Borrowing an extra pair of hands for your marketing
There comes a time when every business needs a little outside assistance. David Thorp of The Chartered Institute of Marketing explores the pros and cons of using the services of a marketing consultant.
Many people who run small businesses find themselves wearing many hats. If their business card was big enough, it could include numerous titles ranging from ‘HR Manager’ to ‘Kitchen Supplies Procurement Executive’ after the words ‘Managing Director’.
But the loftiest of high-flyers can’t be good at everything. And marketing, which is more crucial to business success than any other activity, should certainly not be left to the untrained and inexperienced. (Read more: To outsource or not to outsource)
You should consider outsourcing all of your marketing activity if your team members are wearing too many marketing hats, consistently missing deadlines, or are hampered more than helped by your current marketing technology.
Employing a full time marketing professional, or training an existing member of staff are viable ways to improve the standards of your company’s marketing. However, this will involve long term commitment, and taking on a marketer of high calibre can be expensive.
A more flexible and potentially more cost effective way of tapping into the expertise of a senior and experienced marketing professional is to employ a consultant or agency. Using freelance or agency consultants can also help to boost your marketing efforts to support particular projects, such as a product launch or the planning of an exhibition.
Digital marketing agencies are often more efficient than an in-house marketing teams and at times even for a lower cost. Systems are even created to make sure your company still has control over activities and the reputation of the company.
So how do you go about choosing the right person or company for your business? And how do you manage the relationship between your company and your ‘extra pair of hands’?
- Remember that ‘tastes like chicken’ is not a compliment. All agencies will claim they’re different. Ask them to prove it.
- Decide if you want to pay a fixed monthly fee or a project rate. Expect to pay a premium if you want your agency to tackle odd jobs at short notice.
- Find an agency that has solid expertise in your sector – it’s their job to know what they’re talking about and not your job to teach them.
- Be prepared to keep an open mind – you’re paying for their advice so take it.
- Don’t expect to spoon feed your agency, but make sure you give them all the information and feedback they need to get on with their task.
- Keep secrets from your competition not your agency. They can’t be expected to give good advice if they don’t have all the facts.
- Get close to the people who work with you. Like a happy marriage, the best client/agency relationships work because both parties think as one.
- Build relationships between your agency and other functions such as sales, which need to work in tandem with any marketing campaign.
- Give clear instructions about what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it. If you don’t tell your agency what you want them to do, you can’t be disappointed when they don’t do it.
- Demand to see results. Some people say that marketing success can’t be measured. They’re wrong. But be patient – like Rome, great brands aren’t built in a day.
- Make sure the person who will be looking after your business has up-to-date, recognised professional qualifications such as those offered by the CIM.