A lot of conversations I have with business owners start like this: “I know I should be marketing my company, but that’s not what I’m good at. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want to come across as salesy or pushy. Besides, I’m busy helping the customers I already have.” These are valid excuses, but they are just that: excuses. They aren’t reasons to avoid marketing.
Marketing is a critical component of your business plan. You have to make yourself and your company known to your prospective buyers. You must adequately communicate the value your product or service delivers to your prospective buyer. Lastly, you must help your prospective buyer to clearly understand what sets you apart from your competition. This has become more important than ever in today’s global marketplace where even services have been commoditized and sold over the world wide web. How do you do that if marketing is not what you are good at? The answer may be “hire a marketing agency.”
When you hire a professional marketing agency you have access to a team of specialists who have the experience to help you build your brand, tell your story, attract prospects and generate revenue for your business. It’s a noisy world. Cutting through that noise is no easy task. It requires a specific blend of marketing activities that are executed in accordance with your industry, your business type, your target audience and your business goals. This level of expertise is hard to get with a single individual, and most small businesses cannot afford to hire a team of experts in house to achieve this same goal.
What should you expect when hiring a marketing agency?
Expect a process.
Regardless of whether you engage with an outsourced marketing agency for a single marketing endeavor or a holistic marketing strategy, you should know up front what the process will be. How will the engagement begin? How are goals established and measured? What is going to be done? What is the timeline for deployment?
Expect to participate in the process.
Your business’ vision and objectives are key to a successful marketing strategy. To get the best outcome, you must fully participate in the process. Regardless of how talented a team of marketing professionals are, they cannot read your mind. A professional staff will challenge you to answer difficult business questions that many of us like to shy away from: questions like “what makes you different from your competitor” and “why should I buy from you?” Be open to the discussion and forthcoming with your answers. When you disclose your challenges, you are one step closer to overcoming them.
Expect your agency’s team to offer recommendations, not just do what they are told.
You are likely to hire an agency because you lack the expertise to execute a successful marketing strategy on your own. Trust in the process. Marketing is an art, but its success is very much driven by science. Allow your chosen team to offer suggestions based on their experience.
The best advice I can offer when addressing your company’s marketing plan is this: first, commit to developing a plan and second, start with a small project that helps you find your ideal team. Pay attention as you engage with marketing professionals. Are they trying to sell you a product you think you need (such as social media management, a new website) or are they asking you about your business goals and challenges in an effort to lead you to the product that will solve your challenges? If the answer is the latter, you are starting down a positive path that will lead you to marketing success.