Often, when people consider the challenges of their business and solutions to a problem that they’re struggling with, they wonder whether or not this is an issue that they should be bringing to a marketing agency. Why should you hire a professional marketer or agency at that?
1. The Difference Between Marketing and Branding
First, let us define the difference between branding and marketing because most people often use them interchangeably but mostly due to a misinterpretation of what each means.
Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is a communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not. Branding is done using a pull strategy, attracting prospects inward. Branding could be in the way someone answers the phone at your company, the quality of your promotional copy, a slogan, or a lifestyle that your products represents. It is should be strategic and planned. However, more often than not, it’s an afterthought and usually determined by the perceptions of those buying.
Marketing on the other hand, is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. Marketing uses a push strategy that involves getting your message out. It is about you promoting your services and telling your target audience how they can engage with you. It is tactical and direct, meaning an action is tied to a specific desirable result. Push tactics are usually education or promotion based where the conversation goes mostly one way. An email marketing campaign telling people about a new product or service, for example, is a push strategy.
Marketing Strategy or Plan is all encompassing and will often employ both push and pull tools and tactics. It’s a detailed plan that includes every marketing tactic and initiative and pairs it up with the overall business goals (revenue goals) of the company from A to Z. It’s the complete marrying of a sales cycle and its various conversion points with the marketing campaigns that drive them. A great marketing strategy will consider the high level revenue goals of the company and how it can engage and move a target audience along to take whatever action is next in the buying cycle, and keep them moving. This is a very important differentiator as far too many agencies have become order takers and do exactly as asked without asking any questions of their own to clients.
2. Marketing for Growth and Scalability
When you are forecasting for growth/expansion you want to make sure your brand, your image, and how you are being seen and perceived can bear it. Having a proper marketing strategy creates a foundation for you to build on with your business. Once the foundation is laid you have a scalable business that you can build on, pass on, or sell. This usually is timed also at the point you reach in your business when you have decided that you no longer want to do business with everyone. You have a target audience or niche in mind and now you have to create a strong brand and message to attract them. You are now at the point where you can choose, and choose powerfully, who you want to work for and who you want to work with. An agency like Karrots can help you be purposeful in that message, and delivering it in such a way that the right people want to do business with you, and the wrong people won’t.
3. A Marketing Agency Saves You Money
Another thing to consider that many people don’t is how valuable paying for a marketer truly is. Most businesses don’t necessarily understand what we do and what goes on behind the scenes (part of a whole other discussion to be had later). But many people think that just because they have their own business and have sold products or services to people that this must make them marketing experts. Why would they pay for someone else to do it when they can save money by either doing it themselves or hire their daughters friend who is a graphic designer, their cousin’s cousin who’s a copywriter, or just use one of those online contests? Sometimes you get lucky and it works out, but more often than not, cheaper doesn’t always mean better.
There’s an old saying that goes something like you can get it “Fast, good or cheap. Pick two.” This is because no matter how hard you try, you could never have all three.
In fact, more often than not, cheap means wasting more time that you don’t have to get an output you aren’t happy with because the person on the other end isn’t actually as skilled as they should be. Marketing agencies are skilled at selecting talent and have a wealth of experience so it isn’t a game of Russian Roulette when hiring them. I know here at Karrots Inc. we have tried, tested, and taught our staff over multiple campaigns and had many successes with a team member before we will say “they are someone we can trust.” So you it isn’t a gamble and you aren’t wasting any valuable time.
4. Established Companies Can’t Afford NOT to Hire Professionals
If you are just starting out and cannot afford the rates of a marketing firm, there are different avenues you can try when it comes to design like Fiverr, Design Crowd, and Elance to mention a few. But you must keep in mind that these avenues are not going to help you with your overall marketing strategy and messaging. They will get it done and will do whatever you ask them (as they interpret it) but are not thinking about how your business card ties into your logo and whether or not they’ll help you convert at the conference or trade show you plan on attending next month. This is a very important distinction as many people think that marketing is a fancy term for graphic design but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Think about it, just because I own a pair of scissors and know how to use them, does that make me a hair stylist you would trust to cut your hair? I sure hope not! Likewise, you wouldn’t ask a plumber or electrician to build you a house. Sounds crazy but it happens all the time in our industry.
5. Wasting Your Own Time/Resources? Why, What’s It Worth?
Sometimes when you think you are saving and cutting costs it might actually be costing you potential revenue. Do you want to grow your business? Duplicate your success in other markets? Expand globally? Why not? What’s stopping you from turning your business into a global empire? Most business owners that work with agencies do so because they want to build a business that is successful whether they are involved or not. They want a business that isn’t dependent on them driving it. Or sometimes, they are just simply tired of being complacent and want more from their business. If any of these resonate with you, then it might make be time to consider working with an expert to create a proactive, planned, and purposeful brand and marketing plan for your business. Over time it will not only save you time and money but bring in more revenue as well.
6. Overwhelmed by Project Management
If you don’t have an internal marketing team, then you have limited resources. You don’t have anyone to follow up on the printer, make sure they’re getting the right files, or manage and oversee projects from beginning to end. You are likely wearing many hats and can’t even manage all of those, let alone the marketing. You find yourself in a panic late at night when your printer sends you a proof and you are completely unhappy with it. Something is wrong but you don’t have the resources or time to fix it.
The entire marketing and production process takes a lot of time. Whether it’s a website or magazine ad, every detail must be reviewed and looked at carefully. Now if you’ve done all that yourself, you might think you saved thousands dollars, but when you run up your own billable hours in terms of how long that took you, you would realize you actually lost money by your efforts. That is where marketing agencies are of most value. At Karrots there have been countless occurrences where we have had to save our clients and take on a project at the eleventh hour to turn it all around (and we do) but we often wonder “why the heck didn’t they just call us in the first place?”.
5 Questions to Determine If You Should Consider Hiring A Marketing Company?
- Do you want to grow or expand your business?
- Do you have a database (Full Mailing and Email Addresses of Clients)?
- Does your business have a brand? Is it clear and consistent?
- Does your business have a marketing plan and budget? Is it targeted?
- Does your business have a website? Is it being promoted? Is it converting?
If any of these questions aren’t clear with an answer or you think there’s room for improvement, then it’s time you set up a meeting with an agency to discuss your business goals. Remember, it’s just a meeting and doesn’t mean you are committing to anything. It’s just a conversation to explore whether or not there’s value in working together or not.