indicatorSales and Marketing

How the right media partners can grow your business

By ATB Financial 11 September 2020 6 min read

photo of a work flow chart

Marketing is vital to business. It’s how an organization builds its brand, gains customers, and, ultimately, makes sales. Heather Ilsley, vice president of client services with Vovia, shares that businesses typically spend 6 per cent – 12 per cent of their revenue on marketing. “A well-established business that is just looking to maintain market share would be on the lower end whereas a business that is growing would be closer to 12 per cent.”

Marketing is also broad. There are so many different ways to promote your business, that it can be hard to know where to start. There is inbound marketing and outbound marketing. There is digital marketing and traditional marketing. There is guerilla marketing and affiliate marketing. And that is why, sometimes it is advisable for an organization to bring in outside expertise.

“If you get to the place where your team can’t handle all the marketing work themselves, but are not yet at the point of hiring additional dedicated marketing staff, hiring an outside agency could be the right move,” ATB’s Digital Marketing Manager Kassia Hollis-Haynes advises. “When you know there is more you could and should be doing and you can afford to do so, it’s a good point to start looking at partners.”

“Clients are experts in their business and their industry, but media and marketing has become so technical and is changing so rapidly that it’s extremely difficult for clients to be experts on their business and also experts in all the many facets of marketing,” Ilsley explains. “We also have experts in analytics as it’s a very different skill set than buying/optimizing media.”

Furthermore, agencies typically have long-standing, established relationships with media companies, which definitely comes in handy. “We will often get first crack at opportunities that come up,” Ilsley notes. “This could be a unique media placement, access to inventory before others, being included in research at no cost, and more flexible contracts.”

Having established the ‘why’ of bringing on an agency as a business partner, now we’ll look at the ‘how’ by considering some of the factors to think through.


Know your audience

Before you begin the search for a potential agency partner, Hollis-Haynes cautions that “you need a really clear picture of the audience you want to reach. The demographics and psychographics will inform the media partners you work with. Some agencies are more full service, where others might specialize in a niche, like influencer relationships. I’ll work with different partners for different needs.”

Know your target audience, and know them well. Where do they go for their information? Are they Instagram aficionados or are they podcast fans? Are they more likely to read the latest issue of the Globe and Mail with their morning coffee or are they more apt to share the latest Huffington Post article in their Facebook feed?


Know what you are buying

Marketing success is contingent on understanding how you are spending your money. “Google and Facebook make it really easy to spend money on their platforms,” Ilsley cautions. “One of the biggest pitfalls we see is campaigns that are not targeted properly. Ensure to set budget caps - you want to minimize wasted spend.”


Be mindful of your marketing budget

“It’s important to think about how your marketing budget is broken down,” Ilsley advises. “Investment in marketing technology has been steadily increasing as tools that provide automation allow marketers to be more efficient at reaching, nurturing and acquiring customers. You also need to be mindful of how your budget breaks out for creative, production, and media. You don’t want to invest so much on producing creative that you have no money left to promote your message.”


Budget appropriately

In addition to being mindful of your marketing budget, it’s also necessary to consider what spend is appropriate for the chosen marketing medium. “Don’t spread yourself so thin or invest in a channel at such a low level that your investment won’t make an impact,” Ilsley cautions. “One radio spot will not make a true impact. Understand what is feasible within your goals.”


Don’t go in to a media partnership without a plan

Once you’ve identified the appropriate media partners that best align to your customer base and values, it’s time to establish some clear goals and objectives around your partnership. These objectives could range from breaking in with a new demographic to brand awareness to increased client retention. Attach measurement metrics to your goals so that performance can be properly measured.

What are some of the marketing tactics your agency partner will look at?

From social networks to paid search to email marketing, the realm of digital marketing is huge and is a must-do for most organizations. Digital, also referred to as new media, cannot be ignored in today’s technology-reliant world.

“Traditional and digital media work best hand in hand,” Hollis-Haynes explains. “They can be used to support and amplify each other. Even as a Digital Media Manager, traditional media has a big role to play. It’s really neat when you can find ways to integrate and make them work well together. When brands can find ways to be on TV at the same time as targeted mobile ads or integrations between billboards and phone ads – there is SO much that can be done between traditional and digital to get them working together.”

Radio can be effective. Radio stations have a very clear picture of which demographic they are serving, which helps advertisers to properly pinpoint where they should be spending their radio dollars. Radio has been referred to as ‘the uncluttered medium’ as listeners often tune in while involved in solitary activities – think exercising or commuting.

Despite the advent of digital publication alternatives, print advertising is still relevant and worth considering. Statista reports that newspaper advertising is the most trusted source for Canadians, 74% of consumers feel comfortable with the levels of truth and accuracy in newspaper ads.

“If your audience is spending time with print, then it can be a great channel,” Ilsley states. “However, print as a medium is declining.”

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising refers to media that is designed to reach consumers outside the confines of their house.

Examples of OOH include:

  • Billboards
  • Public transit advertising
  • Cinema
  • Posters
  • Street furniture (e.g. kiosks and bus benches)
  • Ads in washrooms
  • Awnings

“The right channel goes back to your goal,” Ilsley elaborates. “If you want high reach and high frequency, high impressions, and your message is applicable to a large proportion of the general population, out-of-home is ideal.”

Aside from being up-to-date on the latest marketing trends and innovations, marketing agencies also have their pulse on what’s next in their field. Ilsley points to advertising where “facial recognition can be incorporated, and ad content may be tailored accordingly – for example with in-elevator advertising,” as a strategy that is likely to continue to gain popularity.

It’s not realistic for a small business owner to be fully in-the-know when it comes to the continually evolving world of marketing and advertising. Partnering with a savvy media agency that is, means that your organization can focus their limited resources on what it is that they do best.

If you’re looking for a deep dive on everything you need to know around how to grow your business, our ATB X Accelerator program might be just the place for you. Alternatively, feel free to reach out to one of our entrepreneur strategists to explore where you are with your business, where you want to be, and how to get there!

Are you a growing business looking to build your brand?

Download our guide to branding and marketing, containing expert advice, templates and other resources that will help you market your business.

Need help?

Our Business Support team will be happy to assist.

Chat now
ATB Virtual Assistant
The ATB Virtual Assistant doesn't support landscape mode. Please tilt your device vertically to portrait mode.