It’s nearly impossible to succeed as a small business without some form of marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising are the instruments that will raise consumer awareness, bring in new customers, and increase income. You can’t make great money if no one knows you exist, even if you run the best, most positive, service-oriented company.
However, most small company owners find it difficult to allocate a marketing budget. Spending without the guarantee of an immediate return is a risky concept to embrace. They don’t have the specialised skills required to launch and manage their own frugal marketing campaign, and hiring a marketing company frequently appears to be expensive.
However, marketing companies aren’t always expensive when you compare the fees to the potential returns. Marketing companies can actually save you quite a bit if they’re successful, because their fees are less than what many businesses pay employees or consultants for similar work – especially when you consider that some marketing agencies are prepared to guarantee minimum levels of performance. Not all reputable marketing companies operate this way but there is no denying that these types of marketing companies can save you money.
Hiring a marketing company gives your business access to experienced professionals at relatively lower costs than what it would be if they were working as full-time employees for you.
If you aren’t sure about marketing companies or want to learn more before investing in one, there are other options available for creating and executing marketing strategies.
There are several alternatives to marketing companies, but are they good value, or just seemingly cheaper at the outset?
Hire an Employee
You can hire an internal employee with marketing skills to help create a marketing plan for the business. This is beneficial because they are familiar with the company culture and work environment so it’s easier to delegate tasks without having too many questions along the way. However, hiring someone full-time into the marketing role may be cost prohibitive if budgeting is already tight at your small business. Employees come with costs like superannuation, holiday leave and sick days, and they generally require the opportunity to advance within your company if you are going to retain their services and intellectual property long enough to reap the value of their acquired knowledge. If you hire internally, then provisioning extra training time may come into play as well.
Hire a Freelancer
A freelancer may be able to provide marketing ideas as well as design campaigns on a short-term basis which could be more cost-effective. However, marketing freelancers usually have limited industry expertise and may not be able to create a marketing plan that will lead the business towards success. Freelancers typically charge less per hour than a marketing company, but have more varied experience levels and may not be available during times when urgent projects arise. Freelancers, especially those you hire in an online marketplace like UpWork, generally provide more flexibility than outsourced marketing consultants but can’t match the seniority and credibility of a local consultant.
If marketing is not a priority, perhaps the company will rely on providing good service and positive word of mouth. This option might be good for small businesses that have limited marketing budgets but there are many hidden costs to this strategy, including possible loss in potential business opportunities, missed branding opportunities and being outpaced by competitors who do promote themselves.
Doing it yourself
For many business owners, there’s never going to be anyone who understands your business and your market quite like you do. However doing everything from research through to executing marketing plans takes time away from running your business, which impacts profits negatively over time as more experienced companies gain momentum with better marketing campaigns than yours due to their specialised focus on marketing.
What are you paying for?
So, what exactly are you paying for when you hire a marketing agency? Where is all of that money going?
Some of it is to the marketing agency. The majority of firms will have a specific account representative who can discuss your business, provide insight into your brand, and design positive interventions. You’ll also be paying for access to a team of seasoned professionals with various fields of knowledge in different areas. Some agencies specialise in one sort of marketing; others are full-service and offer a wide range of services.
Your campaign’s costs may also include the raw expenditures of your campaign. If your campaign calls for ad network advertising, for example, your monthly fee might include $10,000 of Google or Facebook ad spend.
Each marketing agency has a specific policy on how they handle your marketing. Some marketing firms are very transparent and open with their clients about all aspects of the campaign from conception to execution so you know what’s going on at all times. Others work in a more closed environment where everything is secretive until ready for release when it comes time to launch the marketing strategy or product being advertised.
Which option will produce the best ROI (Return on Investment)?
At the end of the day, your Return on investment (ROI) is what matters most in a marketing campaign. What was the ratio of money earned to money spent? How much extra cash did this campaign generate over and above the amount you paid for it? The higher your ROI, the better for your company’s returns.
Although there’s no magic formula for achieving a high return on investment, marketing firms are generally more efficient at getting one because they have access to the skills necessary to execute creative, successful campaigns, as well as a vested interest in your company’s success – they want to be retained. They have a stake in your success and will generally go above and beyond what you paid them to ensure that you get back more than what you paid for.
Hiring a marketing company is typically one of the wisest investments you can make since you’ll effectively create awareness for your organisation and entrust the delivery of a positive Return On Investment to seasoned professionals who have “been there, done that” all before.