A Business Owner’s Guide to Successful Marketing
Seems like a pretty straightforward question with a fairly simple answer. However, when speaking to business owners across varying industries, this is the number one question that seems to be the most difficult to answer. Of course, money is always the go-to answer. And for many, that's enough. But what happens when you need to market your business? When you need to make connections with potential customers to sell your products or services?
Many times, the problem business owners face when marketing their business is they didn't do the research from the beginning. They create a business based on knowledge of a need, start networking and making sales and before you know it, they're making money. However, that initial wave of success is often short-lived, leaving many companies wondering, “what's next”. And that “what's next” usually means a call to a marketing company.
The importance of business analysis before marketing
Yes, marketing is important for any business to be successful but so is understanding your business. I can't begin to emphasize enough how crucial it is to ask yourself, “Why did I start my business?”. If your only answer is money, it's time to think a little harder. Inevitably, it all comes down to money. But there's more to it.
Here are some critical questions you should be able to answer fluidly:
Were you able to answer these questions honestly and quickly, or did you have to stop and think and become a bit frustrated?
If you were struggling, don't worry. You can get it ironed out. But understand that as the owner of a business, it's crucial you get this solved before you contact a marketing company.
Because, at the end of the day, marketing companies are not business consultants. They're not your Oprah, hired to give you spiritual enlightenment and guide you on the path of business success. They are hired to help you connect with your audience so you can make sales.
How a marketing company can help your business
Luckily, most marketing companies are equipped to work with businesses who have “lost their way”, so to speak. They are able to evaluate current strategies, plans, and methods and determine breakdowns and successes. But a true marketing company that's worth working with can identify your pain points and be honest and transparent with you about the hurdles you're facing and may continue to face. It's your job to either be receptive to change or understand that you're not ready, be honest with your team and wait to work with a marketing agency when you know you can put in the work. Don't invest the money if you're not willing to invest the time.
When you're ready, your marketing team can guide you on the path of success.
Most digital marketing agencies are skilled in many of the following areas:
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Web design
- Web development
- Paid search
Be mindful that not all agencies are alike. Some offer a variety of services while others may be more focused on one area, such as social media. It's important to be clear on what is offered so you can set clear expectations in the beginning.
Stop setting up your marketing agency, and your business, for failure
As a business owner or manager, when you hire a new employee, you're hiring them because of their talents and because you trust they'll get the job done. The same goes for your marketing agency. You're hiring them because they're experts in their field. Marketing is what they do for a living. Keep that in mind when you're compelled to tell them, at every turn, how to do their job.
Yes, successful marketing is a partnership between a business and their agency. Feedback, of any kind, is always sought after. Going off the grid is just as harmful to your marketing success as micro-managing every step and strategy. When you decide to hire a digital marketing agency, keep in mind a few items to maintain a great relationship and profitable outcome.
How to prevent a failed marketing relationship with your agency:
- Be on the same page - make sure your team is on the same page before contacting an agency to lessen confusion internally
- Set clear goals and expectations in the beginning - know what you want so your agency can make it happen - and be realistic
- Establish points of contact - don't have too many employees demanding items from your agency
- Follow the plan - strategies are put together for a reason, so stop changing course when it's not needed
- Focus on what's important - understand what’s a priority and what's not, as even the smallest change in focus can have lasting impacts on your goals
- Communicate regularly - be sure to provide feedback and updates on what's going on in your company
- Understand timelines - not everything you want needs to be done yesterday, so allow your agency to work within realistic timeframes
- Know your budget - if you're overworking your agency, more than likely, you're overworking your budget
- Be receptive - change is hard, but be receptive to something new if it makes sense
- Leave ego at the door - in marketing, understand you have to pay attention to your customers
Teamwork makes the dream work
You and your marketing company are both striving for the same goal. Your success. Without it, everyone fails. Rather than looking at your relationship with your agency as one of a business and its vendor, consider it a partnership - a team. Work together and communicate often. You'll be happy you did.
So, take a deep breath, put on a little Enya, and start doing some research. Find a marketing agency you can team up with who can provide the services you need. Onward to success!