As an entrepreneur, you can’t do everything. Sure, you may be a jack of all trades, but in order to succeed to your fullest potential focus on what you do well and delegate stuff someone else can do better.
Marketing seems to be one of the areas that new businesses tend to postpone for as long as possible before finally biting the bullet and hiring. In an effort to save money, businesses ignore the fact that good marketing is crucial for sales.
So what’s the solution for cost-conscious businesses that want do to marketing, but aren’t ready to hire a full-time employee? Outsourcing.
Since our bread and butter is outsourced marketing and sales, we put together the following short, informational guide to help you understand what to look for when outsourcing your marketing to make sure it’s as successful as possible.
What does outsourcing my marketing mean?
It means, instead of hiring someone to work for you doing this job, you’re paying an outside person or organization to handle everything for you.
Outsourced marketing generally falls into one of three categories:
- Completely outsourcing everything. When you don’t know where to start or what to do, sometimes it’s just easier to hand everything over. In this case, you turn to your marketing solution to deal with the strategy for marketing your business and its implementation – digital, print, etc.
- You want to be involved, but have someone else do the work. It’s your company, so you want to be involved in the process to make sure it feels right to you, but you want someone else to roll up their sleeves and do the work. In this case, outsourcing would be like having a remote marketing team – they are still involved in relevant meetings and discussions, but aren’t on site.
- The test drive. In our experience, business owners want to be able to turn to a marketing expert but want a low commitment option, either to save money or test drive their outsourcing provider to make sure they are living up to expectations. Depending on the client, we may do an audit of their current marketing strategy to see where there is room for improvement, provide 3 months of social media content and engagement strategy, or other small but impactful projects.
What each plan has in common is that the business owner is turning to a professional outside of their business for help with their marketing.
Why is it better to outsource than to hire someone?
There are a few reasons why it makes financial sense to outsource:
- Save time. On publishing job ads and interviewing candidates. It’s much easier to talk to a handful of companies than sift through dozens of applications
- Cost. It’s a lot cheaper to outsource. You aren’t paying salary, unemployment insurance, pension, 401K or whatever other benefits are relevant for your country or industry. You pay a project fee, or perhaps a monthly retainer.
- Faster onboarding. It takes time for a new employee to actually be productive for their company. New hires might not be available to start working for weeks or even a month or more as the sort up loose ends at their previous job. Then, you need to start training them. They might need time to learn about their new industry, work through what their predecessor was doing right or wrong, etc. Whereas, when you outsource to a competent company, they are used to jumping in and taking over. We’ve streamlined our onboarding process for new clients since we have plenty of experience understanding what we need to know to get up and running right away.
What To Look For in an Experienced Marketing Agency.
It’s not unreasonable to ask if the agency has experience with services like the ones you are looking for. By that we mean, doing Facebook lead generation or SEO for eCommerce. However, it doesn’t need to be more nuanced than that. One of the silliest conversations we had was with a modular toilet startup based out of India that while touting their uniqueness wanted examples of our success with similar products.
We explained that haven’t done marketing for a startup in India selling modular toilets but do have experience in the Indian market.
What you should be looking for is:
- The ability to set KPIs and explain how they will reach them. KPIs are key performance indicators, milestones for increases in traffic, clicks, leads, and other indicators that their work is yielding valuable results, and timelines for when you should be able to see results.
- Recommendations from people who have worked with them on their site. Unless we are going to work on something very expensive or very esoteric, we aren’t going to put you in touch with former clients, that’s why we put up our testimonials page. Satisfied customers are usually very happy to give a blurb for a, so check out what former clients have to say. You can always look up the client on LinkedIn and ask for further clarification on their experiences with the marketing agency.
- An explanation of similar work they’ve done. More often than not, we have to sign NDAs, so we are restricted in the examples of success we can share. That said, anyone can talk about the general strategies they did to create a successful campaign.
- If you like them. Do you feel like they respect you, are they listening to you and taking you seriously? You don’t have to pay someone who isn’t responsive or can’t explain why you aren’t seeing results. We generally work on a monthly contract, because we want our clients to stay because they are so happy with the work we are providing.
You convinced me, now what?
If you are ready to start outsourcing your marketing but don’t know what to start with, we have the following recommendations:
- Decide on a budget. Once you know what you are willing to spend, either on a one time project or monthly budget, you’ll be able to shop around and get quotes for different services.
- Ask for an audit. One of the lower-cost investments is in an audit. It’s a one time project, so you can get a sense of whether or not you like the company you are working with. You can get an analysis of all of your marketing efforts, or just pieces, such as your website, social media accounts, email marketing efforts, and so on.
- Ask for recommendations on local Facebook groups or LinkedIn, but don’t blindly trust social media recommendations. It’s normal for groups of people with complementary businesses to join together and recommend one another when people are searching for service providers. However, the recommenders may not have actually hired whoever they are recommending, and with pods, as they are called, increasingly expanding to promote themselves and others within their pod, you need to do your due diligence when talking to prospective agencies or people.