When you hire a marketing team, you expect to hire professionals. It stands to reason that you expect a certain success from them. But not all marketing professionals are created equal. And not all clients are created equal. The late David Ogilvie said that, “Clients get the advertising they deserve.” If you want your marketing team to succeed, you need to set it up for success. Intrinsically, you know this is true for an in-house marketing team. But it’s just as true when you outsource your marketing. There are a few things you don’t have to worry about when you hire an outside marketing team. For instance, you should be able to assume they have the tools to do their job: training software office space In other words, whatever is not company-specific or niche specific, they should supply. However, you need to supply whatever is company specific or niche specific. And there’s a lot. Sadly, I have seen companies contract marketers, then ignore them. The companies assume that the marketers can do their job in isolation, and that’s one less thing to worry about. But washing your hands of marketing, just because you’ve hired a team to take care of it, is irresponsible. At best, your marketing will be inefficient. There will be too many missed opportunities. You will spend money chasing the wrong customers in the wrong places. At worst, it might be counterproductive, delivering opposite brand messages than people get from your operations. Here are a few simple things you can do to set your marketing team up for success. Answer their emails and phone calls. Yes, this might seem obvious, but I have seen companies that respond like lightening to customers, like a baseball pitch to suppliers and like a water-logged rug to their marketing team. When marketers need input for content they are creating, for ads they are running or for opportunities that pop up, you need to supply that input. Consider this scenario. You are running ads in a niche magazine. You have a good deal on an annual buy. The deadline for renewal is coming up. Your marketing team wants feedback from your sales team as to whether calls have been coming in from magazine ads or whether the message for the upcoming year needs to be changed. But for the past two weeks, nobody answers their calls. How can they make a good decision? Consider another scenario. A reporter wants some input on the direction a certain technology is headed. They need to quote someone in your industry. Your marketing team is trying to get your comment, but you don’t respond. The deadline passes, the opportunity is lost. The effort your marketing team spent building relationships to get that call went to waste. Your marketing team is one of your top faces for customers and potential customers. Don’t ignore them. Keep them informed Your marketing team has no way to guess what you are doing. In a dynamic business, you are constantly doing something new or tweaking your process. Those changes are marketing opportunities. If your marketing team is not aware, those opportunities are lost. Consider this scenario. You’ve found efficiencies in servicing customer equipment. As a result, you are more often recommending servicing rather than replacing. The average age of replacement has been pushed back a couple years. But your marketing team doesn’t know this. They are still running pay-per-click ads based more on replacement than on servicing. Sure, you still do both, so the ads are not wasted. In fact, you’re business is shifting only 20% toward servicing. But that’s an inefficiency of 20%. That could mean thousands of dollars of misplaced advertising, or tens of thousands of dollars in lost business. Consider this scenario. Several employees have decided to participate in a charity run. They are training on their lunch hour. They are collecting sponsorships from other employees. Therefore, the company has decided to sponsor them (or the run itself). If your marketing team had this information, it might develop some content for local blogs, for running blogs or for other publications. It would be great to reach potential customers who are also running enthusiasts. It could be great for search engine rankings. It could be a massive draw for attracting new fit employees (the kind who don’t max out their sick days each year!). But, your marketing team doesn’t know, so the opportunity is missed. At very least, make sure your marketing team is on all email notices and newsletters. Ideally, bring one of your marketers to weekly meetings. Maybe have them sit down regularly with key people from customer service, sales, product design, employee committee, etc. Let them run free Over-management can be just as harmful as lack of communication. Marketers are creative people. You hire them for their ability to create opportunities and to come up with and execute ideas. You hire them for their expertise in the various fields of marketing. If you try to micro-manage your marketing team, three things will happen: You will waste much of their time that you could spend developing marketing plans, ideas and products. You will waste a lot of your time that you could spend building the business and increasing profits. Your marketing will suck. And that will cost you the most of all. By all means, set up periodic reviews to understand what they are doing and to give broad direction. What is broad direction? We want to focus more on midsized operators. Let’s shift our efforts to reaching them. We want our brand to be more speed-focused. Our sales staff are focusing on how fast we can deliver, so our marketing should, too. We’ll be introducing two new membership levels next year. Let’s get ready to promote those heavily. Our recruiting costs have gone up. Let’s feature our employees more in marketing, so that more people come to us. Then make sure your marketing team creates a plan that meets your goals. Make sure they update you on progress. And work with them to tweak direction along the way. Your marketing team will be only as successful as you empower them to be. Give them the information they need, both when they need it and when you have information to share. Give your marketing team direction without micro-managing them. If your marketing team has the tools and the know-how, and you give them the information and direction, they can achieve great things for you.