We have a bunch of new reporters and researchers joining Sherpa this fall, so I spent a day last week writing up a formal mini-handbook on how to conduct marketer interviews for them.
#1. Always ask the marketer for his or her job title, even if their PR contact gave it to you. PR *always* gets the marketer's job title wrong.
#2. If a marketer gives you data that's a nice round figure -- such as, "We got a 50% response rate," assume it's not an altogether accurate number and dig deeper. In real life, data rarely comes in rounded numbers.
#3. Ask for the names of all agencies and vendors who helped with the campaign. Assume the marketer will not remember correctly, so you'll have to double-check with the actual agency.
I'm pretty darn sure that Rule #3 above will come as a shock to agencies.
The horrible truth is, most of your clients don't know your company name. Sometimes they just don't know at all; somebody else in the organization set up the relationship. Sometimes they knew, but they forgot. And, most often, they remember a bit of it ("It's Neo or Novo something, and they're in Chicago ...") but not all.
MarketingSherpa reporters don't bother asking clients for agency or vendor URLs because 99% of the time the answer is wrong or "don't know." And all too often, if you stick a "dot-com" on the end of an agency name, it leads you to the wrong agency's Web site because so many names are similar.
These two facts are more evidence of the agency-client disconnect that was beautifully revealed in August's study by Rainmaker Consulting (who, by the way, are not RainMakerConsulting.com; that's a different agency, of course.)
That's why if you work for an agency or marketing-related vendor, I urge you to reconsider the holiday gift plans you're probably making right now for clients and key prospects. Instead of something ephemeral, such as a card or ecard, or an edible crowd-pleaser, such as chocolate, consider giving a promotional product with your logo, brand name and URL boldly embossed on it.
Something like an oversized coffee mug, that sits on your client's desk, is best. I know that sounds all too boring for your exciting, cutting edge, ultra-creative brand. Get over it.
Your current clients are your most valuable marketing channel. Referrals are critical to your successful growth. Knowing, as I do, how few clients can properly name the agencies that work for them, I'm stunned there are any referrals at all in this business.
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