Published by Abby Spung, October 13th, 2016
Investing in an outside agency to grow your business through integrated marketing often means a rather large investment. Yet more than money and a few weeks or months of work go into this investment. Like a marriage, the continued success depends on more than the wedding—more than a one-time expense.
Making a commitment to redesign your brand, website or launch a new company is exciting. You get to shop around to find the best people to support your vision and make your special day (the launch day, of course) the most memorable and rewarding.
While the launch day does represent the culmination of your hard work, it also represents the first day of your new bright and promising future. As long as you have a continuing plan.
For OffWhite, and many similar agencies, the goal in working with a client is to eventually step out of the picture and let them take over management of their brand. While planning for eventualities like retirement are a given in a partnership like marriage, this level of forward thinking is not always the norm when businesses partner with a marketing agency.
Many companies don’t want to invest in a corporate standards manual, brand book or curriculum development because they fail to see the value. However, if they experience any turnover, something that is almost always a certainty, they have nothing that explains to new hires how to do the work.
What You Can Do
With the intention of saving money or minimizing expense, many companies hire a marketing coordinator who has exposure to many facets of what we do, like graphic design, video production and marketing. This usually creates minimal overhead for the company as just one person oversees a variety of marketing areas. Yet these cost savings are not without issue.
It is often difficult to find someone who can do this and do it well. Because of the variety of mediums we manage it is hard to find someone who can handle all of that well, particularly at an entry level position. If a company does hire the right person, it is much easier to work with them and have everything set up properly to ensure the continued management of the brand. Yet because of the nature of this position, there’s typically a fair amount of turnover. How do companies then prevent the coordinator’s departure from degrading the business’ identity; does it leave with them?
If you develop a plan for the endgame and do so as early in your agency partnership as possible, you can prepare for turnover as well as what happens when you do finally part ways with an agency, which is really the nature of such relationships today. To know where you are going, you need to know where you have been. Investing in the a corporate standards manual or brand book also helps you track where you have been for the continued growth of your company. The exit strategy and your continued planning for success are just as, if not more, important than the initial project work completed by an agency – otherwise your investment gets lost.
What We Can Do
The model of just staying with an agency is not always feasible, particularly for smaller companies. When we work with clients we try to find a middle ground to develop templates that are sophisticated enough to represent the image they want to present but distilled to a level that someone of limited or varied expertise can do what they need to do in the files once we are out of the picture.
To do that successfully, however, we need to write a corporate standards manual or brand book that explains, without information overload, the step-by-step instructions of the process. This manual is the solution to the inevitable parting of ways between agency and business as well as any staff changes a company might see.
Take the time to understand your investment and what its continuing value can be. As an agency, it becomes frustrating for us when we see shortsightedness and know we can’t do anything about it. Having an end plan is just as much an investment for us as it is for the client. It protects their investment and it protects our time because we can show through our portfolio that this is something we are still proud to have contributed to. If you do anything for your next marketing overhaul, come up with a road map. Just like you plan in life with a career, savings and retirement, you must consider the endgame.
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Offenberger & White, Inc. (OffWhite) is an integrated marketing solutions company based in Marietta, Ohio, USA.
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