When I started working at my first B2B marketing agency (many years ago ☺️), our money was spent on industry magazines, radio advertising, and sending out thousands of brochures with sales teams – possibly getting 1 hit per 100 brochures, if we were lucky.
Now we can reach millions of people globally and it doesn’t have to cost much at all – as long as you have the right preparation and a great team working with you to create engaging content.
Marketing CAN cost a lot of money. But that doesn’t mean it has to.
As a B2B business owner, and particularly a small business owner or a start-up, finances are not always readily available – and you certainly don’t want to waste the funding you do have.
So here’s a little secret I’d like to share with you… it doesn’t matter if you have a small marketing budget, as long as you are getting the best value out of your B2B marketing agency and suppliers (and therefore, making your budget work harder for you).
Sounds simple? It can be.
So, how can you do that?
How to get the best value from your B2B marketing agency
Prepare design guidelines
It doesn’t have to be a textbook, but if you create a great PDF document that you can provide to any design contractors, you’re going to make marketing a lot less expensive for yourself, and a lot less time consuming and confusing for the designer. Simply send the guidelines across with your brief for the job, and there will be fewer questions back and forth (which means less hours banked).
The guidelines should include:
- Your logo, and any instructions on how it can and can’t be used
- Your corporate fonts
- Your corporate colour palette with Pantone or CMYK breakdown
- Your preferred style of image (with examples)
- Any other graphics elements that are part of your branding
Prepare a brand pack
This is where you can keep all of the things I’ve mentioned in the first point.
Dropbox or OneDrive are both great options for this – and both are free to a certain extent. In the folder you should put:
- Colour and mono versions of your logo in high res jpg, eps, png and pdf formats
- Brand icons if you have any
- Images and illustrations that are particularly relevant to the business and marketing
- Font files, if you use non-standard fonts
This folder can then be shared with your designer or marketing agency when you provide the brief, meaning they don’t have to hunt around for all the elements they need and saving time (again :).
Write a detailed brief
When you first make contact with your designer and/or copywriter, be very specific about what you want done and the outcome you expect. Don’t give them any waffle and get to the point.
If you DON’T want something done a particular way, tell them.
If you want a specific style of writing, tell them. Don’t give them basic instructions and then get annoyed if they come back with the wrong design. Be very specific and give them plenty of information up-front. The more time they spend asking you questions, the more money you spend paying for their time.
It’s also important to do all of this via email and then explain over the phone. Briefs provided only via a quick phone call can be misinterpreted and mean your project takes longer.
If the project is something quite major (such as website design or a series of brochures), create a project timeline. Map out the timeframe so everyone knows what is involved, when it’s due and who is completing the task. This is a better option than having one final deadline as it enables you to review the creative at set stages in the project and provide feedback, meaning any amends can be done throughout the design process rather than being huge pivots at the end of the project.
If you work alone, you don’t need to worry about this, but if you’re in charge of a team of people, allocate one person to liaise with your suppliers. Don’t have emails going back and forth between 10 different people as this will not only confuse your supplier but will also waste their time and your money.
For large projects consider using a project management tool like Monday.com (our tool of choice that we 💞). This enables feedback to be collated in one place and senior team members to ‘check in’ on the status of a project without having to ask lots of questions.
Prepare a brand story document
When you’re marketing your business it’s important you keep to the same style in order to establish your branding. And that includes in your writing.
If you’re getting a contractor or B2B marketing agency to do any copywriting for you, create a brand story document that explains to them the guidelines for your brand’s content. That includes:
- The ‘tone of voice’ and style of your brand’s copy
- Specific words and lexicon you use
- How you write specific words (such as your business name and products)
- Your brand values and USP
No doubt when you’ve been compiling your marketing project brief you’ve seen some great ideas and some terrible ones, great content and terrible content. Print them off or save them into a file in the cloud. That way you can show your suppliers what you love vs hate so they know what to do and what not to do.
Be open and honest
You need to be completely honest with your suppliers or agency. If you don’t like what they have done in a first draft, give them a full explanation of what you do want in the second draft. Get into specifics. If they are good at their job, and if they value your business, they’ll work with you to achieve the best results for your brand and budget.
Just remember your suppliers aren’t mindreaders, so you need to be clear and specific about what you want.
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