How to outsource your digital marketing (and make the most of it)

In this series for the #12BlogsOfChristmas, we’ve already touched upon some massive topics, and alluded to the fact that as a business owner or marketing manager, there are so many different pulls on your time. So is outsourcing your digital marketing (or at least parts of it) a good idea?

There are really two standpoints here – the first is for the smaller business where cashflow can be an issue. You know you need to “do digital”, but you’re unsure where to start. Still, the lure of doing it yourself because “anyone can post on Facebook” seems to make sense and why would you find the extra budget.

The second standpoint is for slightly larger organisations upwards, where you may have a marketing team (or you might be part of it). You have already seen that digital can turn results, and its the job of the marketing department to exploit this. In fact, the reality is though that when it comes round to a performance review, the rational of “well I grew our Facebook following” simply isn’t going to cut it.

The key to the responses to both of these standpoints, however, is to realise what exactly goes into digital, and the complexity that goes in behind a seamless delivery to really make digital work for you.

The main point here is that no one (single) individual can really hold all the skills to deliver a complete digital marketing strategy, and if you’re a business owner, do you really have the time to go on the journey of learning all the facets you need to consider?

Lets make a quick list of some of the skills that are required for a successful digital marketing strategy to work:

  • Business Strategy
  • Creative
  • Artwork
  • Copywriting
  • Video Production
  • Web development
  • Keyword research
  • Link building
  • Campaign conception
  • Web development
  • Social Media

… the list goes on!

Granted there is some overlap in some of the skills listed above, but there’s also a lot of disparity. If you’re in a position that you can cover all of these bases with staff in-house and build your own marketing team, then thats great – go for it!

If, however, like most businesses I come into contact with you can’t cover all of these bases, then the investment in the area (or areas) where you’re lacking for a digital marketing agency to take the lead and provide a deliverable strategy and campaigns, really is a good idea.

There are some keys, however, to working with an external agency in order to get the most out of them, and to make sure you’re not being ripped off.

#1. Know what you’re trying to achieve

Any third party agency you bring in to work with you on your business needs some form of direction. An agency relationship is a partnership. They bring the technical and tactical expertise and you bring the industry knowledge. That’s the way it works. You really need to have a business plan in place to say “in 12 months we want to be here, and in 36 months we want to be there”.

These targets could be turnover, number of sales, leads, etc… Its your business and you will know how it works internally, but your agency will need to know what you’re aiming for so that they can aim to reach (or surpass!) your target.

#2. Be open to ideas

The joy of bringing an agency on board with you is that they work across numerous industry sectors with multiple sizes of clientele. They have the ability to see what other companies are doing that is both succeeding and failing and advise you from this position of hindsight.

You will find that some agencies have their preferred ways of doing things, but those that are really worth their weight are those that take a holistic overview of the marketing and / or technical platforms available to them, do the research and then make their recommendations based on the data thats coming back to them. This will always give the better result to you as the client.

#3. Set definite milestones and keep each other accountable

One of the key parts to setting up the relationship with your chosen agency is to discuss milestones. These need to be acceptable to you so you can see progress and know that they’re pulling their weight, but also challenging to the agency themselves (however, still achievable).

This is where most client / agency relationships ultimately suffer. There is no accountability or milestones, and therefore overtime the discussions start to happen surrounding “what exactly are they doing for the money we’re paying them?” and as soon as that doubt creeps in its difficult to come back from there.

There is a counter side to this, however, which is that the agency will need to be kept “fed” with information, performance, results, resources, etc, to keep your marketing fresh and up-to-date. If you can’t commit to this side of things, then your agency will also suffer. It is always a good idea to have a main point of contact both agency side and client side to manage this process, and both of these contact will need the support of the colleagues in order to keep the process flowing.

#4. Finally, share your successes

Nothing fires an agency up more than knowing that their work has contributed to a big success for their client. By their very nature agencies are set up to go after the next big thing – the next target or milestone. Therefore it’s vital that you share your successes (and failures) with your agency. It makes the relationship a true partnership, rather than a supplier / client contract.

 

View the full series of the #12BlogsOfChristmas.

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