In my recent article, we learned how to select an advertising agency, with the best skills needed for your exact business challenges. In this article, we’ll learn how to best manage this agency, to ensure that both parties are aligned on key goals and performance metrics. As you’ll learn, it’s not as simple as hitting “autopilot,” crossing your fingers, and hoping they succeed. You’ll need a watchful eye along the way, helping to get your agency back on track when it starts to veer off course. Let’s learn more.
1. Define business goals
It all starts with business goals. Your agency should be crystal clear about the budgets they need to work with and what you define as campaign success. Sometimes it’s upper funnel goals, like increasing your overall brand awareness metrics. But more often it’s lower funnel goals, like hitting a desired revenue level and matching return on ad spend (ROAS) or customer acquisition cost (CAC). It is very difficult to manage everything at once, so set yourself a very specific goal to aim for. For example, a ROAS in the 5x-10x range, or a CAC not exceeding 33% of your average order value (AOV).
2. Define target customers
Every business is different. If you’re a B2B business, you typically target specific companies that would be logical buyers of your products. Or, more likely, specific employee roles, within those companies. For example, if you sell social media marketing software, you can contact a marketing manager or social media manager from those target companies. Understand that not all businesses are created equal. Maybe you’re targeting employees of large Fortune 500 companies, or you’re targeting employees of small and midsize companies who can better afford your products. So, lock in your target company size and target employee roles within those companies, knowing that you may have more than one target persona to research.
If you are a B2C company, you are most likely targeting specific customers who would be most interested in your products. Is it men or women? Are they high income, well educated or mass market? Are they 21-34 or 55+? Does geography matter, if so, add your target states or cities of residence? And if you can overlay personal information from various psychographic data sources, even better. For example, is your client more of a “fitness fanatic” or an “arts and crafts” type, to allow for media targeting at that “interest” level. The better you understand your current customer base, the easier it will be to identify the right lookalikes to target. Again, there can be more than one character here.
3. Define the media mix
Mastering your marketing funnel and media mix is a deeper conversation I’ve written about in the past. But, at the highest level of understanding, your marketing funnel has three parts: (i) the upper funnel, which builds awareness of your brand; (ii) the middle funnel, which drives consideration for your products; and (iii) narrow the funnel, generating transactions and revenue for your business. And, there are different media tactics to consider for each stage of the funnel. For example, you might consider TV media for the upper funnel, social media for the middle funnel, and search engine marketing for the lower funnel. That’s why it’s so important to understand your goals, that’s why we use the right media to help you achieve those goals. So, at this point you decide how much of your budget to spend on each funnel stage (e.g. top 20%, middle 30%, and bottom 50%), what tactic for each funnel stage (e.g. , social media for funnel medium), and which specific publishers for each tactic (e.g. spend social media budget equally between Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter).
4. Define analytics and reports
The best ad agencies these days are as much tech and analytics companies as they are creative and branding companies. They’ll make sure your website and campaigns are set up so that most clicks, contacts, and transactions can be traced back to their original source, including assigning cross-marketing attribution metrics. channel. And, they’ll build the dashboards that make it easy for you to see which marketing efforts are working toward your desired goals and which aren’t. Thus, they can easily “compound” or “reduce” any winning or losing tactic within the campaign. It’s important that key business goals are measured in these reports, by funnel stage, by channel, by publisher, by campaign, by creative, etc. Be sure to receive these summary reports at least once a week. , so you can track their progress and make changes quickly, before wasting a lot of money on a “losing” campaign. And be sure to use the correct metrics at each stage of the funnel (e.g., CPV upper funnel, CPL middle funnel, and CPA lower funnel).
5. Set communication frequency
Your communications with your agency depend on the size of your budget and how often things change. If it’s a relatively small budget and the campaign is largely optimized and static in terms of changes, you may be able to get away with monthly meetings. If it’s a large budget, the campaign is still being set up, and there’s a lot of testing and editing going on, you’ll likely need weekly meetings with your agency. But meetings will be needed for two-way communications. You’ll want to make sure the campaign achieves your goals, and your agency may need guidance from you on anything it’s unclear about, or if there’s a “fork in the road” that needs of your contribution.
6. Define roles and responsibilities
Consider setting up multi-level roles and responsibilities in your business and agency. These levels most likely include: (i) executive oversight (e.g. a CMO in your company and a strategy manager in your agency) who is not too involved in the day-to-day, but who is kept abreast of the big picture issues; (ii) the day-to-day leadership and management of the project (e.g., a VP of media buying at your company and an account manager at your agency), who “lead” their subordinate teams and keep everyone on task and on the plan; and (iii) the teams in the trenches living and breathing the campaign and the resulting data (eg, a Social Media Marketing Manager in your company and a Head of Social Media in your agency). Make sure you have the right teams in place in both your business and your agency, to optimize at every level – strategic, planning and execution.
7. Rinse and repeat
Just because you’ve followed the process above doesn’t mean your job is done when you’ve completed the six steps above. This is an iterative process: every quarter you have to go back to step one, to re-examine everything and adjust to any changes in business goals, customer learnings, media learnings, etc., then reset the campaign in Stages 2-6 for new learnings. . Schedule quarterly campaign review meetings with your agencies and internal teams at this more strategic level.
I know it sounds like a daunting process, but it’s necessary to make sure you’re not wasting your marketing dollars down the toilet unnecessarily. A strong, well-optimized relationship with your ad agency could be the difference between stable sales and profits this year, or up 100%. If you need any help here please don’t hesitate to contact me as I have worked with many agencies in the past and know which ones are currently ‘best of breed’ where the rubber hits the road , with smart teams. generate a high return on investment on your investment. If you need help thinking through this process, you know who to call!!
George Deeb is a partner at Red Rocket Ventures and author of 101 Startup Lessons – Entrepreneur’s Handbook.