First Time Buyers
Authored by: Karl Langston
When brand-marketing managers are struggling to keep their workload and personal life balanced, a new product launch can swallow up precious time. How can the workload be streamlined? Can another coworker jump in and save time? Would an external resource add value or just get in the way? These challenges are not unique for day-to-day marketing managers at any level in their careers. But, nerves can get the best of many professionals when they are shopping for new agency partners.
The term “first-time buyers” is a common phrase related to affordable home buying. Many factors related to the Great Recession (2007-2009) were tied to a mortgage bubble that led to the global economic downturn. U.S. banking institutions, both traditional and investment banks, were tainted and holding debt that could not be recovered. Additionally, millions of homebuyers were not completely vetted for a mortgage and quickly saw their home values vanish in less than one year.
As risky as the market was for homebuyers, brand managers can have a similar feel of risk when vetting a new agency partner. There are big shops that deliver creative for Fortune 100 companies. Other shops, either mid-level or small, exist in every major city throughout the United States. Talent can be found in many places but brand managers are not specific generalists. They are seeking to find an agency group that will provide creative services with innovative messaging and memorable brand impressions.
For marketers, sales teams and other businesses that sell anything, sales proposals and RFP responses are a way of life. They’re the tools that get many projects approved with corporate marketing funds. Detailed proposals will take many hours for the brand manager, but without this dedication, the responding agencies may not meet expectations with any other decision-makers. It can reflect poorly on the brand manager or become a bottleneck to getting the best marketing tactics in place before launch date.
The basic elements of a strong proposal include instructions that are easy to follow. Some key items include:
- Identify the type of partnership needed
- One-time project
- Phased project over time
- 2-year agency of record contract
- Elements to be delivered on the project
- Required vendor qualifications
- Potential third-parties, if needed by agency to complete the project
- Project timelines and estimated costs
When proposals have been received from prospective agencies, a quick review by the brand manager should include:
- Response received on-time and proposal is easy to read
- Creative elements identified with an agency name or business card
- Tactics supplied can be executed in many venues
- Suggested timelines fit within a desirable launch date
- Estimated costs fit within a desirable marketing budget
- References provided to seek other professional opinions
Now, the fun begins when agency chemistry meets brand chemistry. Outside of the creative impressions made with the colorful proposals, the top responders should be brought in-house for an interview. Decision-makers and brand influencers should be part of the vetting process as their feedback provides a balanced view for the brand manager.
Shortly after the purchase has been made and contracts are signed, important steps remain to jumpstart the launch program. Meeting in-person during kick-off meetings will ensure that all members understand the scope of work and can deliver efficiently. When this is not possible, video conferencing or similar meeting platforms can still be very effective. Set up internal checkpoints prior to major delivery milestones where both parties can be satisfied with “work-in-progress. “
So, who benefits from a solid agency selection process? Every team member touching the brand launch! No longer are the brand managers coordinating all the marketing plans by themselves. Look above the desk – there’s a team supporting your direction and willing to engage with all the right tools for a better brand position.
Creative Chimps’ Last Word.
When hiring a marketing agency, the brand manager puts a group of creative members together and creates momentum. Senior-level marketing professionals provide feedback and state their opinions why the brand should consider these marketing tactics. Together, a first-time buyer will feel relief that he’s surrounded with talent and can achieve many things.