Dr Peter Hughes

How Marketing Agencies Burn Your Cash

by Dr Peter Hughes on April 10, 2017

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You can’t keep burning cash on marketing that doesn’t deliver sales.

When it comes to marketing, the principal difference between large, global corporations and mid-market businesses is what is at stake when they hire an agency. Every business needs to get a return on investment but the pressure on mid-market businesses to generate sales from marketing investment is considerably greater. There are two main reasons for this:

  • mid-market business doesn't have the brand strength to recover from misplaced marketing investment
  • the marketing decision makers in mid-market businesses tend to be either the owners of the business or marketing professionals reporting directly to the owners

There is no doubt that marketing agencies are generally good at producing what is known technically as ‘stuff’. Typically, this includes websites, PPC campaigns, adverts, press releases, events, Search Engine Optimisation and a myriad of other tactical deliverables. Despite the proliferation of ‘stuff’ and the obvious skill agencies have in delivering it, there is a growing cynicism among mid-market businesses about the commercial effectiveness of marketing.

The reason for this cynicism is the responsibility, often not made explicit, regarding the role of a marketing agency in delivering sales. Traditionally, marketing agencies and their clients see the role of marketing as stopping once leads are pumped into the top of the funnel. The responsibility from that point on rests entirely with sales. This gives marketing, both internal departments and external agencies, the satisfaction of believing they have done their job while absolving themselves from the consequences of what happens next.  

What mid-market businesses need from agencies is to turn leads into sales. By allowing agencies to pat themselves on the back for generating leads, you are letting them off the hook and damaging your business. It is common practice for sales teams to complain about the quality of the leads generated by marketing. Typically, complaints will take the form of ‘they’re not the right type of lead’ or, more scathingly, ‘these leads are a complete waste of time’. You will then, as most mid-market businesses do, accept the judgement of sales and revert to marketing for an explanation. Eventually, you’ll sack your agency, hire another one and begin the process all over again!

It doesn’t have to be this way. 

This cycle of disappointing commercial returns followed by recriminations can be stopped. This is what you have to do:

  • hire a marketing agency that accepts full responsibility for the progress of every lead all the way through the sales funnel from the top to the bottom
  • this creates complete accountability and aligns marketing with sales
  • once marketing (whether it’s an agency or internal team) and sales are working together, leads will be worked and refined before they are dismissed 

This revaluation of the role of marketing and the alignment of the sales and marketing functions within your business is called sales enablement.  It is a relatively new discipline within marketing and it maximises the value you get from every lead you generate. For corporations this is desirable. For mid-market businesses, it’s essential.

Cognition are pioneers in the field of sales enablement. With 20 years experience of creating value out of marketing for mid-market businesses, our sales enablement programme is changing the role of marketing. So now you have a choice: you can burn your cash on ‘stuff’ or you can turn leads into sales and the first step in this transformation is to download our ebook, Sales Enablement: the Process that Generates Leads, Sales and Gets Value Out of Marketing, or if you’d prefer to talk to us, just call +44 (0)1926 330800.

Sales Enablement

Talk to us today about how we can help you generate increased awareness, demand and sales.

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Dr Peter Hughes

This post was written by Dr Peter Hughes

Psychologist, writer and co-founder of Cognition

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