Outsource Marketing
When you operate a small business, you do so on slim margins and with the need to micromanage everything.

I completely understand.

But, when small business owners insist on handling their own marketing, things can get hairy.

Most small business owners understand the need to pay for advertising — the delivery of the company message. What they often miss is the value of marketing — crafting the company message. When this happens, the advertising is often far less effective.

Besides cost, though, small business owners often feel they can or should handle the marketing themselves. After all, it’s their vision, right? Surely, they can come up with the value proposition or the company message.

While it’s true they probably can, that doesn’t mean it’s what they should be doing. Small business owners need to focus on the daily operations of their companies or their opportunities for growth. Good marketing takes a lot of time, and time spent on marketing is time taken away from other things that can’t be outsourced.

By outsourcing your marketing to an outside marketing company, however, small- to medium-sized business will have more time to focus on operations and growing their businesses. These firms do nothing but marketing. They live and breathe it, which makes them experts. While the business owner is dealing with customers or employees, the marketing firm is focusing on marketing. Getting more done in the same amount of time is always a good thing.

Find Your Match

Of course, not all marketing firms are created equal. Find firms in your area, or expand the search nationally if you want to work with a bigger firm. Once you narrow your options, ask each company to submit proposals. Look through those proposals very carefully. Did the agency offer concrete expectations, or is it all fluff? Can you determine what the firm will do for you in a month or a year?

For most small businesses, a great online presence is a must. Pay attention to the agency’s track record in the digital world. It’s good to see samples of its work for both digital and traditional projects. Ask these questions:

  • Does the firm design and develop websites? If so, how do you like the sites they’ve done?
  • Do you like the print campaigns it’s produced?
  • If the agency handles social media, how effective has it been in growing an audience?
  • Is the messaging and branding clear across all formats? Are the companies represented well, no matter where you see them?

After doing your research, make a decision. Some of it is really just intuition. Do you personally like the work? Do you think the agency understands your company and will work well with you or your team?

Transition Time

It’s not easy for an entrepreneur to hand over work. He is often so used to doing it all that it can be impossible to let go.

When it comes time to hand over the marketing, just remember: “jack of all trades, master of none.” If you’ve picked the right company, it wants you to succeed as much as you do and can do a better job at the marketing part than you can.

The most important issue when bringing in a third party is managing expectations and results. Make these clear from the beginning, and the relationship should be a happy one.

  1. Make a list of what you want: new website, print materials, email creative, social media presence, etc. Whatever it is, make sure the marketing firm knows your exact needs.
  2. Your proposal should address each thing you need and give a timeframe for when you need it. This will help the team plan.
  3. Marketing is just the messaging. You have to get the message out somehow. Make sure to include advertising in your plan. Are you going to go traditional with print, TV, or direct mail? Or will you stay purely digital with social media and a Web presence? Will there be a healthy mix? The marketing professionals will have some ideas and guidance here, too.
  4. Define success. Set measurable goals and a timeframe for seeing results. How many people come to the website now? How many do you want? On a grading scale, what’s an A, and what’s an F? Do this for all forms of media. Some are harder to measure than others, but there’s a way to track progress.
  5. Set one-week, 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day goals. Follow up with the team at each juncture and measure the results. Be willing to refine any strategies. Marketing is a moving target, and most campaigns get better with practice.

Many small business owners think of expenses as trading dollars for revenues. They fail to think strategically. In the case of a good marketing plan, the right outside firm will increase your revenue and pay for itself many times over.

If you devote time and money to find the best marketing firm for your company, the transition will be easy, and you’ll wonder why you ever tried to do it in-house in the first place.

Capitalize on all the leads that come from your small business’ marketing efforts. Use a CRM like Base to manage your lead tracking.