Hiring an Outside Marketing Company: 4 Questions to Consider

Entrepreneurs often feel a lot of pressure to do everything themselves, but there’s no need to be a hero. Acquiring the services of an outside firm can be the right move. Here are four questions to ask when looking at bringing in a third-party firm.

Many small business owners try to take on graphic design, social media, public relations and other marketing efforts in addition to sales, operations, finances, HR, and so on. Doing this creates suboptimal results across the board and puts your business at a disadvantage when competing against larger companies with significant marketing resources.

Many businesses believe hiring an employee to handle marketing is the way to go. However, hiring a marketing person can be costly and difficult. Not only is finding talent challenging, but If he or she leaves the company, you have now lost that person’s skill and knowledge. As a result, marketing efforts suffer and the business must now invest time and money in hiring and training a new person.

There is another alternative to tackling your marketing efforts that may be a better fit for your business–hiring a company to do it for you. A company that specializes in helping companies execute their marketing efforts can provide better quality, expertise consistency–leading to better return on marketing investment.

If you think hiring a company makes sense for your business, it is important to ask the marketing company these questions:

Do you offer what I need?
Do your homework to understand what services the company offers? Is it a match for the types of marketing efforts you are looking to do? Ideally, you will want to identify a company that can address multiple areas. For example, if a company can manage social media, your email newsletter, and your website, you’ve now created a more efficient way to manage your digital presence.

Can I afford your services?
Determine your monthly budget for marketing and figure out where that money should be spent. Ideally, you will want to work with a marketing company that understands how to work with budget constraints to prioritize efforts. For example, if your budget is $1,000/month, a marketing company might recommend you invest in social media, online marketing and direct mail and forgo other efforts.

Do you understand my business?
For marketing to be successful, it must align with your overall company strategy. An effective marketing company will be able to understand your business, its goals and recommend the right tactics to achieve them. They will be able to analyze results to see what is and isn’t working, and make adjustments.

What experience do you have?
It is important to hire a company who has positive experience servicing its clients. Always get examples of previous work and see if you can speak with an existing client to get feedback on the overall experience.

Ultimately, the decision to outsource your marketing efforts comes down to whether you feel your business has the internal capabilities to see results. If you are not a marketing expert or don’t have the internal resources to effectively promote your company, securing an outside company will help you not only market more effectively, but also save you time and money.

Nevin Bansal is the president and CEO of Outreach Promotional Solutions.

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    Next up: How can CyberOhio assist your business?

    How can CyberOhio assist your business?

    Learn how CyberOhio is working to keep your company safe from cyberattacks.

    On March 10, we had an opportunity to connect our members with Craig Rapp (Director, CyberOhio) to learn more about the CyberOhio program and in advance of the initiative’s upcoming Business Summit. The CyberOhio Business Summit will take place on March 31 in central Ohio and it will feature cybersecurity experts to provide business owners with practical, understandable, and actionable cybersecurity information.

    CyberOhio was launched last year by the Ohio Attorney General’s office and is a collection of cybersecurity resources aimed at helping Ohio’s businesses fight back against cyberattacks. The goal is to provide the best legal, technical, and collaborative cybersecurity environment possible to help Ohio’s businesses thrive. 

    How can CyberOhio assist your business?  Click here to view our brief interview

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    Next up: Ask the Expert: How Can I be More Effective in Closing a Deal?

    Ask the Expert: How Can I be More Effective in Closing a Deal?

    “First off, it’s important to understand that closing the deal begins way before the final handshake and completed order form. One of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make is to believe that there is a magical closing line that you can pull out of your hip pocket at the end of a sales event that will seal the deal. Dangling a deadline or offering to hold a price in exchange for signing that day are tactics that go against the grain of the sales techniques that we foster.

    “First off, it’s important to understand that closing the deal begins way before the final handshake and completed order form. One of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make is to believe that there is a magical closing line that you can pull out of your hip pocket at the end of a sales event that will seal the deal. Dangling a deadline or offering to hold a price in exchange for signing that day are tactics that go against the grain of the sales techniques that we foster.

    “Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with potential clients is essential in sales. I always say, “We don’t sell, the prospect buys.” Following are a few examples of best practices that should define your sales process:

    “Set proper expectations. The most critical part of the sales process is how you structure a selling event. It’s important to lay down ground rules, or what we call an ‘up front contract,’ which can eliminate any surprises. It’s always best to let the sales prospect know at the outset that the meeting will consist of a) things you will talk about, b) any topics or questions they want to talk about, and c) what decision will be made in the end. 

    “Introduce opportunities for incremental decisions. If there is any hesitancy, let them know upfront that the decision today isn’t necessarily a sale. The decision can be as simple as an agreement to “test drive” a product or service or meet a second time. 

    “Don’t assume that price is the only issue. Take the time to understand the needs of the prospect; don’t just tout the benefits of your product or service. Understanding what is compelling them to do something different should be at the heart of every sales event.

    “Every salesperson has their own style, but these proven sales techniques can help you successfully close the deal and establish an ongoing relationship built on trust. It’s also important to understand that what you’re selling won’t always be a good fit for the prospect and that it’s ok to have a no.”

    Dave F. Harman is director of Sandler Training.

    Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day. 

    This article originally appeared in the February 2, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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    Next up: How COSE Events Helped These 3 Businesses Grow

    How COSE Events Helped These 3 Businesses Grow


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    Next up: How Entrepreneurs Can Best Launch a Content Marketing Program

    How Entrepreneurs Can Best Launch a Content Marketing Program

    In 1990, there were only a handful of ways a small business could reach and talk to its customers. Today, there are literally hundreds of thousands of platforms to do that.

    In 1990, there were only a handful of ways a small business could reach and talk to its customers. Today, there are literally hundreds of thousands of platforms to do that.

    The bad news, as Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi sees it, is this means there are hundreds of thousands of ways for a customer to ignore that message.

    So, how does a small business owner cut through the noise, pick the right platform and deliver the right message in order to have an impact on the customer? That’s the question Pulizzi addressed on the final day of the Content Marketing World conference during a session developed specifically for small businesses and start-ups. Below is the action plan Pulizzi relayed that will help small enterprises get their content marketing programs going.

    Find Your Sweet Spot

    What do you want to talk about? That seems like an easy question to answer, but it’s one you’ll have to give some thought to. Where does the knowledge/skill you possess intersect with the passion/pain points of your customer? Answer that, and you’ll know what subject you should be focusing on. Just make sure that the content you provide is interesting, helpful, valuable and consistent.

    Pulizzi also suggested writing down the goals you have for your content marketing at this early stage. That will help make it real and give you something to shoot for. Keep in mind, too, that content marketing is a long-term strategy. That’s where “be consistent” comes into play; keep hammering away at your audience with useful content to help spread your brand message.

    Content Tilt

    Now that you’ve settled on a subject, you have to take it a step further and tilt your content. What does that mean? That means look at your sweet spot in a different way and find a niche that your business can own. “You can’t go niche enough,” Pulizzi said.

    Build the Base

    Your content needs to have a home base. You’re a good writer? Then your home base should be a written channel, like a blog. Is your brand message more suited to visuals? Then you should be thinking about video, Pulizzi said. He laid out a simple formula for discovering what your base should be: One content type + one main platform + consistent delivery+ a long period of time = the base.

    Harvesting an Audience

    All this hard work you’re putting into creating content won’t mean anything if you’re not talking to anyone. Pulizzi suggested entrepreneurs build this audience on the platforms they own, rather than focusing a lot on social media platforms. Why? Because at any given time, social platforms could change their algorithm and your message could be pushed out. You don’t own that channel so you have no recourse. Where do you have the most control of your message? That would be with your email subscribers. Your content efforts should prioritize getting emails from your audience so you can more easily direct your message to them.

    Monetization

    We all want to make money, right? Once you have your content program up and running, begin thinking about the monetization side. What do you want your subscribers to do? Are you looking to retain them? Do you want them to buy more of your products? Do you want them to be more loyal? Do you want to increase attendance at your events? Figure that out and then ensure your content is designed to achieve the monetization goal you’ve settled on.

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    Next up: How has advocacy and the GCP PAC supported you and your business lately?

    How has advocacy and the GCP PAC supported you and your business lately?

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is a non-partisan, member-driven endeavor committed to advancing the business community’s interests by building and reinforcing relationships and supporting candidates and current elected officials at the state and local levels of government. By contributing to the campaign efforts of those who will further advance our shared priorities, we provide you with a unique opportunity to advocate for initiatives and best practices that encourage economic growth and prosperity. 

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is a non-partisan, member-driven endeavor committed to advancing the business community’s interests by building and reinforcing relationships and supporting candidates and current elected officials at the state and local levels of government. By contributing to the campaign efforts of those who will further advance our shared priorities, we provide you with a unique opportunity to advocate for initiatives and best practices that encourage economic growth and prosperity. The GCP PAC is a strong, unified voice for businesses of all sizes and industries in our region and aids businesses in educating key decision makers on the issues that are important to you. Our role is to provide our members with the means for concerted political action. And, the dollars contributed through GCP PAC are used to provide support for governmental leaders campaigning for election who share your interests.

    So, how has advocacy and the GCP PAC supported you and your business lately?

    • November election outcomes mirrored COSE’s/GCP’s position on four ballot issues.
    • State budget approved with personal income tax cut and deduction without shifting the burden to businesses.
    • Ensured entrepreneurs will not be penalized in the form of increased workers’ compensation rates, outstanding balances, or uncovered claims costs for assuming space that was previously inhabited by a completely separate business with negative claims experience.
    • Opposed legislation that jeopardizes local hiring requirements.
    • Secured needed reforms in Ohio’s charter school reform law.
    • Governor Kasich signed S.B.1 to protect Lake Erie and Ohio’s water quality.
    • Business, political leaders connected at the COSE Day at the Capitol and the GCP Public Officials Reception.

    Interested in learning more about the GCP PAC?  Visit our website here or e-mail advocacy@cose.org.

    Please note individuals, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships and sole proprietorships can legally make contributions to a PAC. Contributions must include itemized allocations by partners in partnerships or members of a LLC. Ohio law prohibits other corporate political contributions.

    Your participation in the GCP PAC is completely voluntary. Donations are not tax-deductible and will be used for political purposes. An individual may contribute up to $12,532 annually to an Ohio Political Action Committee. You may choose not to participate without fear of reprisal. You will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of your contribution or decision not to contribute.

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