Keren Lerner, founder and managing director of Top Left Design outlines the key rules for business owners looking to outsource their marketing management, from when it’s time to outsource, to getting the right agency on board.
Business owners put the marketing function on the back burner far too often. Whilst they might have certain aspects set up, such as a website, social media channels and email marketing accounts, they end up with one or both of the following problems:
Firstly, there is infrequent or dormant activity. Without a proper rhythm in place, there are no regular touchpoints that will remind your audience not only that your business exists, but that you are excellent at what you do and have your own unique differentiators. Secondly, there is a lack of quality control. Many businesses take marketing activity in-house as an ‘easy’ option, but if not executed properly, mistakes can be made!
Fix those two issues, and you’ll be fine, right? Simple on paper but marketing is a balancing act, and is split into much more than mere web design and social media management. It actually requires many areas of expertise. So, if it feels overwhelming, it might be time to look beyond your own resources.
To outsource, or not to outsource?
If you decide to commit to a regular marketing campaign but can’t fit it into your schedule, the likelihood is that you should outsource your marketing to an agency. But there are certain rules you should follow to make sure you are getting your Return on Investment (ROI).
Getting the right agency
There are hundreds of thousands of marketing agencies out there, so it can seem like a bit of a minefield once you begin looking. If you’re a business owner who hasn’t engaged in any marketing activity at all, it’s important to brush up on your knowledge before you start the process. Take a short course on marketing or social media so you know exactly what to expect – this way agencies won’t be able to take advantage of any naivety and you can be much clearer on what your business needs!
Start your search small. Look at the businesses you engage with and who they use. Can your contacts pass on recommendations? Once you have a list of around 3-5 agencies, look at how they present themselves. Do they have a good mix of activity and industry insights? Do they offer advice to their audience? Does their tone of voice seem to match yours? Can you get in touch with their clients for testimonials? Once you have narrowed down your potential agency, it’s time to get in touch.
When an agency is pitching for your custom, there are a few things to look out for. First and foremost, they should be asking you detailed questions about what you want and your expectations in order to get to know your business. A good agency might even host an ideas generation session with your employees. It is key that the agency sees themselves as an extension of your business as opposed to a purely independent, outsourced entity.
Pricing should also be clear from the outset. For example, the channels they will cover, how many updates per week, and the graphic design services included. However, ensuring that an agency is a cultural fit should be a priority for any organisation.
The honeymoon period
You have hired your agency and your campaign is well under way. But out of sight mustn’t mean out of mind. During the first few weeks of engagement, everything should be approved by you to ensure things like social media updates make sense and align with your business. Your agency should also provide evidence of their activity and report on progress at regular points within the campaign. Once they have instilled confidence in you, they can go about managing your campaign more autonomously.
It goes without saying that an agency can propel your marketing campaign forward so you can carry on business as usual. For any business, marketing activity requires resource, so outsourcing is the next logical step. By keeping in mind your objectives and ensuring that your agency is the right fit for your business, you can feel confident in the knowledge that outsourcing was a worthwhile investment.
By Keren Lerner
Top Left Design