You know you need to market your business. You know you need to market it online. But the question is: Should you handle your online marketing in-house, should you hire a marketing company or should you use some combination of both?
Unfortunately, there’s no one right answer. Some businesses thrive on in-house marketing. Heck, you might decide to take crash courses in web copy development, web design, search engine optimization (SEO), graphic design, and social media management and handle it all yourself.
The key is to understand the true cost of marketing. Because whether you’re handling it in-house or outsourcing, there is a cost involved.
Few things are more precious than time. When it comes to handling your marketing in-house, time is going to be one of your biggest expenses. This is true whether you’re personally taking ownership of your online marketing or it’s someone on your staff.
Keys to In-House Marketing Success
- Clearly Defined Roles – Whether your in-house marketing is spread between one or multiple individuals, it is essential that you clearly define who is responsible for accomplishing each task.
- Time – This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. Each individual who contributes to your marketing plan needs to have the time to accomplish their task. As a company, you’ll need to realistic look at how much time each task should take and whether or not your employees have the bandwidth to handle their role. If an employee’s time is already fully allocated, you’ll either need to shift their responsibilities or find someone else.
- Ability – Not everyone is suited for every job. While your employees probably excel at what they were hired to do, it’s unlikely they all have a background in marketing. In order for your in-house marketing efforts to succeed, you’ll need to identify those within your company who are capable of conceptualizing, developing, and launching a marketing plan.
Marketing firms specialize in marketing. They don’t specialize in preserving cars, putting on music concerts or running a restaurant. When it comes to working with a marketing firm, it’s essential that you work with a company which partners with your own.
Keys to Successfully Working With A Marketing Firm
- Inquisitive – In order for an outside firm to really get to know your company, they’re going to need to ask lots of questions. You want to work with a firm that gets to know your products and services. Great marketing firms ask about your target audience. They learn about your short- and long-term goals. Who is the project for? What do your customers expect? What problem are you trying to solve? What will your customers accomplish? They evaluate what you’re currently doing, they help you identify any pain points, and they present options.
- Point of Contact – While a fully automated process is wonderful, marketing is a fluid effort that changes and adapts. When you work with an outside marketing firm it’s essential they have a clearly defined point of contact within your company. This individual (or individuals) is available to answer questions, review progress reports, and approve new initiatives.
- Budget – As with any aspect of life, when it comes to online marketing, you get what you pay for. Yes, platforms like Facebook are ‘free.’ There are online apps like WordPress which can be used for ‘free’ to design your website. And, you could snap your own company photos for ‘free.’ Unfortunately, these aren’t truly free. They cost time to design and manage. You’ll want to make sure you have an adequate budget to maximize your efforts. It’s also important to note that free can also have a cost if the free tools are not used effectively.
- Advice Your Can Trust – Not every marketing campaign is the right choice for every business. You want to work with a marketing firm that will give you advice you can trust. There is never a silver bullet, and nothing is set in stone, but effective firms will question what needs to happen, where it is implemented, and what to test. The ideal marketing firm will help you determine what will be the most effective steps to reach your goals.
If you’re still unsure whether you should handle your marketing in-house of through an outside firm, a digital evaluation is a good place to start. This will allow you to see where you’re succeeding and what areas in which you could improve.