When to do it yourself:
A journalist for a local business publication asked us if smaller companies should hire ad agencies. Well, that certainly got us talking. Of course, we shouldn’t make sweeping generalizations, but we can address some of the issues smaller businesses should consider before they reach out for help.
Our advice in a nutshell:
A small business typically doesn’t employ someone dedicated to its marketing efforts, so it often makes sense to hire a specialist … for some things. You can then employ the best talent, at competitive costs, just when you need it – similar to how a small business might hire an accountant or other professional service provider. Use your time to leverage your expertise to generate income for your business. Use someone else’s time to leverage their expertise on your behalf.
If you think you can’t afford to hire comprehensive marketing and creative support, get picky. Hire a marketing professional only to help you develop a promotional plan or strategy, then consider what can be handled well internally and what would benefit from objective creative or professional execution. If you have a brand and a plan, and can follow style guidelines set by your professionals, you can choose to get help when it will really pay off.
When we work with clients, we provide flexibility when it’s needed. We’ll create structures that help to ensure the success of what a client produces in-house. For example, we’ll provide advertising and presentation templates, easy-to-follow style guidelines, and content management training for website maintenance and blog updates. Any quality partner should offer you a similar working relationship.
Get your important marketing communications done well.
Not that everything isn’t important, but some communications have much greater visibility, or are finely tuned to target a specific subset of your market, and will suggest that you’ve made an investment in yourself (or that you haven’t). That’s something that has the potential to breed confidence in your customers. Those communications will likely include your brand identity and your advertising style and core messaging — the pieces you’ll want to get right, right from the start.
So, if you’re considering hiring some outside assistance, ask yourself these questions:
– Does the necessary talent exist internally?
– Will handling this project internally put a strain on our resources?
– Will I have more or less control over the project?
– Will the project benefit from objectivity?
If your answers point you to finding outside help, it’s time to take a look at available marketing and creative service providers. Use your Chamber directory. Ask colleagues and friends for recommendations. If you search online, don’t simply review a firm’s portfolio, look for client recommendations. Interview the firms that appeal to you and ask for a proposal or estimate, just as you would for other services. That will help you understand the firm’s approach and give you an idea of what it’s like to work with them.
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