Business owners understand how hard it is to keep up with the ever-changing world of advertising. And this is why so many small businesses partner with advertising or marketing firms to help them generate sales leads and drive revenues.
Here’s how the American Marketing Association differentiates between marketing and advertising:
“In basic terms, marketing is the process of identifying customer needs and determining how best to meet those needs. In contrast, advertising is the exercise of promoting a company and its products or services through paid channels. In other words, advertising is a component of marketing.”
Full-service marketing agencies offer a full range of services including paid advertising, strategic planning, creative, production, public relations, social media, digital marketing, and analytics. On the other hand, specialized firms might only provide a select few services. Knowing which type of agency is the best fit for your company will depend on your budget and specific goals.
Here are our top tips to help you find the right marketing partner for your business.
1. Understand your company’s needs
“What does your business need? It’s important to understand what you want to achieve through your digital marketing efforts and what you expect from an agency. Both sides of this partnership should have clear expectations from the start.
Set measurable goals so you can track your progress and understand when you have achieved your objectives. For example:
- I want to grow our organic traffic by X%.
- I want to get X number of leads.
- I want to drive X conversions during the holiday season.
When setting goals, you can use the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound) Marketing Objectives model.”
2. Conduct agency interviews
“Set up in-person introductions with a shortlist of potential agencies. Like a job interview, this will be a chance for you to ask questions of each other, talk about your needs and the agency’s capabilities, and decide if the relationship would be a good fit.
You’ll want to know if the agency has experience in your field, but they aren’t currently working with your direct competitors. If they don’t have direct experience, do they have something relevant that will translate to your industry?”
Source: Creative Intelligence
3. Know what you’ve tried and what works
“More importantly, know what doesn’t work for your business and be prepared to call that out. A great agency will want your insights to build out marketing plans and budgets that work from day one, taking what you know and applying lessons learned to find your success.
If you’re a B2B company targeting HR decision-makers, you won’t find much value in Facebook marketing. (Yet, you have to be there. It’s an unwritten rule.) If you’re a local B2C service provider, LinkedIn probably isn’t where the bulk of your marketing dollars should go. More than likely, you already know this.”
Source: Cowtown Creative
4. Zero in on scope when choosing a marketing agency
“Help refine the scope early on by discussing the objectives and how much budget is available. Some programs can be planned for reaching the destination as quickly as possible; others must stop for refueling mid-journey. The best marketing and PR agencies should be able to build programs that optimize for either scenario. This means sometimes you must work backwards from budget while other times you are seeking to maximize impact during a timeframe.
Remember that it’s not ideal to use up all your fuel and then hit pause – you end up giving up a lot of hard-earned ground to competitors if you suddenly go silent, and the perception of steady momentum is important for startup companies. So create a budget line and scope that is sufficient and sustainable and volunteer it early in the search.”
Need a Marketing Loan for Your Small Business?
If you’re looking to hire an outside firm to handle your marketing, First Union Lending can get you the cash you need. With a streamlined application process and loan products ranging from $5K to $1 million, we are flexible, fast, and efficient when it comes to getting you financing. Some clients get funded in as little as two business days. Call today!