Online marketing isn’t the easiest of areas to manage but today it is an essential component of running a successful small business.
Technology is moving at such a rapid speed that if you don’t get on the bandwagon you can be left behind. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t have enough knowledge of marketing and decide to outsource it all to third parties. While this sounds appealing there are several downsides to this scenario.
Firstly, it will cost you more in the long run and you can’t always rely on getting value for what you’re paying marketing agencies. Many tend to charge through the nose and then fail to deliver on their promises. You can be left with a hefty bill and no visible results to benefit your business.
Secondly, you’re giving your power to third parties and hoping they will be a good fit when they won’t have the same breadth of knowledge across the business as you do. Chances are they won’t even take the time to learn about you or your business. It’s risky handing an area this important over to an agency that isn’t going to have the same passion, drive and care for getting it right as you will.
Many times it does work out OK and you do get what you want. The challenge is dealing with the fallout when it doesn’t go the way you want it to. Then you’re faced with trying to fix what the agency has done or changing to another agency. But because there is little intrinsic knowledge within your business about marketing strategy and activities, all the knowledge is with the agency you want to leave. Then you’re back to the beginning again, only with less money.
As you can see, outsourcing your marketing isn’t really the best use of your budget. Instead, here are four alternatives to outsourcing and keeping your marketing efforts in-house.
It’s hard to make good decisions about an area that you or your team has next to no understanding of. It makes sense to hire a communications professional or train an existing staff member for the purposes of marketing tasks as per #2 below.
While you don’t need to have experts in every facet of marketing, e.g. copywriting, Facebook advertising, branding, analytics – having someone (other than the business owner) who can coordinate all the different activities is a good start.
As your business grows you can determine which activities are more important than others. For example, you might decide that copywriting is a skill that powers everything else and you need to hire a team member skilled in writing copy or send the marketing person you already have to a course on copywriting.
While websites usually evolve over time, hiring a full-time web developer is not necessary for most small businesses. Creating a new website is something that is best outsourced on a project basis. However, having a team member who can update and tweak your site so that you can react quickly to customer feedback is a good idea. This means you’re not continually paying for small changes, you can react faster and can change things again if it’s still not right.
In summary, the more in-house knowledge you and your team can learn about the different elements of marketing will help you make better decisions around what you need and what you can do. This means that you won’t get swayed by persuasive marketers trying to promote their offerings.
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