When running a small business, you can be so focused on the day-to-day tasks of getting sales, fulfilling orders and all the admin that goes with it, that your marketing activities get left behind.
The pressure these days to have a good website, be present on social media, have great photography and so on can give way to the ‘that’ll do’ school of marketing. Too many companies make do with an iPhone for their pictures, a downloaded WordPress template for their website and get their gap year nephew to do their social media.
All this is fine in theory, but the problem is you’re starting with the tactics and the output, rather than with a strategy and a clear sense of what you’re trying to achieve. Doing everything in house (and frankly, on the cheap!) means you’re going to get what you pay for and that’s often not very much at all.
The alternative is to do what many successful companies do and outsource your marketing to a specialist agency instead.
To put you in the best place to decide how to take your marketing forward, we’ve pulled together three steps to help you stay focused on the most important aspect of all - a return on your investment!
1. Know what you want to achieve before you choose someone to work with
Before you meet any marketing agency, consider the following:
- What marketing activities do I currently do? People often say they don’t do any marketing, yet if you have a logo, business cards, a company sign, t-shirts for your team, a website or your name on your van, you’re already doing marketing! Each of these creates an impression, a brand identity for your business and a reputation with your customers.
- Are those marketing activities are working? Does your website generate leads? Do people notice your vans? Do staff like the t-shirts? Are people using your business cards?
- Look at what’s missing. What are your objectives, your business goals? How long will it take to reach them doing what you’re currently doing?
- Identify who your customers are. How would you classify your customers? Do you want more work from existing customers? Do you want more customers like them? Are you looking to get customers in other sectors?
2. Have an idea of what you want to spend, and be prepared to increase that if the ROI is worth investing more
Fortune 500 companies spend on average 13% of their turnover on marketing and SMEs should spend between 7-10% of turnover on their marketing budget. You may well be spending close to that already without even realising.
Whatever you decide to spend, you should also have an idea of how much increased business you would like as a direct or indirect result of your marketing activities. Different marketing tools produce different results. For example, advertising spend should increase sales. Public relations increases your influence and reputation, indirectly increasing sales over a longer period of time. Digital marketing offers both direct and indirect results. Your agency will be able to suggest what would work best for you, in relation to your customers, your industry, and the budget you have available.
3. Choose a marketing agency that focuses on what you need, not what they can do
Amazingly, many marketing agencies ignore the main premise of marketing - deliver what the customer needs! Instead they look at the services they offer and see what might suit you best.
A good marketing agency will look at your business plan, understand your drivers and talk with you about your objectives, what you’re trying to achieve and who you’re trying to reach. They’ll be able to create a strategy for you that will deliver the brand reputation or financial return you’re after - and often the strategy should do both.
Be prepared to see more than one agency too, a little bit of time invested now will save you time and money later. If the first agency you see doesn’t make commercial sense to you - or the chemistry isn’t right - then see someone else.
If you’re ready to take the next step with your marketing, please get in touch now to arrange a meeting.