Technopreneurs and tech business leaders still assume that “marketing agency” implies logos, branded brochures, and a fancy website.
“In the digital era, Marketing is not shouting about the stuff you make but it is about the stories you tell” – Seth Godin.
Here’s what we’ve learned after talking to hundreds of technology firms about their experiences with their marketing agencies.
Metrics vs. Image
Marketing agencies are either guided by their pursuit to provide new business, or their drive to improve a firm’s image. These firms are night and day, with half the firms operating as demand generation platforms and the other half working as rebranded PR agencies. Some agencies focus their efforts on driving more leads to your firm, and others focus on improving your image. One is strictly utilitarian and an extension of a technology business and the other is a more remote addition that focuses on PR work.
Tech firms have different needs, so let’s talk through the difference:
Marketing agencies as demand generation platforms:
Marketing agencies who focus on driving business to a Tech firm view themselves as an investment rather than a cost… and they operate accordingly. If a marketing “tactic” isn’t going to drive tangible return on a Tech firm’s marketing spend, then these types of marketing firms want nothing to do with it.
While image agencies have teams of “creatives” and are driven by holding their ears to the ground and measuring sentiment, demand generation agencies have “data junkies” and crunch numbers for breakfast. Rarely will an image agency have key performance indicators or other metrics, and (in the unlikely event they do) they definitely won’t show those numbers to the Tech firms they serve.
A Tech firm marketing agency that is focused on generating a return on marketing spend will constantly look at the money the Tech firm is paying, and the clients that the marketing agency is able to drive to the Tech firm. Tying a new client directly to what drove them to become a client is vitally important to these firms, and while it’s nice to have a pretty ad with the firm’s logo in a fundraiser brochure, it’s even better to have clients being driven to the firm. If a numbers-driven agency can’t tell a Tech firm the exact amount leads or revenue that they have driven to their doorstep, then these marketing agencies aren’t satisfied. Granted, driving leads and driving revenue are two very different goals:
Driving for leads: These marketing agencies focus their actions on driving leads to your firm. If you receive a steady flow of calls, email submissions and contact form submissions, then these agencies perform well.
Marketing agencies dedicated to driving leads to your firm focus on the number of the leads you receive. As that number rises, that agency believes that they are doing a better job and delivering on what you are paying them for. However, the more leads you have, the more work is needed to qualify those leads to see if they are the right fit for your service. If you get a hundred leads in a month, you have to respond to each of those leads. If they aren’t a good fit for your firm, then you’ve used a significant amount of time on nothing. There’s a big difference between optimizing for the quantity of leads, and optimizing for the quality of leads.