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One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is getting a break from the day long enough to focus on marketing. This is a big deal considering that nearly half of American small business owners run marketing entirely on their own and often spend less than two hours a week on it. Those with marketing departments often have small, stressed-out teams of two or three tasked with doing the work of a dozen people.
Enter the marketing agency. When a small business owner brings in external support, it saves them and their staff time, money and bandwidth. Marketing teaches two things about business — what works and what doesn’t.
One of the best times to bring in an expert is when a company needs to know where to begin. Marketing is always more work than people think. Some tasks might seem easy enough to tackle, while others feel insurmountable. To folks working at a marketing agency, this is when they roll up their sleeves and get down to work.
Related: Should Your Small Business Hire a Marketing Agency or Build a Marketing Team?
Components of small business marketing
Two critical components of small business marketing are practical strategy and workflow. Both help owners and their teams understand when they have gotten off track or if they have bitten off more than they can chew. Creating content takes time, and the honed skills to run a sharp digital marketing campaign from end to end isn’t something a person learns overnight. Sure, there’s a wealth of information on the internet about creating the right visuals, crafting copy that converts and clickable calls to action — but why take precious time away from running a small business when experts in their field with proven track records can step in to help?
As consumers, we often look at the marketing output of established companies and don’t see the hundreds of trips back to the drawing board or the lineup of people needed to make it look seamless. Big businesses have entire teams to run social media. Polished advertorial campaigns and 30-second Super Bowl commercials don’t happen on a whim, overnight or on a shoestring budget. Still, it’s essential to draw inspiration from these companies and to remember that the agency teams that make these happen are well-oiled marketing machines. Marketing has undoubtedly evolved since the Mad Men era, but it’s still part of the foundation upon which modern marketing firms are built.
There are small businesses fortunate enough to have staff whose sole job is to focus on marketing. Depending on the growth stage of those businesses, those people are most likely each wearing multiple hats. If strategy and workflow have not been affected by that stress, it’s only a matter of time before it will affect that department’s agility and alignment.
These small teams have people who are knowledgeable in content writing, visual design and public relations. However, crunch moments may be ahead when there’s a need to pivot SEO strategy, dig in deeper with A/B testing or welcome an audience on a new platform. Outside assistance is urgent for specialized marketing tasks like lead generation, sales funnels and automation.
Related: 5 Tips for Hiring an All-Star Marketing Team
The value of a marketing agency
A marketing agency can bolster a small business that needs to create or update its marketing workflow, process, ideation efforts and omnichannel approach. Fresh eyes can improve workflow or the step-by-step process of how work gets done and outcomes are achieved, making it easier to carry out the tasks for a podcast launch or create a planning framework for social media campaigns.
An agency can bring years of experience and learned lessons to develop a solid marketing process, from revisiting a target audience to studying market trends and creating suitable materials for the best reach. They can keep a small business focused on the best way to generate, select and develop ideas and have the right stuff ready to keep all the moving parts of small business omnichannel marketing running smoothly. Nowadays, a customer’s journey includes online and offline legs across various platforms. Aid from an agency can be just the thing to boost a brand, better accommodate customer experience, stop data bottlenecks and increase revenue.
Related: 10 Marketing Strategies to Fuel Your Business Growth
Hiring a marketing agency
What should a small business look for when hiring a marketing agency? It goes without saying, but proof of actual results should be the first thing. Check out case studies to learn more about their work and clients. Look for a portfolio showcasing various skills and projects in related industries. Discuss their process, ask about their oldest clients and find out why the point person they will assign is a perfect match. Discover their social media, blog or other places where they regularly contribute to better understand who they are, how they think and where they stand in their field.
Looking for an agency that works specifically with small businesses is essential. Many prominent agencies have small business referral partners that work with clients too small for them to take on. Research and ask around. Professional organizations like the Small Business Administration, SCORE and community networking groups are great for referrals. Don’t be afraid to expand a search past city limits, either. With the onset of remote work, small business owners can find experts anywhere in the world.
In conclusion, it’s an excellent move for a struggling small business to seek external help from a marketing agency. It’s a worthwhile investment that can alleviate capacity issues so owners can accomplish their marketing goals.