Digital Marketing Needs Assessments: When a Business Needs Support
Most businesses start out solo – one person with an idea, a product, a dream. For entrepreneurs, this often remains the case even as the business grows.
However, we all eventually need to start enlisting some kind of help. A prime example is when the business reaches the sales stagnation stage where you can’t grow without increasing demand then you will look to marketing to create that demand for you. Or perhaps it comes from the realisation that you as an entrepreneur don’t possess the skills, or don’t enjoy marketing enough, to do it yourself, and so it languishes on the to-do list of things that never get done.
At this stage, you will no doubt consider calling in the marketing professionals, usually through a dedicated marketing agency. Of course, procuring an agency isn’t the only option open to you when it comes to buying support or outsourcing this aspect of your business. Indeed, it may not be the right option depending on what you need. But there are some distinct advantages to hiring a digital agency.
A marketing agency will bring more to the table than simple technical knowledge or strategic support. An established marketing agency will give you access to high end tools and resources that a small business simply could not justify the spend for from their own budgets.
Expansive media monitoring tools and complex social media listening software are just a few examples. Hiring an agency may offer you the benefits of these applications, giving your business a deeper understanding of the current market, the conversations that are happening about you – or your competitors – and give you the best foundation on which to build your marketing messages going forward.
If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner then there is one trait you will have in abundance; ambition. You will want to be sure that you are getting this same passion and dedication from anyone you consult from outside the business to help you move to the next level.
Marketing agencies are known to be tough environments to work in. They breed competitiveness and often, only the best thrive to the highest levels. But even at the intern side of operations, marketing agencies will enjoy competition for basic and entry positions. They often the best talent in the industry. Hiring an agency means you are essentially hiring these people to work for your company.
One of the myths surrounding the use of marketing agencies, or any consultancy service from outside your business, is that they can’t do as well-rounded a job as a staff member because they don’t know your company inside out, the way you do. Of course, it’s true that an agency may have experience of organisations like yours, or they may have seen campaigns that could work for you, but they will never have the time to get to know your company like their own.
The reality is that not only is that not necessary, but it is actually a good thing. While there is a certain amount of orientation with a new client that agencies will do, to ensure they know enough about who you are and what you do to communicate for you, being an outsider is great. It gives them the ability to bring a fresh perspective to you.
Often, these agencies will be very experienced with a range of business tactics from sales and events to business development and procurement. Therefore, a marketing agency will be able to give you feedback and advice that goes beyond simple marketing tactics. And if you’re an entrepreneur then a large agency will know the journey you are on to grow and scale your business model and may have quality advice for you from their own experience there too.
When we can put our egos aside at the meeting table we can learn that what we thought we wanted from our company marketing wasn’t actually what we needed. As a business owner, you cannot expect to be an expert in every area of business from sales to finance to HR. Marketing, as a discipline, is no exception.
Part of a marketing agency’s role will be to go above simply delivering on your list of demands no questions asked. Instead they will help you to analyse that list and ensure your plan really is the best, fastest, most cost-efficient way to get you from where you are now to where you want to be. They may have seen great projects that could work for you that you’ve understandably never heard of. Listen to their advice and allow them to guide you to avoid any pitfalls that you might otherwise fall foul of alone.
Marketing agencies spend all day, every day doing what you are about to pay them to do. They eat, sleep and breathe marketing in all its forms. Staff will usually have chosen to dedicate their lives to a career in the industry and will often be found researching the latest trends and techniques in their own down time to help them perform better.
As a whole agency, their cumulative knowledge and experience often means they can hit the ground running for you, from day one. They may take time getting to know you and your brand, but they will probably already know what your competitors are doing and why it’s working – or not working – as well as knowing media contacts, industry blogs, social influencers, all regularly seen by your potential customers on a daily basis.
Even when you choose to go with a marketing agency that doesn’t have direct experience in your industry or field, an agency will have the scope within its sizeable team to go and do the research and take the time to get to know you.
There are so many facets to consider when choosing a marketing agency that is the perfect fit for you; budget, sector experience, creative ideas, size, location, etc. Ultimately however, you are trusting these people to come inside the inner fold of your business, to get under your company skin and take it to the next level. In our experience, the success of your marketing endeavours will often come down to the people in the team.
Look for people who share your value base and ethos. People who make you feel excited and positive but also people you can trust, people who will warn you of potential challenges and risks. You will have to work closely with this group and so you want to choose them as carefully as you would choose a new staff member within your own team. Do they feel like the type of people you could enjoy the company of as friends? Do you trust their experience? Do you value what they’re bringing to the table? If the answer is yes, then most other challenges can be worked around.