4 things you need to know when outsourcing marketing (and 3 ways to check on current contracts)
On a scale of 1 to 10, how comfortable and in control do you feel about your digital marketing efforts?
Do you feel like you’ve spent time and money on pieces of marketing, none of which are working well? Has your strategy been “a little of this, a little of that”?
Have parts of your efforts included boosting Facebook posts or ads on LinkedIn? Maybe you’ve got an email list where you sent out a few emails but haven’t been consistent.
Perhaps you’ve hired a freelancer, agency, or office intern only to be talked into some grand campaign that cost a lot of money but yielded little results?
Pros and Cons of Outside Marketing Help
The benefit of hiring outside marketing help is multifaceted. With one point of contact, they’re linked to your marketing strategy and goals in a way internal staff can’t.
(How often has your staff told you they wanted to finish the marketing project you assigned, but other work kept getting in the way? Or maybe they neglected other duties in favor of marketing tasks?)
Additionally, an outside specialist has proven connections. Giving you a 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. Above all, an agency’s job is to grow the number of clients as much as possible, which tends to leave their loyal clients increasingly neglected. On the flip side, perhaps a business isn’t ready for a full-fledged agency.
For most businesses, it makes financial sense to contract with outside marketing assistance. How can you make sure you’re getting the maximum benefit from these relationships?
If you are looking to hire outside marketing help:
- Make sure you ask for work samples.
You’d be surprised at how many consultants take on tasks that they don’t really know about. Diving into their client history can give you insight into 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 & turnaround times?
- Make sure you have a budget for marketing, AND ad spend.
These two costs can be confusing. For example, think of it like a car – you make the investment in the car, but you still have to buy gas. 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. On the other hand, freelancers don’t have the overhead of offices, snack budgets, IT, and HR departments, so they can save you money. Additionally, they get to know your business inside and out and can be more flexible. On the other hand, 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.
You are their client – if you have a question or are uncertain about the work they’re doing, ask! They’ll have the opportunity to correct and it’ll be a valuable experience for both you and them. Getting questions out the way 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, remember that no question is too small.
- They may know more than what you’re paying them for.
I spoke with a business owner of a chain of pet grooming stores, he said he’d been paying an agency for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) work but had a question about digital ads. He considered hiring another outside party but I advised him to just ask his current agency. Turns out, that was their main specialty!
- Get creative.
Give them creative assignments every so often. You can have them come up with a new campaign, or brainstorm a new product offering. 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 comfort level with your marketing help at the beginning of this article.
What can you do tomorrow to increase that by one point?
Angela Arnold is a marketing consultant who brings small businesses agency-level marketing at a price they can afford.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.