I know what you're thinking, “they had better be interested in my success, since I’m paying good money for their services.” But let’s back the bus up a bit and really take a look at the situation to determine if you are right or not!
How many times, over the years, have you felt ripped off by marketing firms?
If you answered several, it may not be the fault of the firm you hired. It may be how you approached the concept of marketing your business.
Many business owners view the task of marketing their products and services as a cost, rather than an investment. And, therefore, they take a generalized approach in what they are trying to accomplish.
We explore the reasons why business owners do this in our article, "Should I invest in marketing or a truck?"
So, the premise of determining if the firm you want to hire is into you and your success, and not your money, actually starts with you!
What's the first question you should ask?
The first real question to ask is one aimed at yourself. Before you reach out for marketing help, ask yourself, “What does marketing success look like to you?” This revealing question is rarely defined by business owners.
It’s usually, “I want my website to be on the first page of Google”, or “I need SEO help on my website,” or “I want my website to be mobile optimized,” just to name a few. Not having a well-defined idea of what you want from your marketing efforts will leave you vulnerable to companies that are looking to exploit your uncertainty.
For example, is getting your business ranked on the first page of Google really a marketing goal?
I’m here to tell you it’s not.
Type in your business name right now into Google and see if your business is ranked on the first page. It probably is, unless you have selected a really common name for your company! What does that get you? Nothing, in and of itself.
So, why are you trying to rank for something you already rank for? Here's a Secret: You need to rank for keywords that are relevant to your business and what your customers are searching for.
This is where so-called marketing firms that just want your money will pounce with promises of getting your website ranked, not only in Google, but in potentially hundreds of other search engines and directories. And all for the low price of $59 on up to $500 per month.
But think about this for a moment...It’s highly possible that these types of companies are doing the exact same thing for lots of other companies in your same industry and geographic region. If so, how can they rank everyone on the first page of Google?
It's just a more elaborate version of "three card monte."
So, this is an easy way for you to know that they are only interested in your money. So ask this question in your initial interview...What other companies in my industry are you working with?
You have to define success for yourself, so you can determine if your marketing company knows how to implement a plan to reach those goals. Any marketing agency worth its salt will spend time talking to you about your business...your hopes, goals, and challenges...to get a better understanding of what you do and what you want to achieve. And they will do this before ever talking about price or about the promises they can deliver.
So, how do you determine success for your business? I’ll tell you a little further down the page.
Expecting Miracles for $500
A big problem that leads to unsatisfactory results is UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.
Here’s an example.
You tell your potential marketing company you have $500 a month to spend. They say no problem. We can get you ranked, do seo on your website and get your business name ranked all over the internet for $500 a month.
Since you only specified garbage marketing goals, you find 6 months later that you have received nothing for the investment.
No leads. No customers. Nada!
You thought the $500 a month you spent would yield something. Maybe if you spent more money, you could get something out of it. But what is the something?
Hopefully, by now you have spotted the “something.” The eventual goal of most small business owners is to generate leads that turn into customers, period! Defining that goal further is the task for both you and your marketing firm. The cost to implement and achieve your business goal comes later.
We are often asked by potential clients, “What should my marketing budget be?” It depends on your marketing goals is typically the answer. However, one thing is certain. If you want to generate $100,000 in annual revenue for $500 a month, think again! (That’s a 1,566% return on investment! So, good luck with that.)
You have to be realistic.
You see, it’s not just a question of dollars. It’s a question of what your business goals are, and what your marketing firm plans to do to meet your business goals.
Getting your website ranked on Google or getting more Facebook followers is not a marketing plan.
It’s just a waste of time and money.
How To Determine Your Business Goals
As promised, here are some guidelines to help you determine what your business goals should be aimed at. And, any marketing firm that is invested in your future should, at a minimum, ask you these questions.
- What are your financial goals? If your gross revenue is $1,000,000 per year and you want it to grow by 10%, then an annual increase in revenue in 12 months is $100,000. Be specific.
- What is your average order size?
- How many orders do you currently receive per month?
- What is your customer retention rate is? How many customers do you lose per year?
- What is your current website conversion rate? How many customers are you currently getting from your website?
- How much traffic does your current website generate?
Your main focus is revenue. But, you have to be realistic, as we mentioned earlier. Once your marketing firm has gathered the information, a more realistic picture can be developed to indicate the possibility of reaching your goals.
Who Should I Hire?
That's the six million dollar question. In our article “Why Should I Hire an Inbound Agency for my Small Business,” we discuss several reasons for hiring someone like us. But, we also provide a great FREE EBook on the subject that outlines everything you should know before you hire someone. You can download it below. Give it a look.
A few simple things to look for in determining the right firm for you:
- The success of their agency should depend on the success for your business.
- Your marketing firm should perform like a partner, not a sub-contractor.
- Especially where inbound marketing is concerned, they should only handle one client, you, in your industry in your geographic region.
- They should have a well-defined methodology and a way of tracking results.
- Transparency and regular reporting are important.
Take your time with hiring someone. Know yourself first and put some time into thinking about what you really want to achieve.
Get specific! If you want more revenue, how much more? If you want more traffic, how much traffic and why?
If you don’t know what you want and how you are going to determine the measure of that success, you’ll get what you paid for!
Image Credit: Photo by Rich Anderson | CC BY
Bill is the CEO and Founder of InTouch Marketing. Bill drives the vision and direction of InTouch except when England's playing in a soccer tournament, because everything stops!