If you're a small business owner you know that there are a lot of tasks to manage. Between operations, products and services, finances and sales, marketing can become an afterthought. Larger businesses often have an advantage when it comes to brand building and marketing because they have more resources and designated teams for each department.
It's a common misconception that branding is for larger companies while smaller companies should stay focused on their products and services. In reality, it's just as important for small companies to do their research, find their target market and build a brand that communicates their intended message. Small businesses still need to convey their unique and authentic voice.
While it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to do this is to outsource advertising and marketing to an external company. On top of accessing professional quality work, this encourages small businesses to explore and build their underlying brand message in a stronger and more consistent way. It also places marketing efforts in the hands of a variety of specialists whose prime concern is their clients.
Ultimately, outsourcing can lead to a stronger brand and business. Here's how:
Deliberate brand building
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When a small business outsources its marketing, it's necessary to decide on a deliberate and strong brand message so that it will be implemented reliably by an external company. On the other hand, when marketing is done in-house it becomes easier to improvise, become lazy and stray from a concrete strategy.
Before outsourcing, any small business must decide what their brand represents. What are its main characteristics? How does it feel and look? The colours, lines and designs that are chosen to convey a brand message should be consistent and in-character. Deciding on the brand's look and feel allows small businesses to craft guidelines for an external company to follow. These guidelines can be broken up into categories such as visuals, language and voice.
Once the basics of the brand have been established, small business owners can begin to search for the perfect professional. When businesses are firm on their needs and objectives, they can find an industry expert who is the perfect fit. This will also allow them to begin building a targeted and brand-specific network.
Creative and thorough storytelling
One large benefit of hiring an external company is that you have to give them very clear instructions. These instructions need to be detailed, vivid and specific. This doesn't intuitively sound like a good thing, but in developing these instructions you will be defining your brand story.
Small businesses that outsource their marketing reach an elevated level of storytelling - one that forces them to describe the final product as well as the motive. For example, if a company hires an external graphic designer, they need to be sure to tell that person what they want and why they want it that way (I want a transparent border because it's more inviting than an opaque border). This approach is also valuable because if you don't have a specific design in mind, you can treat the designer like a valued consultant.
Regardless of whether outsourced teams are being brought on for a regular arrangement or a one-time project, they should be trained like regular staff members. Brand building and storytelling is about more than the final product - it's about the principles and values instilled in the company.
People and relationship management
Once a small business decides to outsource their marketing, define their brand and communicate their brand message to an external team, they need to maintain a management role. This means that they need to stay on top of their marketing team to ensure that marketing plans are being implemented correctly. They should also be available for collaboration and problem solving if something urgent arises.
It's not enough to just set a marketing plan and forget about it. It needs to be consistently supervised. This is a good thing for two reasons. Firstly, it encourages small business owners to stay involved in the process and continuously define and redefine their brand as conditions shift. Secondly, it allows them to flourish as managers and relationship builders. By providing guidance to an external marketing team, small business owners are not only getting quality work but are also developing their team management skills.
Access to multiple specialists
Some people are expert multitaskers and can play a variety of different roles at once. Sometimes these roles include finance, operations, management AND marketing. While this is certainly possible, one expert multitasker cannot compete with the knowledge and expertise of dozens of specialists.
One area of marketing where this is especially true is in search engine optimization (SEO). In SEO there are a limited number of opportunities to get your ad or listing on a relevant search results page. When you work with an experienced firm full of knowledgeable people, there is a higher likelihood of getting your message at the top of the listings.
This same principle reaches beyond SEO, as well. Regardless of the advertising function you need, when you hire an external firm you get results driven by a larger pool of knowledge and experience.
Marketing is the priority
In addition to the expertise of a specialized firm, when you outsource marketing you also get their full attention. When companies decide to do the marketing themselves, they may have the capability, but not the time.
Hiring an external firm ensures that marketing moves to the top of the priority list. Marketing firms guarantee that their client's issues always take precedence, so you know that your company's marketing efforts will receive the time and energy they deserve.
Outsourcing marketing activities may initially seem daunting for a small business. However, if it is approached in a systematic and strategic way, it can lead not only to more effective marketing, but a stronger, more successful business.
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