Let's be honest, we all need help sometimes. Your small business has many needs that require a variety of skill sets which makes it difficult to be a "One Man Army" or to "Do It Yourself". One of those needs is small business marketing which can either make or break your business.
Many small business owners jump from one marketing tactic to another with very little results. Why?
I believe it's because they have no marketing strategy. You must implement a marketing strategy before applying any tactics.
I believe you should think of marketing as a system because you will find your marketing much easier to execute and it will be more effective. Don't forget what system stands for... Save Your Self Time, Energy & Money.
A small business marketing consultant or agency can be an invaluable resource. They can help you create and execute plans that will market or sell your company's products and services to new and existing customers. Companies in all different shapes and sizes benefit tremendously by partnering with a marketing consultant or agency.
Are you struggling with the direction of your marketing efforts? You might find this article helpful, Why Less is More When It Comes To Your Small Business Marketing.
Keep in mind, there are different types of marketing methods and it is super important to know and understand which of them fits your small business marketing needs. It's highly likely your marketing strategy will be a combination of the methods below. Here are some of the more common marketing methods used.
1. Traditional Advertising
Traditional Advertising is paid advertising in Television, radio, magazines, newspapers, outdoor billboards, etc. It is focused on delivering messages to a huge audience.
2. Public Relations
Public Relations (PR) focuses on building goodwill within the community through news announcements, public appearances,press releases,etc. Unlike Traditional Advertising, this method can be paid or free. PR aims to build a credible, strong brand with the community using the press and media.
3. Referral Marketing
Referral Marketing, aka "word of mouth", is a method of promotion using referrals. This is the largest part of many small businesses marketing efforts, but most do not have a referral program or strategy in place to consistently and systematically generate leads from referrals.
4. Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing is a modern type of advertising using digital channels such as SEO, websites, social media platforms, email marketing, pay per click advertising and mobile marketing. Digital marketing is huge and encompasses a number of different disciplines.
Identifying the right strategies for your small business can be challenging and if you are struggling then it's time to get some help. If you are thinking about enlisting the help of a marketing consultant or marketing agency then you'll find the information below incredibly helpful. This is not a decision you should make lightly and the questions below will help you vet and identify the right partner to work with.
You want to work with someone who knows your industry and has the capability to understand your unique needs.Look for a consultant or agency that has enough knowledge about the nature of your business. They should also be willing to take the time to completely understand your business and what you want to accomplish.
If you are going to partner with someone you must know about their past experience, especially their marketing achievements. How have they helped their previous clients? What marketing strategies and tactics have they used to be successful?
Not all marketing efforts are successful and you should know how or where they have failed. This will give you a good idea how honest the consultant or agency is and whether they have learned from past mistakes. Their answer to this question can be very telling if you pay attention.
Ask for a physical portfolio or visit their website. I recommend you check out feedback, testimonials, or recommendations from current or past clients who know the quality of their work. If you need to, ask for a list of references.
This is a trick question. There is no shortcut to success and no one can guarantee it. It's better to get an answer that involves steps or methods they will take to achieve your marketing goals and how they will measure success. Be wary of anyone who claims things like "We'll get you on page 1 of google search guaranteed".
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The best answer is that both parties, consultant or agency and yourself, should work hand in hand to achieve marketing goals. This is a partnership and will take effort on both sides to be successful. A marketing agency or consultant can take a lot of work off your plate, but they will still require your input and assistance to help you reach your marketing goals.
You need to have a firm understanding how you will be billed and the total cost of their services. I would also recommend you get a proposal, scope or work or agreement in writing to ensure everyone is on the same page.
You want a consultant or agency that will let you see the magic as it happens. Set an appointment when you can sit down and ask questions about the entire process. Don't be a stranger to the people you are partnering with.
This is my favorite among all the questions in this list. The consultant should be able to tailor-fit the strategies with your current marketing needs. Depending on your needs, the consultant or agency should be able to use a combination of the different types of marketing methods (Traditional Advertising, Digital Marketing etc) to achieve your goals.
This question separates the men from the boys. A consultant who can answer this question proficiently and succinctly knows their value and worth in the market. They know what they are good at and what they're not. Someone who can answer this question has taken the time to craft their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) and they'll most likely take the time and steps to help you accomplish your goals.
The most important thing when hiring a marketing consultant or agency is to find someone who is a great fit for your business. You will be working a lot with this company, it should be with someone you know, like and trust. They should also take the time to truly understand your business and where you want to go.
So what do you think about this list? Did I miss anything? Feel free to comment below and share.
Tim Fitzpatrick is the President & Founder of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We’re the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.