The old saying “professionals rely on professionals” is never more true than when it’s applied to outsourcing PR and marketing. Done badly or half-heartedly, PR and marketing will just add bloated content fodder to your channels as well as cost to your bottom line. Done well, your PR and marketing will add genuine value for your prospective clients, it will build trust and loyalty, and – most of all – it will help you and your sales people convert.
We’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of small businesses and start-ups and they fall into a few categories, if we apply broad brushstrokes.
Before we get into it, PR and marketing isn’t essential for every business. If your company turns over enough to pay the bills and pay wages and you – as a business owner – are working humane hours AND you are happy with that, then click away now. Congratulations, mazel tov, PR and marketing isn’t essential for you – and if it’s not essential, you won’t put in the necessary investment of time and money to make it work for you. It’s true to say there are countless businesses in the UK getting by without regular PR and marketing.
However, if you can identify with any one of the following, then you should seriously look into outsourcing your PR and marketing to an experienced agency …
- You have ambitious growth plans
- You want to break into new markets or launch a new product/service
- You feel like your company’s performance has plateaued
- You’ve bolted PR and marketing on to someone else’s job but it’s probably not their thing
- You’re a start-up founder or small business owner and you’re still doing everything yourself and working ridiculous hours
- PR and marketing is something you know you should do/try but you just can’t seem to find the time
So just what can an agency offer you, a small business owner? And how can you get the best out of an agency?
If growth is an ambition for your start-up or small business, then marketing is essential. Try as you might, you can’t see every prospect face-to-face, so the need to identify leads and communicate on a large scale is vital. And this is where a good agency can bring real value. Fundamentally, effective PR and marketing campaigns target large, highly relevant audiences and drive high quality leads to your website, landing page, product page, event sign-up, etc.
The “how” of that will change depending on your business and your objectives – but if you need to put your product or service in front of a mass audience, PR and marketing is the only way of achieving that.
If your company or start-up is doing something innovative, then you need to establish yourself as an authority in your field – a “thought leader”. Why do you need to? Because if you don’t, a smarter rival will fill that void and your company will lose ground. Thought leadership can be established through a sustained campaign including media coverage, blogs, white papers, guest columns in relevant publications, delivering talks at relevant industry events, etc.
Thought leadership campaigns are nuanced and have many strands across many disciplines within the PR and marketing spectrum. Using an agency and being able to access all the different skills within that agency is the smart play on thought-leadership campaigns.
In-house vs outsourcing
Often, providing a PR and marketing for a small business through an agency is cheaper than employing even a junior marketeer – and has none of the associated costs. And when you work with an agency, you get access to people with a vast range of skills and experience – experience and knowledge you don’t get with a single employee.
This means an agency team can identify and prioritise the actions that will help you grow, thus providing the most cost-effective solution to kickstarting your marketing activities. This level of knowledge and experience is a huge factor in ensuring your marketing activities are effective and deliver an attractive return on investment.
One view we come across time and again is that business owners think it’s better to have someone in-house because that person is dedicated solely to the business. Agencies work with many clients and business owners sometimes fear their company won’t get the attention it requires or deserves. Whereas having someone working 35 hours a week on your PR and marketing sounds good, there are no guarantees that those 35 hours will be fruitful. Agencies don’t sell time – we sell our work and we sell our results. And if agencies don’t prove their worth, it’s easy to stand them down. Agencies have to prove themselves month in, month out, to keep your business.
Choosing the right agency
Of course, to yield the gains you desire, you must choose the right partner to work with, and that can be difficult. Often, such decisions are based on instinct as much as reason, and trusting that sense is usually a good move.
However, working off price alone usually isn’t. The right agency is the one fits the best, and has shared values and individuals you feel you could work with. Usually, they will have a degree of creativity that makes you sit up and take notice, but, crucially, they understand the heart of your business.
Finally, be sure that the agency you choose is excited by your product or service, because then you can be confident they will bring all that energy into your PR and marketing campaigns.