When you hire an Internet Marketing Consultant to augment your marketing team it is important that they maintain synergy with your offline marketing strategy. These strategies need to be complimentary, not contradictory.
So how do you go about integrating your online marketing consultant’s services with your other marketing initiatives?
Here are some of the things that should be worked out before you start working together:
- Communication with the marketing team.
- Branding and (visual) design rules.
- Goals and objectives.
- Timing of related campaigns.
- Congruent messaging.
- Reporting expectations.
- Intellectual property and non-disclosure.
Let’s take a look at each.
Communication with the marketing team
Establishing open lines of communication between the online marketing consultant and your marketing team, or one of your marketing managers at least, is crucial. It doesn’t matter how you communicate, just as long as there is a fast and efficient way to bounce questions off each other.
Some of the low-cost communication tools that I’ve used when consulting for businesses and internet marketing agencies include:
- Phone (so analogue, I know :)
- Email (can get messy).
- Web-based project management tools. Teamwork is my current favourite.
- Skype and Google Plus video calls.
- Evernote (shared access to documents etc.).
- Slack (experienced web users like this).
Make sure everyone involved in your marketing programmes is encouraged to discuss issues and ideas. This transparency will lubricate the moving towards achieving your goals and objectives far more smoothly.
Communication will also make you more agile when it comes to changes that happen at short notice. For example:
- The cancellation of a promotion, sale or campaign.
- Product or service gets sold out.
- A change in campaign direction.
You certainly don’t want your internet marketer spending money on displaying ads, pay-per-click (PPC) or social media advertising for example, when an offer no longer exists!
For tighter control over communications you may choose to set a specific tool as the official messaging platform to avoid the fragmentation of important discussions.
Branding and (visual) design rules
This goes back to the very beginning of marketing as a profession however it is very important that your brand is protected in all marketing communications. Having formal brand guidelines available, including colour palattes, fonts and logo rules is fundamental.
Your online marketing consultant needs to be aware of these brand guidelines and how they apply to digital media. This extends to the type of language used in advertising and the visual imagery that you use to portray your brand in ad campaigns.
Also, think about the themes used in your advertising. Do you want your organisation to be seen as: fun, sexy, cheerful, serious, happy, professional etc.
Goals and objectives
OK, these are super-duper important. Without goals or objectives to work toward, your online marketing consultant will have a hard time setting up conversion tracking. Conversion tracking is how you measure most of your online marketing metrics.
Goals are also needed to determine the return on investment (ROI) for your advertising budget.
Self check: if you don’t care about ROI you may be a financial masochist!
Your goals and objectives online should support your overall business objectives and just as in the offline marketing world, online goals should be progress checked regularly to ensure you are on track.
When I consult for an organisation my focus is on the outcomes. This is what I am hired for. The intricacies of getting them achieved is isolated from my clients and part of my own intellectual property.
Timing of related campaigns
This is where your communication tools will play another important role. While online and offline may represent distinct mediums, all advertising campaigns should be integrated both in terms of the message and timing.
What we are talking about here really is multi-channel marketing. That is, marketing to people via various mediums and tools, working together to reach your customers as they progress down the buying cycle.
Getting your timing right ensures that the right message is received in the right order and timed for best performance. In turn, your ad budgets are spent when they will have best effect and returning an optimal ROI.
Someone in your team should have the responsibility of ensuring the coordination of campaign timing across both online and offline channels. Remember to keep your online marketing consultant in the loop!
I’ve already touched on this above however it is worth restating the importance of consistent messaging in your marketing communications.
Even if you don’t have a set of pitch lines, blurbs or calls-to-action, you need to keep track of the imagery, tone and text used in your advertising. This is just as important as consistency in your logo treatment.
Again, someone needs to take leadership here to set the theme for your advertising. Your online marketing efforts should reflect the strategy your settle upon, albeit with the room for tweaks to better suit the digital mediums utilised by your internet marketing consultant.
Right from the start both you and your consultant need to be aware of the reporting requirements that the consultant must meet, and vice versa. Remember, some conversion information may need to come from you and passed back to the consultant for analysis (phone conversions for example).
While we all find reports very useful, they are time consuming to create. As such, the more reporting you expect from the consultant, the more time they aren’t spending on actually promoting your organisation.
At present I actually produce very few reports for my current clients and those that I do provide are simply spend summary reports. Luckily for me my clients leave me alone to get on with the job and can see the effect on their bottom line without me telling them what has happened. As long as I control the budget, I just need to keep generating those conversions.
If I begin talks with a potential new client and find they are obsessive about reporting I will most likely end the discussion. Pretty reports are great but you hire people like me to get goals or objectives achieved – let us get on with that.
It’s ok if you want overview style reports created of course. Just keep in mind it will dry up some of the consultants time or even increase your costs (ask your consultant). So, if you don’t really need it, don’t ask for it. Just ask for the reports that are actually useful to you.
Intellectual property and disclosure
This is a bit dull to talk about but everyone needs to know the rules around protecting your intellectual property and information disclosure. Your consultant will likely keep some of their methods to themselves too.
Most of this stuff will be in your contract but its worth mentioning here.
This is by no means an all inclusive list but they are some of the things that affect your day-to-day when working with an internet marketing consultant.
By making sure that I am a good fit with the organisations I work with I’ve found my working relationships to be effective and a lot of fun. I’d suggest you strive for a similar arrangement with any marketing consultant that you a thinking about hiring.
OK, that’s enough. Now go get those conversions!