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By Laurel Burton, Founder of Laurel Bay Marketing
The decision to outsource marketing efforts can make one apprehensive. After all, who knows your business better than you? What good can come from turning all of it over to an outside company?
The short answer: a lot! But to get the most bang from your buck, you first need to ask yourself the following question.
What Marketing Functions Do You Plan to Use?
Marketing works best when it's omnichannel. In other words, you're not putting all your eggs into one basket as tactics are concerned.
The gig economy can help you coordinate these areas. To help guide you in your response to the question, here are some of the best areas to focus on if you're having trouble with the decision to hire a personal marketing company.
1. Lead Verification and Conversion
As you know, there is a big difference between unqualified and qualified leads. Much of this work can be boiled down to rote activities such as verifying contact information and booking appointments.
But these simple activities require time and effort. While dealing with the day-to-day responsibilities of your business, these resources can be hard to find. It has to get done, though, or you risk looking down one day and seeing an empty marketing funnel.
How you go about converting leads can run the gamut as well. Everything from Facebook and LinkedIn to automated chat-bots can help get you there. But these things need to be maintained and turning to the gig economy to get the job done delivers ROI without cutting into your more pressing priorities.
2. Pay Per Click Campaigns
You may feel more comfortable managing local online advertising in-house. After all, much of that advertising is based off real-world relationships you've already taken the time to establish.
But pay-per-click, or PPC, presents a great opportunity to test your marketing firm and its ability to effectively manage this avenue for you. Agencies and professionals built on the gig economy are more well-versed in the details of PPC management.
They know what to tackle manually versus what can be automated. They have the knowledge and expertise that cuts out the required learning curve you and your team would need to address to manage it effectively. They also have time to drill further into the analytics and make tweaks on-the-fly that can boost ROI.
3. Search Engine Optimization
SEO can be confusing when your main objective is putting out the best product or service. It's about more than just using the right keywords.
It's also about making sure your information is structured properly. It also means ensuring there are consistency and agreement between your site, online listings, and social media channels.
An example: say you've moved locations in the last year but your online listings give the old address while your Facebook gives the correct one. This creates confusion in your SEO as far as search companies are concerned.
Getting down into these minutiae of detail is tricky business when you have customers to worry about, sales to generate. Add to your concerns the fact that SEO trends are changing every year, and this one facet of your marketing becomes a full-time job no one in your company will have time to manage.
4. Social Media Management
The ordinary trajectory for a business looking to dip toes into the social media marketing waters is this. Take it on yourself until you find out there's a lot more to it. From there, it's either hire outside help or drop the campaign altogether and get back to it later if you have the time.
Much goes into effective social media management. For starters, you have to be active. That means posting something every day (or close to it).
Beyond just posting, your content must resonate with the audience. You need to create aesthetically pleasing posts with both the right wording and striking visuals.
Once you've committed to a schedule, you need to monitor it. This will tell you what's working and what isn't.
Lastly, it's important to get involved with the community. Answer inbox questions and comments, respond in a professional manner to both positive and negative feedback from the comments and build relationships with your friends and partnerships by lifting them up when possible.
Finding time for all of this while handling the core of your business is almost impossible. Consider gig economy help instead. That way you can hire a freelancer or freelance marketing firm at a fraction of the price and headache of bringing on a new full-time staff member.
5. Content Writing
You may feel a little protective of this area at first. And that's fine: you should be! But there's a way to be involved without it taking up all your time.
Embedding a freelance team into your company culture is the answer. This isn't something that has to be done physically. You can certainly work across phone calls, chat rooms, emails, and text. In fact, you should.
Be as involved as you want to be. Give content creators all the tools, lingo, and information they need. Then, trust them to package it into a cohesive message that speaks to and resonates with your audience/customers.
Great ideas for blogs, social media posts, and press releases can come together quickly. But the writing process is something unto itself. If you try to handle every last detail, you'll quickly find yourself running out of the necessary energy to do it right while managing your business.
When hiring a content writer, make sure they know how to hook their audience. Here are three sure-fire ways to do it every time.
6. Audio and Visual Content Production
Content writing is important, and the written post truly isn't going anywhere. But more and more people are showing a preference for audio and visual content. That covers both podcasts and videos.
These have unique challenges to do well. First, you need top-line equipment, which may not be financially doable. Secondly, you need the ability to work it.
There are film schools out there for a reason. It takes know-how to shoot and edit a video that will put your company's best foot forward visually.
Podcasts may not be as intensive on the visual front. But you still have the equipment and editing time and expertise to consider. Do you have the time and energy to spare?
Many businesses do not. That's where the gig economy can really be a saving grace. It connects you with the right people (more affordable), without killing your will to produce these dynamic and interesting forms of content.
Putting It All Together
We've covered the areas that can benefit from being outsourced. Now you need to decide where you stand as a company. Here's how to outsource it effectively.
1. Determine the Active Channels
You don't have to be involved in every area. It's possible to do one or two things and to do them really well. So if you're worried about cost, don't be.
It's a good idea to have a foot in each arena. But your marketing success doesn't have to come all at once.
You may have a robust LinkedIn platform but a minuscule following on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. That's okay. Just be aware of the areas where your marketing efforts are strong and where they could use the most help.
A marketing firm can help you continue to hold firm in one area while plowing ahead in others.
2. Analyze Your Payroll Talent
Some things you always may want to keep in-house. That's great if you have the experts on board who can do it.
But as you're analyzing the talent you have on-staff, really scrutinize whether they're being used in the best manner. You don't want to misuse them if they could leave a greater impact on other parts of the company.
What's the full scope of their capabilities? Will they be living up to their potential if you have them managing a Facebook advertising campaign or writing blog posts? If not, then it's time to consider outsourced marketing.
3. Brainstorm Areas That Could Easily Be Outsourced
This particular step arises from the first two. You know where you're effective and where you're not. You know what your people are capable of and where they should be used for maximum impact.
Now it's time to put the pen to paper and figure out what you want from your marketing. Think both in terms of long-term and low-hanging fruit. Where do you want to be in months/years versus what you can accomplish in the next few days or weeks?
4. Start Small for Peace of Mind
Baby steps are great if you're gun-shy about turning over your marketing outreach to an outside company or freelancer. This gives you the opportunity to learn about the firm's work ethic, communication skills, and ability to get results. From there, you'll feel a lot better about adding more to their plate.
Your Decision to Outsource Marketing Is About Results
Never forget this. You want to outsource marketing for two reasons: a return on investment and effective use of resources. The right firm can help you do this every time.
Contact Laurel Bay Marketing today if you're ready to see the results for yourself. We can start big or small, whichever you prefer. And we look forward to taking your business to the next level!
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Anson Thompson, The Thompson Group