Hiring an agency can be extremely beneficial to helping your business grow if that agency is proficient in the expertise brought to the table. As an owner of an internet marketing agency this post will probably not make sense at first. Why would I suggest not outsourcing your internet marketing to an agency? Here are 3 reasons and a better explanation.
1. Reason #1 - You aren't building any business processes.
Outsourcing by it's very nature is a shortcut to resources that a business may not have within their staff. It's understandable that smaller businesses may not have an online marketing capability or strategy. They need help so they outsource and just pay someone else to do it for them. The problem is that once you fire the agency you are left with no knowledge of how processes work and usually abandon the benefits.
2. Reason #2 - You aren't learning anything
It's easy to just set it and forget it when it comes to hiring an outside firm to do your internet marketing for you. It's also lazy and costly to allow this to happen. Internet Marketing is a process that can be learned by staff members in your company.
3. Reason #3 - There's a better way to work with an outside agencyThe good news is you don't have to fire your agency if they are willing to do just a few things.
- Your agency should be transparent in how they are reaching your goals
- Your agency should be able to show where your money was spent and the return on investment (ROI)
- Your agency should be willing to adapt to your individual needs
The Traditional Agency Approach
After working in a variety of roles with various clients I've seen how each agency can operate. There are some that I would consider bloated with 50+ employees that run around trying to keep up with deadlines all the time. Then there are some that are smaller and build teams based on the needs of the client. I would say the former is more of a traditional advertising agency model like the TV series Mad Men.
Now I'm not suggesting a large agency has employees sitting around drinking and smoking during the day.
Our agency isn't like that and it never will be if I can help it. This has slowly become clear over time as we have developed a more effective way to work. Setting up a retainer to do all of a client's internet marketing never made sense to me. How can an outside agency know what is happening within a company on a daily basis? The answer is they can't.
The Consultative Agency Approach
One day I woke up and realized what made us different than those other agencies. I've always believed in teaching a client how to manage their own marketing than just doing it for them. In the beginning we do start off providing most of the work but we show and educate our clients so they can follow the process and understand the reason for doing things this way.
It's probably less lucrative to operate this way. There's probably more money in providing the service without educating the client. However, I didn't start this business to just earn as much money as possible. I started this business because I loved web design and learned a lot about internet marketing over the years. Helping people understand how it works gives me great satisfaction and a much more pleasant work experience. Mostly because clients have a much more positive experience and enjoy the process.
The way this works is instead of us applying a blueprint process that is supposed to work for all businesses, we build a custom plan based on your companies goals.
Business A sells widgets online. Our first step is to figure out who their customers are by researching history and defining a particular buyer persona and creating content that answers their questions and solves their problems. We attract visitors to the website and engage in ways that these personas would follow and nurture through the buyer journey. In the end our goal is to sell the product. Based on more research we determined a specific pay per click campaign would enhance certain areas that were undeveloped or are new markets. We found specific special social media networks where there were a large number of these personas. We would train staff how to engage on these networks to create an awareness and gain a following.
Business B provides a local service. Our research would start with looking at the market and competition. Sometimes these can be very small or very big and every one is different. We may not use defining a buyer persona in this case but rather go after a jobs to be done approach. Depending on the service it could be something simple like a insurance where the agency is looking to create awareness across many different personas. We would also focus on Local Search to stand out by optimizing Google My Business matching NAP (name addresss phone) across directories. Social media channels would be different for an insurance agency and trainiing staff how to manage this would be important.
That's why I called this the consultative agency approach. We have to learn and adapt to each business we work with to find the best fit for helping that business succeed. There is no one size fits all or blueprint on how to make any business successful. There are guidelines and basics that we follow but they must be adapted for each and every client.
Of course the first step in finding an agency is getting educated about how it works. Our approach is to help find ways to make your individual business grow. This would start with our free assessment of how your business looks in terms of your online marketing.