While the turn of the year can lead to some conversations about how marketing is going to change, with technologies like Augmented/Virtual Reality being adopted somewhat more rapidly each year – for most companies, the best way to kickstart your marketing, and do better than you did last year, means just going back to basics.
Before you get overly ambitious with your 2023 marketing resolutions that you’re probably not going to stick to (but good luck!), here’s some helpful hints that have stood the test of time, and have a bigger chance of actually having an impact on your bottom line.
- Speak (market) clearly, plainly, and directly. Tell people exactly what they need to hear, why it’s important, and what to do. If you can’t say something clearly and quickly, you’re probably not clear on what it is you’re trying to say. Make your emails shorter. Reduce the amount of copy on your website. Get rid of the filler content in your proposals. Be clear, concise, persuasive, and respect the time you’re taking from your customers and prospects.
- Show up! You can’t just sit back and wait for people to find you, and come to you. You have to be in their email inbox, on their LinkedIn feed, at trade shows, in their mailbox, on a billboard as they’re driving down the road, in their Google search results, in their Instagram/Facebook/TikTok feeds, on their favorite podcast. Know your audience – figure out where they spend their time – and show up.
- Provide Value. This is so simple, but so often overlooked. Don’t just list your services. Don’t brag about your awards, your accomplishments. If you just take the slightest step back, and look at your customers – what is it that you do, that they really value? How do you make their lives better? Focus on that, and convey that to your prospects.
- Remove obstacles to engagement. If you’ve been successful in getting your prospect’s attention – if you’ve told your story clearly, in a way that is about the customer, not about you – don’t shoot yourself in the foot by making it hard for them to learn more, start a conversation, or buy from you. Pretend you are a prospect on the receiving end of that email campaign you just sent, and go through the steps of acting interested and responding – does anything hold you up? Do things like checking out your site on mobile, tablet and desktop; try responding to an email; make sure your calls-to-action and contact information are presented clearly; are your social accounts up to date, and are responses to DM’s answered quickly; does it take you too long to generate a proposal or quote? Getting people’s attention, and generating interest can be hard – make sure you aren’t sabotaging your own marketing efforts with a broken process or some other issue on the back end of your marketing campaigns.
When to Outsource Marketing, and When To Hire Full-Time Staff
For many small to mid-sized businesses that are looking to accelerate and improve their marketing functions, they have a decision to make: should they hire full-time staff positions with salaries, benefits and potentially 1,880 working hours in a year to dedicate to their companies? Or do they outsource all, or parts of their marketing function to a full-service agency, a fractional Chief Marketing Officer, or a combination of multiple marketing services companies each filling different roles? Every situation is different, and we’re obviously in the business of helping companies who choose to outsource part of all of the marketing functions for their business – but here are a few tips to help you navigate this business challenge.
Where to Start, No Matter What
You have to start with a marketing plan. If you don’t have a strategic marketing plan, you can’t have any idea of what skill set you actually need, whether for an employee, or a services firm.
As a business owner, your strategic marketing plan can come from 1 of 3 places:
- Your own head.
- A strategic marketer that you hire, and make a full-time employee.
- A strategic advisor/marketing consultant with an agency, or an independent contractor, hired for a short period of time with the assignment of studying your business, and creating a workable marketing plan for the year ahead.
Without a strategic marketing plan complete with a budget, goals, and expected results, you will have no idea what skills you’ll need to execute that plan. So before you worry about hiring that designer, or social media expert, or marketing coordinator – you need a marketing plan complete with business goals, marketing goals, messaging, tactics, roles, and expected outcomes.
Benefits of hiring a FTE (Full-Time Employee)
- They are dedicated 100% to you, you control all of their work time
- If you’re going to need them more than 800 hours/year – you’ll save money paying them a salary rather than what a contractor would most likely cost.
- They’ll (theoretically) know your business better because that’s their sole place of employment. They’re just there more.
Benefits of Outsourcing Your Marketing to an Agency
- Access to the specific skills you need, when you need them.
- A team that has worked together on various projects.
- Broader experience and perspective.
- Fixed-costs – no benefits to be paid, or employee-based risk.
- An outsider’s perspective (not scared to tell the hard truth, rock the boat because of internal politics)
The reason that so many companies outsource a large part, if not all of their marketing function, is this: “You need A LOT of different skills, but you may not need them for very long”
The Skill Sets You’ll Need Throughout the Year:
- Senior-level Strategy
- Media Planner/Buyer
- Graphic Designer
- Back-End Web Developer
- Front-End Web Developer
- Marketing Coordinator
- Video Editor
- SEO Specialist
- Paid Search Specialist
- Social Media Coordinator
- Event Planner
- Audio Engineer
The One Marketing Employee That is Invaluable to Have In-House
When your marketing function grows to the point where you have enough going on to warrant a full-time employee, there is one place every organization should start. It’s the one hire that makes their lives, and ours as your agency partner, better from day one. The Marketing (Project) Manager. The most important part of this person’s job isn’t to be the best marketer in the room, or the best designer, or the best copywriter: it’s to make sure that everything happens on time, on budget, and that the owners, the executives, the agency partners are all on the same page with what’s going on, and things get done quickly and effectively.
At Ainsley & Co., we have Project Managers that we use on every client engagement, so you’ll get to see what we mean. But when your marketing activities increase to the point at which you’re ready to bring on someone full-time – make this your first marketing FTE, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.