Why Hire an Outside Marketing Firm? Some Signs That You Might Need Some Help (And, That’s Okay).
There seems to be a general misconception that hiring a professional public relations, advertising or marketing firm is for “big companies” or “celebrities.” And while both have these professional firms and experts in their pockets, like having a lawyer or an accountant, they are not exclusive to “the rich and famous.” In fact, most small to midsized businesses find that having a professional firm outsourced is far less of an investment than hiring in house.
Sidebar: The average salary of an entry level PR professional in house is $30,000. When you add it taxes and other employment items, the cost to a company is actually $42,000/annually. FACT: On average, this person actually performs “billable work” 13 percent of their day to an organization, and takes, on average, one month of total time off. Add to that, this entry level person will need a computer, need even basic “PR” programs and by they way, will actually have to invest company dollars to actually “do” the programs. And, after about 14 months, they’ll quit or you’ll fire them. (yep, that’s the average lifespan of an internal marketing person). Or, you could hire a professional firm. Gain tremendous expertise, stability and honestly, save a TON of money. Why hire even an entry level person at a cost of $42K/annually to enact a program that’s $50,000 (hey, that’s $92K), when you can simply hire a firm to perform the $50K program. You’re welcome, we just saved you forty two large. Agency joke: how much is a $50,000 program. Uh, $50,000.
So, if “cost” is a barrier to hiring a professional – you’re talking with the wrong organizations. The actual costs, or in reality “investment” in your marketing, is always commensurate with the size of the organization, the type of the organization, and the work that needs to be completed. Just because the website for Budweiser probably costs tens of thousands of dollars, that does not mean ALL websites cost that much – and so forth. All marketing “things” vary in cost because of an endless number of factors. A good PR professional can explain that in great detail.
So, let’s eliminate cost to hiring a professional firm. And let’s be honest, if you do “do it all in house,” you’re clearly not “doing it all” – it’s not possible. Let’s look at a few signs:
1. You’re Constantly Over Extended.
Ever said, “I’m so busy, I can’t even think about that right now.” It happens to everyone from time to time, but if that is daily or even just regular, you may need a little help. If you’re trying to take on everything yourself, yes, you’re working hard – you just may not be working smart.
Surely, there are items a good firm can lift from your burdened shoulders, even if it’s simple things like distributing a press release to the right outlets, or making follow up calls and booking and fulfilling interviews. Perhaps you just need something simple designed. Hey, you may need some fresh ideas, concepts and senior level strategy. Damn, call The Eisen Agency, call Pam Gilchrist, call Jill McBride, just call a reputable professional. They’ll be honest. If you call on and hire “Bob’s PR Firm” or that guy that knows that guy that met that guy once – and it fails. Again, that’s not on us, you may have chosen, well, poorly. There are good firms out there. And no The Eisen Agency is not “the best.” No agency is. The “best agency” is the one that’s right for you.
Note: while clearly WE think The Eisen Agency is your best choice, there are excellent firms out there that “do what we do” that we suggest you talk to, based on their expertise, high level of ethics and integrity, and the tools and resources. If you don’t hire us, we recommend:
Jill Z McBride & Associates
Dix & Eaton
Roop & Company
Regardless of what “it” is, hiring a professional to help, even here and there, can be an enormous savings of time and resources – and, if you chose the right firm, the work is done responsively and professionally. It’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t mean “you failed,” it means you’re smart enough to understand that you can’t do everything but you still have a job to do and a goal to reach. The agency isn’t there to “replace you,” it’s there to make your job easier and help – from handling a small project to managing a big campaign.
2. We’re Not Getting Leads
Unfortunately, that’s a common theme among organizations that are struggling with their marketing. That is a telltale sign that something is amiss – from not having a marketing plan or direction to simply not doing much of anything proactively and hoping the phone will ring, the traffic will come and the sale will be made.
Too often, I see organizations that have not fostered or protected their brand, and wonder why sales or down or business is slow. Then, when you ask to see their marketing plan, they don’t have one. Their website has not been updated in years, let alone yesterday. They have no quality business collateral and no proactive outreach to prospects. No lists to call upon. No sales protocols to follow. No collateral to share their story. These days, multiple touch points proactive offered multiple times is what will bring in business and help to gain market share.
Just because you built “it” doesn’t mean they will come. Just because you made a better mousetrap, doesn’t mean they will beat a path to your door. The “Snuggie” is a robe you put on backwards. It has sold millions. Marketing. Tide is sodium phosphate and water – like every detergent in the grocery aisle.
If your message is wrong, or unclear, people won’t be able to make the buy decision. If your collateral is old and outdated, or you don’t want to use it, or you don’t proudly send people to your website – you need help.
Simple Note: How Does a Good Agency Get Paid? Great question and a simple answer. The truth is, most good agencies simply charge time and materials – think of us like a plumber or drywaller. Your toilet is broken. It will take us 3 hours in labor @ $100/hour and $500 for a toilet, seal and pipe in materials. So, $800. Probably just like your company bills. Now, if you want a $10,000 gold toilet with a heated seat and remote control, we can do that too, so that work is $10,300. Make sense?
Also, a simple note of caution: publicity – you probably call it PR but that makes my brain turn to cottage cheese – does not work like a light switch. You are either doing publicity or you’re not. You can’t turn it on and turn it off. You must simply invest the time in doing the work and it must be done long term. Or not. There is no “one cost” to do things. It depends on the quality of the work, what’s involved and, well, how much it costs. Our firm can do “anything” from a marketing perspective. Keep in mind, “anything” has a broad price range. If you don’t know what you “should budget”, call us, we’re the honest guys. We’ll give you a good ballpark. As would any reputable agency.
3. Our Competition Seems to Be Everywhere
They hired someone like us. We are a firm whose sole focus is to develop tremendous awareness about your company and your offerings, and get those customers to make a conscious choice to select your business or your product. We get you in the papers through publicity and media relations, we run advertising programs that generate leads and build your brand, we create websites that generate traffic and so on. We create integrated marketing programs that build your business. If you always seem to be seeing your competition, they are most likely “working smarter.” They are creating an image – fostering and nurturing their brand. It is far more difficult to sell if no one knows who or what you are.
Something To Noodle On: Maybe you or your boss wants to do more speaking engagements. How about we create a speaking series and speaker’s bureau, book the gigs and manage all the logistics. Then, we combine that with a webisode series to generate some custom branded content, create publicity and experiential marketing opportunities, terrific social media opportunities and even a subsite to share the expertise and develop the company and the boss as a thought leader.
Agency Joke: What’s an ad cost? Whatever you want to spend. The variables are endless. A good agency will work with you to determine what you need and what that investment would be before you ever spend a nickel, or a dime.
4. We’re Stale
Often times, organizations hire a firm just to get some fresh perspectives or ideas on how to market their product, their business or their service. You might be amazed at all the ways to go about marketing and creating engagement for your organization – things you may never even thought of or heard about. Know what? That’s okay, because that’s what a good firm is for.
What is the last WOM campaign you did? How is your podcasting and webisode series doing? Are you developing solid custom branded content, and being sure it is shared on social media, technorati, and RSS feeders. If that all sounds like jibberish, sadly, you’re far behind. If you know what it is, but just don’t have the time – well, refer to item #1. The fact is, good agencies know all the tricks and tips and tactics to get you noticed for all the right reasons, and do so expertly.
We understand proven, fresh, traditional, innovative, solid strategies so you need not “figure it out as you go along,” but rather really rely on someone that knows what they’re talking about and has the contacts, tools and expertise to actually get it done. A great idea and concept well executed will indeed grow your business.
And, perhaps equally important, they have the focus and firepower to invest the time and serve you. Even a fresh look at your collateral is important. It is amazing where design has come and how amazing collateral pieces can be conceived and developed for a modest investment. You should do what is called a “communications audit” each year, review all your stuff and see how it looks, feels, reads and fosters the brand so you can share your story – ultimately creating engagement.
5. High Employee Turnover and Lack of Morale
Which means they don’t feel that they have good leadership that is communicating to them the direction of the company. Oh, you don’t have a direction? Refer to item #3. Perhaps your employees don’t know what’s going on, what is the “State of the Company,” or even something as simply as “I always see our competition, but we don’t do anything.”
What are you doing to communicate internally, but more importantly, is it resonating and are they understanding? Are you in the papers? Are you advertising? Do you give your team the tools they need to succeed? Do you innovate? Do you have regular updates with the entire team? Are they proud of your company, you don’t know? Have you gone through speaker’s training and can confidently say that I’m awesome on stage and in front of people?
Truth: 98 percent of b2b decisions are based on the top official. If they don’t know who you are, don’t vicariously trust you through the myriad of marketing outreach efforts, or don’t believe you can do what your sales guy on the phone right now that I’m trying to get off the phone because I’m busy writing this article is saying – you have virtually no chance of winning that business. Who was that guy? What do they do? Just send me some information. Okay, he’s gone. Was that you’re firm?
6. We have no room for improvement.
Then we would like to hire you to share. The fact is, every business has room to improve.
Note: According to research, most business executives say the biggest area of weakness is internal communications and cause marketing management.
That is the sign of good leadership, of valuing innovation and fresh ideas. If you truly believe that nothing could be done better in the action of building, growing and protecting your business and your brand, then we applaud you – you are the first. You may be doing all sorts of things “right,” and that’s a great place to be and you should indeed be proud, but you must constantly evaluate and scrutinize and research and grow. Change is a constant.
The bottom line is simple. Large organizations hire firms for fresh and amazing ideas, to look at entirely new concepts and come up with something truly extraordinary. Small organizations hire firms to develop even simple items, but items that are professional in quality so they can grow as well. Like a good drywaller or plumber, they are there when you need them and they provide expertise and management that you may not have time to do, you don’t have the “bodies” to do it, or you just need a professional to look at it and recommend.
Noodle on This: Most often, your first “touch point” with a prospect or colleague is a business card. THAT is their first impression of your business. Why are you printing them on your in house ink jet? The most expensive business card is the one that people look at and go…huh?
Nothing, absolutely nothing is more important to your business than your brand and the reputation. Grow it, foster it, protect it.