How to Outsource Marketing
Best Practices to Use When Outsourcing Your Marketing Strategy
Outsource marketing efforts offers many benefits for all different types of companies. Saved costs and an array of talent to choose from are just two benefits out of a long list! In our previous blog post, “Keeping it In-House or Outsourcing: What’s Best for Your Digital Marketing Strategy?,” we dive deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of in-house marketing and out-sourced marketing.
Although outsourcing your marketing projects can save you a lot of worry, one thing that it cannot do is completely rid you of all marketing efforts and communications. We find that this is a common misconception between agencies and businesses, so we’re setting the record straight and providing you with some general tips and advice to heed when you decide to outsource marketing to an external marketing agency.
Finding Your Outsource Marketing Agency
The first and most crucial step of outsourced marketing is finding the right agency. The wrong decision will cost you a lot of time, money and could likely impede your professional goals.The right decision will give you positive ROI, save you time and bring you an increase in business. Here are our suggestions to you for finding the right marketing agency.
Determine Your Outsource Marketing Needs and Budget
Establish which services you will need to satisfy your marketing goals. If you’re not sure what services you need, at least have a clear vision of your goals. This will help you determine which agency is the best hire for your needs.
For example, if you want to reach a wider audience, your agency can suggest services that will help you with that; SEO, paid ads, social media strategy, etc. A good agency will help you discover the best avenues to take to achieve your goals, without overselling you.
Which brings us to your marketing budget. As you know, you should have an established budget allocated to your business marketing. In addition to having a budget, realize that cutting corners to save money is a bad idea.
An all too common example: If you pay for a cheap website, you will get a cheap website. In the long run, it will cost you more money, more time and more headaches. Unfortunately, we see this dilemma often. A large majority of our clients have come to us because their previous website was so poorly done.
Instead of cutting corners to save money, be open with your marketing agency prospects. If they’re a skilled marketing agency, they can help you find ways to save money in your marketing strategy, without sacrificing quality. With a good foundation, you can always add as you go, but with a bad foundation, you will have to demolish what is there and start from the beginning.
One-Stop-Shopping for Your Outsource Marketing
A full-service marketing agency will save you time, money and most importantly- your sanity.
Let’s think of it like this; say you’re baking a cake. Could you imagine having to go to all different stores for each ingredient? Go to Publix for eggs, go to Walmart for milk, go to Winn Dixie for flour, and so on… You will lose your mind!
This is the same concept for your marketing strategy. More than likely, you will need multiple services to fulfill your marketing strategy. Rather than communicating with several different businesses, trying to connect all of them with each other and paying several different invoices- find an agency that can supply it all under one roof.
Trust Your Marketing Agency and Conduct Your Due Diligence
Trust is the most important component of your decision; however it is the most commonly overlooked component! Too often, we have clients coming to us, asking us to fix what their previous marketer ruined. Worse than that, if you’ve been working with a shady agency, you could be getting yourself into very messy intellectual property ownership issues. If you feel that there may be something an agency is hiding, or perhaps the pricing is too good to be true, trust your gut and keep looking! Full transparency between yourself and the agency should be an absolute requirement.
Determine the credibility of all agencies you are considering. Search for reviews and ask for recommendations from previous clients. Take a look at their portfolio page, typically available on their website, (if not, red flag.) Pick up the phone and call their past clients. Ask them about their experience working with the agency. You will be surprised on how willing people are to share with you about their own experiences with outsourced businesses.
After you’ve determined their abilities and their credibility, go one step further. Conduct the “beer test.”
In the midst of all the mundane business operations that you typically deal with, marketing should be the most fun and creative out of them all. Choose an agency that you can easily get along with, an agency that fits you and your company culture. After meeting with them in person, give them “the beer test.” Ask yourself, would you enjoy having a beer with these people at the end of the day?
Communication is key.
Communication works for those who work at it. – John Powell
The key to outsourcing is a strategically developed relationships between your business and your agency. A relationship that is built on open communication and a clear vision. Communication can make or break a marketing strategy.
In order to marketing your business/brand in its truest form, it’s important for your agency partner to understand the in’s and out’s of your company. It is not uncommon for tough questions to arise; so, understand that you are all-knowing in matters of your business. The more information that you can provide, the more creative and authentic your marketing strategy will be.
It’s difficult to communicate a vision that has not yet been created. So, here are some tips that we think could help you communicate your marketing dreams to your marketing agency.
1. Develop Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines distinguish how your brand is represented throughout various channels. Your guidelines should include the following:
Your brand story should be your vision, mission and core values wrapped up into one short backstory. Throughout the constant rush of day to day responsibilities, the why behind what we do can be so easily forgotten. In your brand story, you should discuss why you got started in your current industry and what that means to you.
Consumers buy from brands that they relate to and in turn, that they trust. We advise our clients to show the personal side of their business within their marketing. The results are trusting consumers and increased sales.
Providing a “brand backstory” to your agency will not only help the agency understand you and your company, but it will also bring light opportunities that may help you connect with your target audience, in ways that you may have never thought of.
Which brings us to…
Your target audience:
In order to reach your target audience, we must understand your target audience. What are their wants, needs, likes, dislikes? What do they constantly struggle with? How can we help them?
An effective marketing strategy is built around your target audience. Your ideal consumers will relate to your brand’s messaging and as a result, they will begin feeling rapport and trust with your brand. Which is why it is imperative that your agency understands your target audience, just as much as you do- if not more.
Your brand’s voice:
You can think of your brand’s voice as the personality that your brand conveys through content. It is consistent and clear throughout your entire organization. A brand voice plays a key role in the messaging of your business and the development of brand recognition.
Points of importance:
Points of importance relay certain aspects of your business that you want to push. Such as, a specific service or product that you’d like to increase sales on. It can also be your UVP (unique value proposition,) which is the unique element of your business that makes you stand out amongst competitors.
Non-negotiables are elements of your company and/or brand that you are unwilling to change. This could be certain colors, a logo or as we mentioned above, your company’s voice.
Most non-negotiables are completely valid in nature; however, there is a fine line. Keep an open mind, some change is for the better.
2. Discuss Deliverables
After a discussion about your marketing goals and expectations, your agency will typically go to the drawing board, come up with some strategy ideas and then present them to you at a later meeting.
Once the strategy is decided, it’s important to set clear cut deliverables in order to assure all parties involved that the project is rolling. Be sure that these deliverables are realistic expectations.
3. Practice Active Listening and Be Responsive
If you’re going to hit your deliverables on schedule, you will need to have excellent communication. The client and the agency should both be utilizing an active listening technique. Be fully aware of what the other party is saying, understand it and then respond. In addition to active listening, timely responsiveness should also be utilized. A disadvantage of working with an agency is that, more often than not, the agency is working with several clients, not just you.
For that reason, responsiveness is very important. Taking a week to respond to an email can set you back, rescheduling meetings can set you back, the list can go on. There are many factors that can impact timeliness on a project, so do what you can to minimize those factors by being responsive in a timely manner. We’d like to also point out, that of course, life happens. We can’t all be on time all the time, but in any professional relationship, it is important to be communicative and responsive.
Throughout your outsourcing search, keep an eye out for these red flags.
The “Creative Process” Divas
If any agency claims that they cannot give you a set date on deliverables because the creative process is “unpredictable and time-sensitive,” that’s a red flag. Marketing is heavily creative work, however, it is also a professional industry. Being able to tap into your creativity on the fly, is a trick of the trade that is difficult to master, but a necessary skill.
The “One-Size-Fits-All” Agency
If the agency you are working with has a marketing strategy set for you during the very first meeting, that could be a red flag. Marketing B2B is a team effort and your personal insights and opinions about your industry are a very important consideration.
During the first initial meeting, the focus of the meeting should be you and your business. It’s a time for the agency to get to know you and your business and begin building their understanding of the in’s and out’s. So, if an agency presents you with a marketing strategy before having this initial conversation, you can assume that they use that marketing strategy as a “template” and the strategy is not tailored to your business.
There are times that a single independent contractor fits the bill, and there are times when they don’t. Developing a business marketing strategy is not one of those times. An effective marketing strategy should be robust and full of a variety of techniques. If someone tells you that they can build you a website, implement SEO and provide quality pictures and videos of your product/service, expect that work to be sub-par. It is highly unlikely that one person possesses all the quality skills needed to achieve all of that. The work is probably being outsourced overseas for a low price.
Marketing is a team effort. It is best accomplished by a team of collaborative creatives who can take advantage of each other’s skill and combine forces to accomplish your marketing objectives.
Outsource marketing offers many benefits: saved costs, better talent, and measurable ROI. It frees up time and space in your company, so that you can put more time and money towards core business operations.
A great external outsource marketing relationship should feel good! You’re saving time, saving money and being delivered amazing marketing results. Add ADventure to your list of prospects and allow us to show you how an outsourced relationship should be.