Before a business can figure out if they need a marketing firm’s help, it is critical to know what marketing is and is not.
Marketing is not sales. You need sales people for that.
Marketing is not customer service. There are people for that too.
Marketing is not crisis management or public relations.
Marketing is not simply graphic design and social media posts.
Marketing is teaching the potential and existing customer base what a company’s products/services are, what the company’s values and mission are and why the company is superior to the competitors.
Marketing is a field with proven best practices based on research. Marketers use tools to understand a company's goals and the customer’s needs and makes sure each understands the others.
Marketing is the use of persuasive techniques to capture people’s attention in order to convince them that this company has what they need and that it is easy for the customer to explore at a low risk. From there, the sales and customer service team take over.
Sounds easy, right?
As long as you have an understanding of rhetoric, market research, digital tools and the latest research on how people use social media. And the time to implement it all strategically.
In this technology-at-the-tip-of-our-fingers world, it may seem easy for the CEO, the sales manager or the customer service team to take the lead on marketing. But before one can press post or send an email blast, a strategy must be created.
No business owner got to where she is without a strategic plan. No one would doubt the importance of a strategic plan. The same goes for marketing.
There are many stages to marketing and not all businesses will need all stages.
Consultancy Marketing: A marketing professional will look at your plan or help create the plan. In this capacity, she is not executing the plan, but rather planning the course of action. This is done through analysis of a current plan, the customer base and the services.
Direct Marketing: This is sales directly to the customers. A direct marketing firm will help a company compile a mailing list, design the mailer and get them out. They will then measure the outcome of that mail campaign.
Digital Marketing: This is the use of the internet to communicate with customers, mostly through social media, paid ads and email campaigns. These firms have a strong understanding of SEO, e-commerce, social media trends and behaviors and email campaigns. The use this knowledge to communicate a company’s goals and values to a customer base and generate leads.
It is critical for companies to interview a marketing firm before hiring them. Like any job applicant in the company, marketing professionals or firms have a different set of experiences, skills and training. Companies need to pick what is best for them.
Things to consider when hiring a marketing firm:
Who have they worked for in the past?
What do they specialize in?
What aspects of marketing do they focus on?
What are their reporting practices?
What kinds of contracts do they offer?
What performance indicators do they use?
What will the first 3 months look like?
What does communication and collaboration look like?
The process of hiring one of these professionals should make a team feel at ease, like they have just found their missing piece. Be sure to find someone that fits with the team’s work culture, but who will also push the team when needed. This firm and their marketing team are professionals with an expertise, and they need to be comfortable and confident in their approach and product.