By David Wolf
Hiring a marketing-services agency for your self-storage business is an important decision that involves evaluating a lot of criteria to ensure you hire the right partner. There are many questions about the best path to take when it comes to the assessment process. This overview separates the fiction from the facts.
Fiction No. 1
You should only work with an agency that has self-storage industry experience.
This is not necessarily true. Finding a marketing agency with expertise in the self-storage industry and an understanding of the drivers that impact tenant acquisition is certainly beneficial, but its not a deal-breaker.
Fiction No. 2
Case studies and client references are not crucial when selecting an agency.
This is incorrect. Case studies should be a key criteria of the agency-selection process. Evaluating samples of work is also very helpful. Ask for examples that are relevant to the engagement and scope of services you seek. Lastly, ask for client references so you can discuss their experiences working with the agency youre considering.
Fiction No. 3
The ownership of creative and digital assets is not a major concern.
Its important to define who maintains ownership and the rights of creative and digital assets in your relationship. For example, some marketing agencies offer a template-hosted solution, whereby it skins a website using your brand and creative assets on its Web-operating platform. This is a cost-effective solution that provides a proven site layout and positive user experience. However, if you terminate the relationship, you may be left without a website.
I strongly advise that you maintain control of all digital assets as well as website and marketing materials in any relationship you enter. It ensures you can terminate the relationship without any business interruption and protects you if something adverse happens to the agency.
Fiction No. 4
The best way to hire an agency is through a lengthy request for proposal (RFP).
The best way to evaluate a marketing-services agency is to have it do a project. If youre asking for a specific deliverable that takes a lot of time to produce, compensate the agency for its time and resources. You may also want to consider hiring a consultant to help you write your RFP, particularly one who has experience in evaluating agencies.
Fact No. 1
Capabilities evaluation of an agency is really important.
You want to make sure the agency youre evaluating is capable of delivering the marketing services you require. For example, what services make up the company's core revenue stream? Can the agency provide relevant case studies?
Fact No. 2
Account service and the resources dedicated to your account is important.
Its very important that you evaluate the depth of the agencys account-service team and the amount of interaction and implementation theyll provide. Its also essential to define which party will be responsible for certain tasks in the engagement, especially if youll be doing some of the implementation internally. Establishing these guidelines at the onset of the relationship will ensure faster implementation and delineate the roles and responsibilities of each party.
Fact No. 3
Its difficult to determine what to pay an agency.
It can be tricky to establish the value an agency can bring. One approach is to do a cost-benefit analysis whereby you evaluate the cost of your time or the cost to hire an experienced in-house expert vs. hiring an agency. In addition, youll need to consider the cost of regularly investing in education on the latest marketing trends, especially in digital advertising.
Fact No. 4
A customizable, online solution is important.
If you use an agency with a template solution, you may be limited in what you can do with your website content. Specifically, youll want a content-management system that allows you to access your website and make changes to layout, copy and functionality as well as implement onsite search engine optimization campaigns.
To ensure a good user experience, make sure the website is responsive. This means it will render and conform to any device (desktop, mobile, tablet) a prospective tenant is using. It should also offer seamless navigation and the ability to make unit reservations.
While this list in no way covers all the misconceptions and realities about hiring a marketing-services agency, it touches on the most important aspects. Much like hiring any outside contractor, you need too first determine your needs, get referrals and look for companies in which you identify. Finding the right partner can help you take your self-storage marketing to a whole new level.
Dave Wolf has been the managing partner of Linkmedia 360 since 2004. Hes responsible for a number of innovative strategies that have enabled the companys clients to use online, mobile and social media to maximize the impact of their lead-generation campaigns. For more information, call 877.843.1091; e-mail [email protected] ; visit www.linkmedia360.com .