Running a marketing firm has opened my eyes to how small business owners don't understand the value of hiring a professional marketer to get their marketing strategy on point. Sometimes it can be frustrating for both parties to come to terms for ideas and how to execute them.
To start solving this problem, clear communication at the beginning is key to avoiding work related problems that arise. Always know, marketing is a partnership - you are trusting someone other than an in-house employee to carry out tasks for you to bring in new customers or to increase brand awareness.
No one can race alone, even if you are on the racing track by yourself - there is a good chance you are racing against time. Small business and startups who hire internet marketing agencies have to do their own part for the partnership to work effectively.
So before a project is started, small business owners need to be clear on how they will like their marketing handled. So, before you go around spending on your marketing, it’s better to ask yourself how willing you are to work with this firm or consultant.
A few things to ask a marketing consultant will be;
- Can I provide may own content to be marketed? (You might get a discounted rate)
- Do you create content and also market them?
- I'm I willing to leave my comfort zone and try new ideas?
- Will I have a say in the marketing process
- How often will I see a marketing report on tasks
- How does your business model work?
- Do you have a retainer?
- How are your rates?
You don't have to commit to every marketing idea provided by your marketing consultant. Working with a professional digital marketing expert doesn't mean you have to be involved in everything proposed. Always know that marketing is idea driven, so what you are really paying for are ideas and execution.
To get you going on the questions to ask, here is where you start;
Understanding Your Communication Style?
Businesses are ran by different business owners with different ways of thinking and execution. Some small business owners might prefer to communicate with their marketing service a few times per month, while others on a weekly or even daily bases.
Most communication is carried out primarily through emails and scheduled face to face or phone call meetings. Understanding your communication style is very important when searching for a marketing firm.
You want a marketing service that is a good fit for your company. If you like instant communication and the firm you work with has a more laid-back approach to answering calls and emails, it will be a difficult working relationship to maintain and grow to anything productive. Learn about the 4 common communication styles.
How Knowledgeable Is Your Marketing Agency/consultant?
When hiring a marketing firm, you have to know a little bit about how they work and why. In most cases, if you need training for your team - can your marketing firm deliver by educating employees on different strategies and approach to marketing.
For example, a digital marketing consultant may be asked to teach a business owner how to set up a professional Facebook page.
Know your needs and expectations and communicate them to your prospective marketing firm.
This will help you find the best fit for your needs and build a strong marketing partnership for the future. See 8 Benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency over in-house.
What Are Your Expectations For Your Marketing Agency?
One big problem that crops up in marketing firm-client relationships is when clients expect services that the marketing firm doesn’t actually provide.
Not every marketing firm does everything. The team that might create fantastic signage for your store could be a total flop when it comes to event marketing.
Understand what your team does, what they do well and when you’d be better served by seeking out another pro to handle your needs.
It’s not always cost-effective to have your marketing firm do everything for you.
Taking some tasks in-house or finding a more affordable third-party provider to handle those tasks can make the most of your marketing budget.
However, do make sure everyone knows how to work together to support your overall brand and message. Client's expectation with a marketing agency.
Do Deadlines Work Well For You?
In order for a marketing service to carry out any tasks, they will need certain things from you in order to execute the work.
It requires a lot of content to run marketing campaign that produces good results.
As a small business owner, will you be able to meet the content requirements to carry out your marketing tasks on time?
Creating a project timeline is an important factor in making sure your marketing campaigns are carried out successfully. How well do you handle deadlines?
What Is The Creative Idea Process?
Know exactly what your marketing objectives are.
Do you want a marketing consultant/firm to come up with creative ideas for your business, or do you want them to implement ideas you already have for execution?
Your answer might change over time as your business grows, but when you need a marketing firm - it's best to know your stage in the marketing process. As you and your marketing service build a long-term relationship, some of the creative ideas might be Expert-generated while others come from the business owner.
The best ideas are often collaborations between marketing firm and small business. Branding is a big factor in marketing online, you want to stay unique and bring attention to your product without misrepresenting it.
The creative process for businesses are different as mentioned earlier.
When it comes to expertise, some business owners believe that sharing almost everything they know results in empowered, educated buyers, while other business owners are more closed to providing any expert content.
Will There Be Guarantees?
Guarantees are always good, because it shows confidence. This might mean if something doesn’t work out, you get your money back - no hiccups. Great marketers will present you with tactics and tools that have worked well for companies similar to yours in the past, as well as their own creative approach to implementation and building a formidable marketing strategy that cranks results.
The sad bad is, it's almost impossible for a marketer to guarantee that your audience will respond the way you want them to, even a great marketer can't control any visitors behavior but can influence it to make decisions. Marketing is like life - It's an opportunity not a guarantee.
For example; The best marketing campaign in the world can be useless if there’s a major light outage the day it is published and no one sees it.
So you won't see any guarantees in marketing and if you ever get a guarantee on anything in advertising or marketing, my best advice is run for the hills.
Do You Want Your Marketing Firm to Work With In-House Professionals?
You run an small business and may have a full staff for task like Graphic design etc. Will you want your marketing firm to work with your team on tasks as you build your strategy as to continue your relationship with present employees?
Make sure your new marketing firm is open to working directly with your employees.
Don't assume this communication to happen naturally. some firms do and some don't work with in-house employees, unless they are C-level executives. Make is clear to your marketing firm what your needs are and how you want them to continue.
You are the business owner and only you knows where you want your business to go. A marketing firm can help you explore new strategies and ideas to implement and harness growth.
As a small business owner communicate with your marketing firm and make sure to follow up when you are not clear about strategies or ideas.
If you will like free access to our digital marketing e-books and leadership publications. You can download for free here
Divine Tumenta is an entrepreneur and professional digital marketing expert based in Los Angeles. He has worked in digital marketing for more than 8 years. He is currently founder and CEO of backlinkfy.com and a go to consultant for startups and small businesses in the USA.