On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable and in control do you feel about your digital marketing efforts?
Does it feel like you’ve spent lots of money and time on bits and pieces of marketing, none of which are really working well? Would your strategy best be described as “a little of this, a little of that”?
Maybe part of your efforts have included boosting Facebook posts, ads on LinkedIn…. or maybe you have an email list to which you’ve sent out one or two emails, but you haven’t been consistent.
Maybe you even hired a freelancer, an agency, or office intern only to be talked into some grand campaign that cost a lot of money but yielded little results?
I’ve seen many businesses use someone internally because the person knows how to use social media as themselves, however, it doesn’t mean they have the skills to represent your business in a very public forum.
The benefit of hiring an outside marketing specialist is multifaceted. With one point of contact, they are linked to your marketing strategy and goals in a way that internal staff can’t be.
(How often have you been told by your staff that they wanted to finish the marketing project you assigned but other work kept getting in the way of getting it completed?)
An outside specialist has proven connections — giving you a very diverse field of current skills in content writing, strategy, marketing research, platform options and more.
The drawbacks of hiring an outside specialist? Time and again I’ve seen agencies take on businesses that aren’t a good fit and vice versa. An agency’s job is to grow their number of clients as much as possible, which tends to leave their loyal clients increasingly neglected.
Usually for most businesses, it makes more financial sense to contract with outside marketing assistance. So how can you help make sure you are getting maximum benefit from these relationships?
IF you are looking to hire an outside marketer:
- Make sure you ask for work samples. You’d be surprised at how many consultants and agencies I see take on tasks that they know about in theory, but not practice. Finding out what types of clients they’ve worked with can give you insight on their industry expertise.
- Ask about their workload. How many other clients do they have? How will they ensure your needs are being met and what are their typical response and turnaround times?
- Make sure you have a budget for marketing, AND for ad spend. These two costs can be confusing. Think of it like a car – you make the investment in the car, but you still have to buy gas. You can buy as much or as little as gas as you want, from squeezing out $3 with your pocket change or a $47 fill-up. Good marketing efforts should translate into “more miles per gallon”.
- Agency or freelancer(s)? The benefit of an agency is that it can be a one-stop shop. They have a wide array of people and skills that can step in to help, and if someone gets sick or goes on vacation, there will be coverage to keep things moving. Freelancers don’t have the agency overhead of offices, IT and HR departments, and snack budgets, so they can save you quite a bit of money. They get to know your business inside and out and can be more flexible. The downside is if you need multiple freelancers to do the work, that means more management and coordination on your side unless you hire a freelancer with established contacts.
For your current relationship:
- They’re there to serve you. Remember, you are their client – if you have a question, or are feeling neglected or uncertain about the work they’re doing, ask! They’ll have the opportunity to correct and it’ll be a valuable experience for you and them. Getting questions and issues answered eliminates worries from your ‘emotional plate’ and allows you to focus on the tasks and activities that you are better equipped to handle. Lean on them to help. No question is too small.
- They may know more than what you’re paying them for. I spoke with a business owner with a 5-location chain of pet grooming/boarding, and he said he’d been paying an agency for specific SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work, but had a question about digital ads. He was considering hiring another outside party to handle digital ads, when I advised him to just ask his current agency if that’s something they do. Turns out, that was their main specialty!
- Get creative! Give them creative assignments every so often. Have them come up with a new campaign, or brainstorm on a new product offering or customer segment. They know your business (and you!) inside and out, and they’re in a perfect position to come up with something that will boost your business.
Now, think back to how you rated your marketing at the beginning of this article.
What can you do tomorrow to increase that by one point?