Construction product manufacturers spend huge amounts of money on marketing and external agencies, but how do you know you’re getting the most out of them?
A few months back we wrote about how to structure a successful marketing team and how to choose the right marketing partner for your construction business, but how do you get the best from that team?
This post is all about helping you to get the very best from your marketing partners.
By marketing partners we mean external marketing resource; it’s likely to be one or a series of agencies but could also be a freelancer or mix of specialists. For clarity and to make sure we cover all options, we’ve used the term marketing partner.
The team here at Pauley Creative has worked both client and agency side: we’ve worked as construction product marketing managers, project managers, account managers, and freelancers. After a bit of debate and an old fashioned brainstorm with a good cup of tea and (more than) a few biscuits, here are our 11 top tips.
1. Be transparent
Your marketing partner needs information from you to be able to do their job well. When we debated this topic we started with transparency on budgets to enable suitable recommendation of tactics and activity.
But as the discussion evolved it quickly became clear that this was just a very small part of what’s important.
It is really about complete transparency: Business objectives and goals, understanding of products and offerings, challenges faced by the business, the resources available as part of the marketing activity (both budget and resource) and then transparency on results as a consequence of marketing activity. We’ll also cover this a bit more in measuring effectiveness.
Think of this part of your relationship in the same way as you would deal with a new starter. Even with a conservative estimate a new starter would typically have an induction period of 1-4 weeks covering each department, product training etc.
Invite all the key people who work on your construction product marketing for a day (or two) for a product and people training session. This should include:
• CPD presentations
• Factory/Facility tour
• Meet the sales teams
• Meet the technical teams
• Meet IT (especially important for web builds/crm/process projects)
• Meet senior decision makers and marketing influencers to understand process and any pain points
This will give the relationship a solid foundation to move forward from, which also forms part of the next tip…
2. Get everyone on board
Meeting the key individuals and the sales and technical teams will not only help them understand what marketing is setting out to achieve, but talking about the following will also help to address any concerns and make people feel like part of the process:
1. How it will help the business
2. How it will support them in their jobs
3. How they can help us do a better job
This is really about communication: sharing knowledge and ideas to increase visibility and accountability of the marketing team and reduce resistance to new tactics and changes. It will also get any inevitable ‘road blocks’ out of the way.
It shouldn’t be a surprise when any one of your agencies or freelancers calls one of the external sales team for information on a project or a case study. These contacts provide better information and have further key contacts with contractors and architects that can turn a basic picture caption story into a double page case study full of useful snippets of information.
The businesses whose sales, marketing and technical teams work well together will undoubtedly do better than the business whose lack of accessibility provides a real barrier to getting things done.
3. Be accessible
Daily contact, especially in the early stages of a new partnership or project, is critical to the effectiveness of that relationship.
It’s important to consider if you’re working with a freelancer (or any of the key contacts are part-time) when you can get in touch with them. If you have a freelancer doing two days a week but those days are not the two days that you’re available to talk to them, getting things done effectively will be much harder.
The success of a content strategy will depend on the accessibility of the technical brains required to write content that is actually any good. Your content lead will need to work out how the technical bod(s) they need as their source for information like to work. Hopefully if Tip 2 went well this process will be much easier.
4. Be committed
This is an interesting one. A bit of a bugbear for our head of projects but one that I can fully understand given the pressures of an internal marketing manager.
You have to be as committed to meetings and actions as your marketing partner is. You wouldn’t accept your agency turning up to a meeting every month with incomplete actions but it’s surprising how often client actions run across meetings.
There are a few simple ways to make this as easy as possible for you both. Set up regular meetings 6/12 months at a time, yes they may need to move occasionally, but setting them in advance and giving them importance will give regular monthly check points for ensuring activity is all on track.
When setting actions and deliverables give them realistic timescales and deadlines, with one person accountable. Reporting back on this at each meeting makes it harder for things to slip, no matter how big or small.
Commitment to meeting and actions will drive the activity and ultimately results.
5. Define Expectation
What do you expect from your marketing resources and what do they expect from you?
What are the key objectives and how will you measure them?
Understanding how long the development for a given point is going to take at the beginning will help both sides understand the process and what’s involved. You can see on our post on the value of content marketing how long it takes to go from no content to content being a dominant driver in traffic to your website. This will not happen overnight. It could happen quicker but that’s dependent on activity, campaigns and ultimately budget.
Set SMART objective and make sure you measure them:
(also see Tip 11).
6. Trust the partnership
The relationship that you have with your marketing team is a partnership. If you’re asking for advice and recommendations trust their experience and judgement. They are accountable for the success of their recommendations and will work to demonstrate effectiveness for you. You’ve got nothing to lose.
If you’ve been through a suitable selection process you should be able to trust their credentials and know that the team you have in place can do what is required to meet the marketing objectives.
And if you implement these tips into the working relationship, anything that’s not quite right will be highlighted pretty quickly!
7. Budget effectively
Understanding budget, in line with understanding of the business overall, will allow recommendations on where best to place the marketing spend. This should consider the channels, priority actions and what you will get the most out of.
And also by effectively I also mean collaboratively… use the resources around you to make sure the ‘ball park’ figures submitted for board approval are in line with the activity that needs to take place. It’s not good when you realise that the spec tool you need is going to take the complete annual web maintenance budget and more!
Paying for a thinker to define a strategy without the budget to deliver the strategy will be frustrating for everyone. Retainers will cover day to day activity and basic web updates/revisions but budgeting for over and above campaign based activity will deliver better results that complement day to day activity.
8. Question everything
‘Why’ is a power question. Ask your partners: What? Where? When? Why? and Who? (if you want to actually get something done). This questioning will prevent the relationship from becoming stale and will keep activity pushing forward.
The failure to do this is, in our opinion, the biggest reason that client/agency relationships can be cyclical.
Another important element of questioning is to make sure you’re getting the right information.
A review of a new client’s adwords account highlighted that £4,000 a month on PPC was resulting in XX clicks but no ‘conversions’ or revenue as a result of the spend. The client was trusting that the information they were being supplied with was correct and on face value the ‘Clicks’ looked good but it wasn’t actually generating any results.
9. Communicate effectively
Whilst elements of this are included in Tip 3 and Tip 4, this is more about using collaborative tools to help effective communication and day to day management. External partners don’t have the same access to shared drives, servers and other internal resources.
Using tools such as google drive to share live working documents is very useful; tools such as Toggl can help manage time effectively and transparently; skype and join.me can support regular meetings without losing valuable time traveling, whilst Base Camp can be used for managing tasks across a range of projects.
10. Join it all up
This for us comes into two parts:
First, understanding (or at least knowing) what other business activities affect marketing but is not always directly linked to marketing, can help define any required marketing support. This may include activities such as new innovations, events and business direction.
All too often your partners will find out about these initiatives too late to recommend (and implement) the best tactics or strategy.
Secondly, it’s joining up the different elements of marketing that can be carried out by different people or a variety of external resources. Is your web and PR activity in-line, does content go live on your own website first to prevent online ownership issues that can impact SEO?
11. Demonstrate effectiveness
Marketing is only part of the solution to meet the needs of the business; measuring and refining activity will help to improve it.
Report on the SMART objectives (resulting from Tip 5).
Ask your marketing partner to provide good useable monthly reports on whatever activity they are working on. You can find out more about creating useable and effective web reports here.
Then use the internal information and your CRM system (which hopefully integrates with your website) to report on what actually resulted from the marketing opportunity.
Was a CPD booked? Was a specification written? Did the project go ahead with your products?
But that is a topic for another post.
So that’s our take on how to make the most of the money you spend on external resource; it’ll make the difference between working well together and working well together and getting great results.
We’re sure this isn’t the end of the top tips.
Have we missed anything?
What works well for you?
Tweet us and let us know 🙂