Ask Gemma: Money Wasted
We have spent thousands of pounds on marketing with over nine agencies in the last three years. We still don’t know what we had from it can you change this?
It is utterly disappointing when you put so much money and trust into a marketing agency only to be left with seemingly zero results. For whatever comfort it may provide, you aren't alone in this.
Businesses strike deals with ineffective agencies all the time for one reason or another. Maybe you thought the marketing agency was a good match, but they didn't quite understand your product or mission. Maybe you didn't give the agency enough information about your goals. Or maybe they promised you the sun, moon, and stars, but all you got was a rock.
The difference between a mediocre service and your case, however, is that something is missing. The marketing agencies should have reviewed with you what changed, what worked, and what didn't work. And, if there was no change, why? It seems you didn't get that, and here you are now, scratching your heads, wondering what all that money spent got you?
Fortunately, there's a way out of this enigmatic state. You'll just need to put your best investigative foot forward.
Step One: Go Back into the Archives
For each marketing agency you've worked with, create a separate desktop folder. See if you still have any email records of your correspondence with them and sort accordingly. If you have any meeting notes, add those to the appropriate folder, too. Compile anything you might have from when you worked with them.
Step Two: Review Your Documents
Have someone from your in-house marketing team, front of house, or the person who was the main point of contact, look through these documents and find what strategy you and the marketing agency had agreed upon.
For example, did marketing agency one, promise to create social media campaigns? Did marketing agency two, promise to optimize your email CTAs? Were there any changes in plans along the way? Follow the paper trail and see what it tells you.
Step Three: Compare Promises with Campaigns
Take a look at your marketing campaigns from when you employed those marketing agencies. If they didn't align with what they promised they would do, then there's your answer. You don't know what you got from this experience because they actually gave you nothing.
If they did follow through with the plan, it's time to turn your attention towards your company.
Sometimes marketing agencies repeatedly fail to deliver results because something about your business does not translate to marketing success. This doesn't mean that your business is broken and doomed. It just means that how you're presenting and organizing your information and product, and perhaps what you're asking for from the agency, may not be ideal for market optimisation.
Consider if any of the following applies to your business:
- You haven't optimised your SEO.
- You are not consistent with your online presence.
- Your brand is underdeveloped.
- Your audience focus is "everyone," i.e., too wide.
- Your audience focus is too narrow or unusual for your local market.
- You don't have a customer service/support team to follow up on leads.
- You don't like the idea of developing a social media presence.
- Your view of marketing is strictly advertising.
All of these things can limit how effective marketing efforts can be. And an agency will only do what you ask them—they aren't going to do extra work for free. If I were to go into your office today, I would look for signs of all of these things, particularly SEO. If you haven't updated your SEO, you aren't showing up on people's radar. Period.
Step Four: Before and After
If you want to see where you are after nine marketing agencies, take a look at your numbers three years ago and today. And look at all the numbers. Revenue doesn't always tell you a marketing campaign was successful. It just means that you made more money that year. Look at the number of visitors to your webpage; clicks on CTAs embedded in emails; engagement on social media posts; how many leads you captured; conversions.
If your audience engagement has improved, then something worked or is working. Pinpoint your most successful campaigns and repeat.
Step Five: Follow Through with the Sales Funnel
When a marketing agency steps back and returns the reigns to you, you need to pick the reigns back up. An agency will set you up for success after they're long gone, but if you don't follow through, it'll be like nothing happened. Marketing is not just putting your name out there. It's telling a story, converting customers, and building trust with your clients. Marketing is about generating interest and loyalty, both of which fall on either side of your sales funnel.
The Strength of Your Business
Before you look for another marketing agency, try to develop in-house solutions to solve internal discrepancies first. Marketing strategies aren't going to work if your brand is inconsistent with what you are, you don't know your target audience, and you're not even showing up on search engines. It's worth the month, maybe two-month-long, process. Don't forget key foundations and traditional marketing tactics - these are often the lifeblood of your business and help provide reassurance for customers.
Try putting someone on this task. Once you've cleaned up here and there, then consider launching some stellar marketing campaigns. Perhaps go back to the strategies that the marketing agencies you hired came up with and see how they fare. You already have a first draft of the plan—now it's time for your team to bring this to the finish line.
Gemma Angharad Chat with me here