by Elaine Fogel

Do Your Different Marketing Suppliers Understand Marketing?

Bigger picture marketingSounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Do you outsource your company’s or nonprofit’s marketing tactics to different suppliers? For example, do you have a separate supplier for Web design/development, print graphic design, blog maintenance and/or hosting, direct mail, etc.? If yes, do they understand marketing?

Here’s a good example:

A friend has a Web design/hosting supplier on retainer for her company’s Web sites and blog. With the exception of adding blog content, every time she needs to make a change, she has to call the supplier.

Today, I was teaching her how to use HootSuite to help make her social media (SM) marketing easier to manage. The program allows her to manage all her SM profiles in one platform.

Since she was complaining about getting hundreds of blog spams daily, I went into her WordPress administration panel to see what was going on. Now get this… The comment feature was turned off! The supplier’s solution to eliminate her spam was to turn off the ability for readers to comment on her posts! That’s like cutting off your nose because you have a cold. 🙁

Social media is a two-way street

As anyone in marketing will tell you, blogs and other social media give us ways to connect and engage with our target audiences. It is a two-way street, not a one-sided blast of promotion. Removing the comment feature defeats the purpose of writing a blog altogether.

In addition, the blog design does not include any sharing buttons or calls to action. There is no place to sign up for the newsletter or connect on social media sites. There are no graphic images in each post – which have been shown to attract more attention.

So, my question is: what good is this supplier if its people do not understand marketing?

There are many marketing suppliers eager to take your money and do what you ask. But, what do they tell you when your requests make no marketing sense? Do they advise you on the bigger marketing picture? Do they ask what your marketing strategy is so they can help your organization reach its marketing objectives? Many do not.

My advice?

No matter what your organization’s size, have a plan in place before you contract with suppliers. They won’t know where your organization wants to go, or what it wants to accomplish unless you tell them.  They can do a much better job when you provide them with a brief or written instructions of your project or goals.

If your marketing suppliers are specialists in their microcosm of the marketing world, you can’t expect them to know everything about marketing. It may be cost and time-efficient to work with a marketing generalist or strategist who has a wide range of marketing knowledge and can help you define what you want and need. Agencies can do that for you. Hiring an inside marketing specialist to project manage your organization’s marketing needs is also a good move, if you can afford it.  Try to ensure that your internal marketer has the right knowledge and experience level to match your organization’s needs and is up to date on marketing studies and trends.

One thing to remember – marketing is not an exact science. When you work with a marketer who “gets” the bigger picture, you can expect to test and tweak your tactics until you get positive results.

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