products and services offered by your business, and your marketing should express that to your audience. The quality of the marketing you choose can affect how they view you and your business. If you get what you pay for in marketing, isn't it worth it to pay for more than just the cheapest option?