It’s no wonder why outsourcing some of the company function has become a very effective strategy, especially in today’s competitive business market. If you’re planning to downsize, reprioritize or even expand your business operations, then outsourcing the necessary skills to an expert can save you time, money and further headache from trying to do it yourself.
This is very true for the marketing function, as it is becoming even more specialised and new positions are being created to meet the very specific and demanding marketing requirements for businesses. Brand Management, Web Design, Copywriting, Lead Generation and Affiliate Marketing are just a few examples of niche marketing functions. The expertise found in any of these marketing areas lies outside the walls of a typical small business owner, which is why more and more businesses are turning to marketing partners.
There are many reasons why small businesses engage the services of marketing partner, which are mainly due to:
- Needing a specific skill-set to assist with a new project, or require an external perspective.
- Requiring an extra resource when your workload increases over a short period. There are always inevitable peaks and troughs throughout the year, where current staffing levels may be insufficient to complete a project and a marketing consultant can be used to keep you on track.
- Preferring to outsource the marketing function rather than employ someone full-time or on a part-time basis.
- They can often provide the same service as an in-house marketing department, but at half the cost.
Now you might be one of those business entrepreneurs that are great at coming up with ideas, but you may lack the research and analytics required to better understand your customers. This is why choosing the right marketing partner is absolutely critical for your business success. They should complement your abilities and also help guide you.
Outsourcing can be quite intimidating when you first enter discussions. To help you in the decision making process here are some helpful selection criteria to use for choosing the right marketing partner.
Areas of Expertise
As previously mentioned, marketing experts have various levels of experience. It is important to know that your chosen marketing partner is not just implanting text-book theory, but can offer real, practical advice with specific steps to increase the success of each marketing campaign.
The first place to start is to understand what areas you might need help in and look for a consultant that fits the bill. Here are some further examples to get you thinking: Web Design, SEO, Social Media, Email Marketing, Brand Identity, Marketing Plans, Marketing Consulting or Marketing Coaching.
These days, many businesses these days are partnering smaller agencies that are small and nimble and can think out-of-the-box….and that makes a real difference. This type of marketing partner can have access to a great network of strategic alliances which could benefit your business. They can provide good pieces to the puzzle and they don’t have to turn away potential business just because it doesn’t have all the expertise you require.
Memberships and Accreditation
Memberships are a good way to see how active your marketing partner is in the industry and it also sends a message that they are passionate about their profession. A marketing partner that is certified with a membership organisation also demonstrates a high level of working knowledge and education, which provides reassurance right from the outset.
Client referrals and case studies are a great way to understand your marketing partner’s ability to get the job done and achieve great results. It may be even worth your while to contact previous clients directly to get a better sense of their working style and cultural fit for your business.
Fees and Charges
Most small businesses avoid engaging marketing consultants in fear of being told to spend more money on marketing or perhaps implement an expensive strategy that has no assurance of success. If you are like the majority of small business owners your marketing budget is limited. Plus, there is no point throwing money at advertising if you can’t measure the success of each campaign. So before signing an agreement make sure you have a clear understanding of the fees involved, and if they will bill you for any other services outside of the fees. E.g. Printing. Will you pay anything up front or only once the service has been provided, or when a campaign has ended?
An ideal marketing partner would work with you to get the most out of your marketing budget and take into consideration many different low-risk and low-cost marketing activities to boost sales, leads and profits for your business. They should even help you find ways to save money and even provide new systems and processes to help increase your effectiveness through every marketing channel. It could be even be well worth your while establishing a relationship that maximises your budget by sticking to a reasonable fee with a performance based payment option included.
So finally, before engaging the services of a marketing consultant, ask yourself, does it feel right? Is there a synergy of personalities and thought processes?
A good marketing consultant should take the time to hear about your company goals and understand the vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve for your business before even discussing fees. If all they want to do is sign you up to a long term contract then you are clearly wasting your time and need to find someone else. You should never feel rushed or pushed into making decisions. It’s a sure sign of things to come and the type of person you are about to start working with.