By Robert Johnson
Robert is the Head of Marketing at Starchup. He previously worked with small businesses as a marketing consultant.
Dry cleaners are operations experts, but marketing is not always second nature. Many hire marketing help with the hopes of accelerating growth. This can certainly lead to success, but too many cleaners get burned by agencies that do not fulfill promises or website developers who do not pick up the phone after cashing the check.
Whether you should outsource your marketing depends on your own abilities to market. Once you decide to outsource, the key decision metric is the return on that investment.
“Do what you do best, and outsource the rest.”
In today’s competitive marketplace, marketing is crucial to your business. You can no longer rely on hanging out your shingle and watching the customers roll in. So when deciding who should be doing your marketing, ask yourself, “Is marketing something I do best?” Are you familiar with the most cutting edge techniques for acquiring new customers using digital advertising, website optimization and SEO, content management, or reputation management?
The ultimate value of a marketing expert is the ability to leverage their knowledge about how to market your business and their ability to execute on that knowledge. If you do not have that same knowledge, outsource the job to someone who does.
Focus on ROI
Whether hiring a part-time staff member, a local agency, or a consultant, you want to ensure the highest return on your investment. Here is what you should do before putting resources towards outsourced marketing:
- 1) Define Your Goals. Determine what you want to achieve: new customer acquisition; current customer engagement; or general brand awareness. You may not be experts on their tactical details, but knowing your goal will keep the scope of work in your control.
- 2) Know Your Business. Cleaners often hear things like, “You could be doing a lot more with your website” or “You are missing a lot of opportunities”. One cleaner we work with was once told, falsely, that 40% of their website traffic was coming from India. The more you know beforehand, the better you can judge a prospective partner. And, if someone makes an assertion about your operation, ask them to back up their claim or be able to prove otherwise.
- 3) Understand What They Are Offering. It is easy to get lost in buzzwords when talking with a marketing agency. If you are unsure what something means, ask for answers in plain English. What marketing channels will they use? How does this deliverable help reach your goal? How do they define success?
- 4) Know your budget. Cleaners can pay anywhere from $500 to $10,000 or more per month to a marketing agency, and that is before the cost of advertising. It is important to understand what they are providing and what you expect in return.
- 5) Record and Report Results. Define what metrics will be used to track success. If your goal is acquiring new customers, Facebook “likes” and site impressions do not constitute success. For instance, if you are hiring a company to help SEO, track how well your website’s Google results improve.
Working with a marketer can be beneficial when managed correctly. Make sure that you know what you are getting into and why. Be informed about your business so you have a benchmark to measure success, ask the right questions, and ensure you have clear goals that all parties can work towards.
For additional information about growing your customer base, working with a marketing professional, or utilizing technology to grow your business, visit Starchup.com to speak with one of our experts.